One of the great things about 3rd-year at our school is that we rotate all across the country–New England, Arizona, California, even Alaska! One of the reasons is that most of us students will end up pursuing a career in an urban setting. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a diverse group of patients and populations, and their stories are equally as diverse. On my internal medicine rotation, I’ve had the privilege of rotating at a VA hospital located just down the street.
It truly is a privilege to be serving as a medical student for veterans. A few things I’ve noticed:
- Your social history is much more specific. Not only does military duty come into play during the social history, but patients also present with an incredible past medical history of trauma and rare infectious diseases from being abroad.
- There are a lot of “bread and butter” patients, as my residents referred to them. Heart failure, COPD, PTSD. A lot of patients on pacemakers and home O2.
- It’s interesting for patients to not even consider cost of treatment. At my home institution, patients wanted to know what they would pay for. At the VA, we didn’t have a single question about cost. Patients knew they would be taken care of.
- As my chief resident said, the hospital represented what 90% of hospital care is: intimate, small, and community-based. Compared to our large academic institution, you find yourself paging consults in person. There are much fewer residents and fellows. Attendings keep you involved in patient care. Patients get to know you as a key provider of the team.
I’m so grateful for my time rotating at the VA and hearing their stories. It’s a truly humbling rotation that I hope all medical professionals get to do.