At the end of last trimester, I mentioned that I was going to be shadowing at least one doctor over the break. There are many docs out in practice who are all too happy to have a student come in to shadow them, often with little more than an email of introduction containing a request to come for a visit.
I did end up getting the chance to spend some time with a doctor who has been in practice for about 25 years. I wanted to shadow him, because he combines manual therapies with acupuncture and herbal medicine. In addition to his private practice, he is on staff at a hospital, which is something that I would like to do myself. His specialty is pain management, and he has had a lot of experience working with patients who have had head trauma.
While pain management may not be my main interest, I really wanted to see how he used all of the parts of his education. Lately, I feel like I am trying to figure out the best way of incorporating all that I have learned from the two degrees I’m pursuing into one practice. Given the amount of time that I am putting into school right now, it would be great if I could make the most of both of them.
I headed out to the clinic during the holiday weekend; the patient load was really light, but this worked out to my benefit. While it is nice to be able to see the different approaches that doctors take with their patients, at school, patient care is an area where most of our learning is based. On this shadowing trip, I was able to learn a lot more about the inner workings of the clinic.
We do get a hand full of business-based classes, but the closer I get to graduation, the more concerned I am about the business end of things. We talked about everything from computer software for electronic medical records and how insurance billing is handled, to what he looked for when finding a space to set up a practice. I also got to learn how he set up his referral network, and we talked about building relationships with other health care providers.
Additionally, there was some talk about what I was interested in, and he showed me a few post-graduate continuing education options with groups I had not yet heard of. I now have some more ideas about coursework that I could complete to help me to shape myself into the kind of the practitioner that I want to be. The visit was great, and I have an invitation to come back on a busy day, so that I can see how he manages a heavy patient load within his three-exam room clinic. Hopefully, I can make this happen over the next break.