What is my role in diagnosing and treating a patient?

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BE CAREFUL HOW YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CLINIC EXPERIENCES TO OTHERS...especially on applications and interviews.

 You will be doing many things that are not done until you are a 3rd year medical student. Some admissions people and others think
 this is not ethical for undergrads to be doing these things. I disagree, obviously. I think the sooner you are exposed to these things the better.

Of course, this must be done with close supervision and teaching.

 The following will illustrate.

 A couple months ago an appli for Med Schl wrote and sent me [as a part of her send for my LOR]  the following in her personal statement, meant for admissions people. She stated: ''As a volunteer in Panama one summer, I worked eight hours a day interviewing, examining, diagnosing, and prescribing medication to sick Panamanian citizens. I cherished the “detective work” required in having to properly diagnose the patient and develop their treatment plan.''

   My response to her was... Admissions people [and some US Docs and others] could too easily misunderstand this and think / say that was totally unethical and wrong that you did this as an undergrad. The wrong person could give you some considerable grief on this. If you were to add eg ''...all while [assisting] and [with / under] the close supervision of the teaching staff MDs there...''  
this would better reflect the true situation and places you in a much better light.

   In actuality, in the clinics, everyone knows that no patient can leave the clinic without having seen an MD. The MD has total responsibility. Staff MDs are required to actively teach all students all the time. The MDs, TOGETHER WITH THE STUDENTS, finalize the assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan. THIS IS MANDATORY. Anyone violating this is warned. Repeated staff violations are immediate cause for job termination. All prescriptions MUST be signed by an MD. This is closely monitored at the Pharmacy.

    Since Jan of this yr, we pointedly talk about all of this in Orientation and again as needed. Last Jan. a couple pre dents [from CA] had notified me that they were criticized by admissions people for what they said they did in the dental clinics. Actually, they neglected to state that what they did was all under the close teaching supervision of the staff DDS.

 

A key word is ''assisting'' the MDs / DDS.

 

Wil Johnson, MD

 Dec 2010