I have accepted an opportunity to teach medical students at the prestigious David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, starting this September.
After more than 30 years of practicing integrative medicine, I realize that it is time to share what I have learned and what I've been doing with young medical students and medical doctors, as well as the general public.
Through my blog I have been sharing my knowledge with the general public. However, I felt it was a necessity in my life to also be able to train young medical doctors.
Starting this September, I will be teaching a course to second-year medical students called "Doctoring". In this course I will be paired with a psychologist and we will be teaching young medical students how to interview patients, and get their history and how to help patients deal with difficult problems, from drug addiction to a cancer diagnosis. This course is not so much about the science of medicine at the art of meeting with the patient, and meeting their needs.
A recent study in JAMA showed that if a patient comes to their doctor with more than two complaints, that the chance of the second complaint ever being addressed is 8%. This study was shocking to me as an integrative doctor, because I recognize that the body is an inter — connected web of organs and not just a narrow view of one organ system and one complaint. So knowing ALL the patients symptoms is important.
This course at UCLA is a required course and all medical students must take it. It goes on their permanent deans record that they use to get into a residency program.
I will be specifically teaching eight or nine students throughout the year. I expect it to be a very fun course. That is because UCLA uses what are called "standardized patients". When I heard this expression I asked what it meant? A "standardized patient" is a professional actor who has been taught and trained to act out all parts of any given disease that the doctors are assigned for the day. The "patient" will know the signs and symptoms of the disease and they will be able to intelligently answer the medical students questions while the psychologist and I look on and teach the students how to interact with them as a patient.
My partner in the course,who is a psychologist, has been doing this for a number of years and she told me that it is not only very valuable but also can be fun.
I look forward to telling you about the "cases" that we see, but most importantly I look forward to helping the students to learn that they must listen to the whole patient, with a compassionate ear.
It is wonderful that medical schools are starting to do this.
What has been your experience with interacting with physicians? Have you had to interact with physicians taking care of a loved one? How has your experience been? Let me know what you think?