Yesterday marked the end of my first month of clinics – 21 amazing days of internal medicine at Ben Taub. In February, I’ll be at St. Luke’s working on a consult service to be determined Monday. We were allowed to “request” a service (general medicine, heme-onc, infectious disease, etc.) ahead of time, but I opted to be randomly assigned to something. Hopefully this doesn’t backfire. 😯
My time at Ben Taub was remarkable. I had the chance to meet (and grow attached to) quite a few patients, learn a lot of clinical pearls, gain insight on how to deal with uninsured patients, and deepen my appreciation for the contributions primary care docs have in the grand scheme of healthcare. I made a lot of “n00b” mistakes, but saw myself grow more accustomed to the clinical environment with time.
Being out of the classroom has its perks and drawbacks. First off, we can’t bunk clinics in favor of “video streaming” anymore. *nostalgiac moment of the good ‘ol days* On the other hand, we’re now proactively taking charge of patients by playing the role of a pseudo-doctor. One of the most humbling surprises of clinics was the extent to which patients see the medical student as their treatment provider. It sort of makes sense why. While we don’t sign prescriptions or orders, we interact with our patients more than the attending, residents, and interns. We try to answer questions, provide updates, and assess any changes as we watch them get on a path towards recovery. 🙂
I’ll admit the first time a patient asked me to explain what was going on, I wanted to play the “I’m just a medical student” card. I quickly realized this is my chance to take charge and serve as a liaison between the patient and doctor. At the same time, there’s something to say about common sense – leaving discussions about diagnoses and treatments to the upper-levels is logical.
So now that my time at the county hospital has come to an end, it’s time to see what the private hospital St. Lukes has to offer in terms of clinical cases. Looking forward to the next four weeks!
In other news, I gave my car a much-needed pampering this morning for getting me through the 1,200 miles of driving I needed over the 21 days at Ben Taub. If you change your own oil, look into Amsoil. I’m using their European 100% Synthetic 5w-40 product and highly recommend it.