A former medical student’s point of view ~
When patients go in for help with their medical problems, they expect to see a doctor and they can get pretty snarky when they spend a lot more time with nurses, certified nursing assistants, and medical students. In fact, many patients don’t think much of medical students, after all, they’re not real doctors (yet); and how could they possibly provide the best health care?
Not only is this a fairly poor attitude to have toward someone honestly trying to help make life easier, it’s also completely wrong. Medical students offer some amazing benefits for patients who choose to see past their youth and their labels and utilize them for who they are: fantastic, down to earth resources who actually have the time, patience and ability to help people get through their condition and out the other side with full understanding of what’s going on.
How Patients Benefit from Medical Students
One of the major complaints people have with doctors is that they often don’t have the time to fully explain the details of health conditions to their patients. Even when they do explain, they often use medical jargon that many people — particularly seniors — just don’t understand. And many patients feel intimidated by their doctors, so don’t ask for further clarification; or they feel rushed and don’t think they have time to ask.
Of course a patient has the right to fully understand his condition and what may happen to him, but many patients don’t take advantage of this and instead become frustrated, worried and angry.
Here is where one of the big benefits of having a medical student nearby comes into play. Medical students hold a unique position insofar as delivering personal care is concerned and they can offer some amazing benefits:
- Medical students frequently have a much smaller ‘case load’; they are usually only assigned to a couple of patients at a time and that means they have more time to sit with each person and discuss what’s wrong and what’s going to happen next.
- Medical Students, as they learn, will take the time to look into issues and patient health anomalies and get back to them. Students have more resources to draw upon than patients and that means that even if they don’t know the answer, they may know where to get it – and quickly.
- Medical students can explain what’s going on in layman’s terms more effectively because they haven’t yet been living and breathing the lingo for years, but know enough to break the complex terms and explanations down into understandable language. They just have an easier imparting what they know in a more digestible form.
- Medical students sometimes actually make the diagnosis! Because they have a more open mind, more time to research, and still have a fresh curiosity, medical students can sometimes find answers to questions that have full-fledged physicians completely stumped.
All of this means that if a patient has questions or concerns, flagging down a medical student for answers may be a pretty good idea.
What Do Medical Students Get Out of It?
Other than the education, you mean? Medical students are in the position to actually sit down with patients and properly explain what’s going on with them. Many patients are so happy to finally understand their health issues that they wish the student was actually their doctor. This is pretty heartening, humbling and uplifting for many students who may otherwise feel exhausted, undervalued, and ignored.
Furthermore, many medical students who have had a positive impact on patients will remember that and may make it a priority to continue to provide personal care to their patients in the future. This makes for better doctors and a better medical system all around.
Finally, working in medicine is stressful and many doctors don’t actually get to see the effect they have on people while they are actually going about their work. Students, who get to spend time with patients, see the patient from beginning to end and can see that they truly do and will make a difference as a doctor.
This positive experience sheds light on the student’s journey when he’s locked into several years of schooling, exams, and then a very stressful job. These personal connections positively impact both student and patient.
So the next time you have a medical student taking care of you, take advantage of it. Medical students have a lot to offer and they depend on patients to improve their educational experience in turn. Medical students aren’t just there to act as a gofer or make mistakes; they can represent a fantastic resource for those in need.
About the Author: Lena Paul is a medical school graduate who is an enthusiastic blogger and holds an editorial position at Prepgenie, a test prep provider that offers exam preparation courses for GAMSAT, PCAT, LNAT, UKCAT and UMAT.
Image credit: chrisjohnsonmd [dot] com