Letter Two

This was my second week of my research. And it has been an interesting experience.

When I set out to do this project, I never realized my biggest obstacle would be to find physicians who are willing to participate in my research. I called over 35 different hospitals, health clinics, and private practices. I only was able to get 2 physicians in the United States to agree to let me shadow them so far. So the search is ongoing for the rest of my physicians for the study.

Last week, I shadowed an internist and was able to really learn a lot. After the first day, the whole process became very natural and routine. The physician would ask each patient if it was okay if I was in the room and if they said yes, I would enter the room and introduce myself while explaining my project.

The physician would ask questions to try and diagnose the patients. I recorded things like how much eye contact they maintained with the patient, if they used their personal phone during the appointment and the different ways that they showed respect.

I also recorded things like the amount of time that the physician spent with each patient. I noticed that the more time that a physician spent with a patient, the higher the quality of care was and the more respect they showed their patients throughout the appointment. Some indicators of respect that my mentor and I mapped out are introducing themselves, if they apologize anytime they cause pain by touching an injury, for pediatricians, do they talk to the child as well or just the parents, do they respect the patients privacy, etc. However, I was curious on how the physicians managed the business aspect of their private practices (where seeing a higher quantity of patients would be in their best interest) and the medical aspect (where seeing a patient for more time would be in their best interest.) This is something that will definitely be addressed in my interviews with the physicians.

I shadowed a pediatrician this week. Seeing the different physicians and their very different styles of medicine made me think critically about the medical ethical dilemmas that each of them faced.

One particularly interesting incident occurred that really helped see the stark contrast that exists in this sphere. When a patient, complained to one of the physicians I shadowed that the medication they prescribed the last time was very expensive. The physician completely ignored the comment and made no efforts to assuage the patients financial concerns. A similar situation occurred with the other physician. However, this physician suggested alternatives that may not be as effective but were substantially cheaper and let the patient decide which medication they would like to fill.

I haven’t had a chance to interview either of the physicians yet. I look forward to learning more about the physicians through the interview process and discussing my observations with them.

Angeli Sharma is a T’20 Undergraduate and a 2017 Kenan Summer Fellows Participant

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