I’ve shifted from the clinic to the wards. For the next 5 months, I’m on multiple inpatient services–internal medicine, surgery, inpatient peds. I’m only a few weeks in and it’s already a very different world I’m living in. The 3-hour-long rounds, the pace of patient interactions, and the intensity of medical management. As an internist, you really are captain of a ship, steering multiple teams and leading the healthcare for the patient.
Having just come from family medicine, I thought that I would lose the relationship-centered care I had in the clinic. In family medicine, we would see patients multiple times and I would be able to spend extra time just listening to the patient’s personal life. My preceptor would ask me about the patient’s social history, and how it might affect their access to healthcare. During our didactic sessions, we were pressed about the social determinants of health as well as debated if healthcare itself was truly a right. So going into internal medicine, I imagined we didn’t have time for much of these discussions.
I realized, however, that in an inpatient setting, I actually get to know my patients deeply. If only for a few days, I spend many hours with each patient on any given day. It’s a very compressed and intense experience. Once rounds are done and notes are complete, I get the opportunity to ask patients about their experiences, their families, their favorite mountains to ski at, what they used to do for a living, etc. If anything, this provides patients a chance to distract their minds from the ills and concerns of their hospital stay and make it a little more pleasant. I’m really enjoying the inpatient setting knowing that you can still have strong relationships with your patients.