It’s surreal to say that it is my last clinical rotation of medical school. For the next few weeks, I’m working in an outpatient clinic on a geriatrics and ambulatory medicine service. This is an environment completely different from the surgery residency I’m about to start in July.
Having nearly completed my clinical rotations, I appreciate having an outpatient service as my last rotation. Outpatient medicine is a lot of big picture, focus on the patient as a whole. We spend most of the clinical encounters asking about what bothers the patient the most, and how a diagnosis is affecting someone’s life personally. The technicalities of medicine seem to be stressed less. The relationships are highly prized.
While I spend most of my day managing diabetes, viral URIs, cholesterol management, there is a lot of counseling in the outpatient world. Rather than treat the symptoms, outpatient medicine is a lot of discussion and motivational interviewing about the root behaviors. It’s a skill we started practicing the first week of medical school, and it’s cool to come full circle with the skill. There is a lot of value in this work and it’s unfortunate we don’t emphasize the skill or outpatient medicine enough.