| April 20, 2006
Want a provider to spend lots of time with you? You’ll find it with medical students.
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We have an excellent program here in Vancouver. It’s called Community Health Initiative by University Students (CHIUS)[http://www.chius.ca/] and students love to work there so much, there aren’t enough spaces for everyone!
The approach involves a multi-disciplinary team of students in Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics, Dentistry, Audiology, and Masters of Health Administration.
They provide weekend care for residents of the Downtown Eastside. This neighbourhood is one of the (if not the) poorest district in Canada. Many of the residents are alcholics, heroin or cocaine users, sex-trade workers, or homeless people, and many have a co-presenting mental disorder.
There are medical professionals on staff to assist the students, but many patients find the greater benefit, over the medical attention they receive, comes from having the students listen to them.
It’s an amazing thing both for the students and the patients. I only wish there were more spaces available for students, so that I might experience it first-hand!
I feel there is a serious ethical problem here. Doesn’t this amount to using uninsured patients as “practice” for students? Would an insured patient, who has a choice of providers, opt to go to a clinic run by students?
As a med student myself, I know that I don’t have enough experience yet to be treating patients on my own (or with only minimal supervision.) While there is always the temptation to learn more by doing more, it wouldn’t be in the patient’s best interest to have me see them instead of a doctor. And I wouldn’t want the responsibilty should something go wrong.
Don’t worry too much about it. They wouldn’t be able to get care if you weren’t there. You will learn when they really need to see a real doctor. You will also pick up on some important things that a hurried “real doctor” wouln’dt have the time or patience to pick up on.
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