Working in a clinic and shadowing in clinic have very different objectives. This summer was my first time actually being employed by a healthcare facility. Although I have helped out the doctor and his nurses with specific tasks before, I did so as a student shadowing. I have been shadowing this orthopedic surgeon for two years and have balanced the nurse’s tasks with my ability to shadow and see patients with the doctor. Being employed this summer, my number one priority per my job title is to call the patients back from the waiting room and either send them to get x-rays or put them in their private room. Rarely will I go in the room with the doctor anymore and see how he diagnoses the patient. I am greatly appreciative to have an income this summer but I do miss observing the doctor-patient interaction.
NONETHELESS, I am still able to have some patient interaction as I am in charge of inputting patient’s information (HPI, Vitals, etc.) into the computer so it is ready when the doctor walks in. During the history I ask the patient what the mechanism of their injury was, how long ago their symptoms occurred, and if there are any other issues of significance. I use this time to really connect with the patient and establish a sense of raport. Even though I am not the doctor (YET!) I enjoy understanding the unique story of each patient. I conversate as long as time permits because I believe that talking with and having them connect with someone in the office gives them an overall better clinical experience.
For various reasons, one must understand that doctors can not spend as much time as they want with patients. Listening to a patient’s life story might take away the doctor’s time from other patients who are in need. I try to replace this job myself by readily accepting to hear each patient’s story while taking their history.
I wanted to write this post specifically for premeds who are trying to gain clinical experience shadowing. I want them to know that there is a difference between working for a private employer and shadowing a doctor because I stumbled upon this unique experience unexpectedly.