Thursday, April 12, 2018

Foot in the Door, part 2: Preparing Your Foundation

keywords:  hospital practice, prospective hospital-practice integrative health practitioners, students of East Asian Medicine (acupuncture), integrative health students, shadowing health care practitioners

EAM = East Asian Medicine.  Broad term that includes Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and related disciplines.
EAMP, and L.Ac. = terms for a practitioner who has completed an ACAOM-accredited master's or doctorate program and has a current state license.  EAMP = East Asian Medicine Practitioner.  L.Ac. = Licensed Acupuncturist.  L.Ac. is the most common state license title in the U.S.
MD = medical doctor, physician

This is the second of the blogpost series answering the question
"how do I get my foot in the door of hospital practice?"
Stay tuned as posts will be published over the course of the next 4-5 weeks.
This information comes from my upcoming book on the basics of hospital practice for integrative health practitioners.  If you are interested in following this work, please subscribe to this blog, the public Facebook page, and subscribe to the email newsletter.

Quick overview
  • First, make sure you have the basic requirements covered
  • Then, preparation.  
  • You must enrich your foundation, pack a trail bag, and find your trail guides.
  • Your first expeditions are to develop the basic stepping stones into successful hospital practice, shadowing and volunteering.  
  • These stepping stones are used throughout your hospital practice career to learn and grow.  So, become familiar with these stones and do not neglect how much easier they make crossing streams or rivers vs. wading in without a trail guide or path to follow.

Prepare Your Foundation as a Gardener 
The gardener prepares the soil in autumn and spring for successful harvests in the summer and fall and future years.

To be more competitive and prepared to work in hospital practice, I recommend volunteering and shadowing as the easiest resources to access in any area of the country you live.

I recommend:

For more formal competitive training, consider a fellowship or residency and related certifications, such as those discussed in the "Specialties and Fellowships" book chapter.

The following short-course certifications for L.Ac.s support the integrative medicine/integrative health paradigm of teaching patients self-care in a standardized format (and are within our scope of practice):

Making Connections with Shadowing and Volunteering
The two main ways to make strides toward hospital practice that are accessible to any practitioner are shadowing and volunteering.  There are no locality restrictions on shadowing and volunteering.  No matter where you live in the country, you are only as far as your nearest hospital, medical center, or outpatient clinic.

While it is theoretically possible to take a "shot in the dark" and apply cold to a position, you still need the "tried and tested" skill sets that come from shadowing and volunteering to be successful in hospital practice.

I recommend doing some preparation first, like a gardener prepares for the growing season by tilling the ground and working in soil additives before planting seeds.  The seeds are more likely to take root when the soil is prepared.

What is Shadowing?
Shadowing is following a healthcare provider for a set period of time, agreed to by you and the provider.  You follow the provider through the clinic day, politely and respectfully (and usually silently), observing.  Like a shadow, you silently following the practitioner throughout the set period.

Benefits of Shadowing

  1. Shadowing helps you learn what a typical work day is for a specific healthcare provider.  It helps you have a better idea of what their work and challenges are.
  2. You learn more about this specialty, and see a sampling of the case load.  You get a glimpse into this provider's typical clinic day.
  3. You make a basic connection with this provider
  4. You learn more about nuances of the specialty, and, importantly, how this provider practices specifically and interacts with her team.  

copyright Megan Kingsley Gale
Do not reproduce without author's written permission

Stay tuned to the blog for the next post on "Pack Your Trail Bag:  Tools you will need for your Pack".

Review the basic education and licensing requirements (first blog post in series) before applying for hospital-practice work in our first post of this series.

Today's resource recommendations

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