Thursday, May 10, 2018

Are you a New Hospital Employee? Shadow Your Team Before Starting Patient Care, #6 of the Foot-in-the-Door series

keywords:  hospital practice, prospective hospital-practice integrative health practitioners, students of East Asian Medicine (acupuncture), integrative health students, shadowing health care practitioners, preparing for hospital practice, shadowing in hospital practice setting, shadowing hospital-based providers, Team Work, shadowing your clinic team, what to do before you start clinical work



This is the sixth in the blogpost series answering the question:
"How do I get my foot in the door of hospital practice?"
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Quick overview
Acronyms and Definitions
Shadowa unique and very old tradition of clinical observation, often short-term.  Not the same as an internship.
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


As a new employee, Shadow Your Team before you start Clinical Work

Megan taking a walk around the swan pond
 at Madigan Army Medical Center.

For new hospital employees, while your paperwork is being processed and you are in that limbo zone where you are hired but can’t treat patients until all the boxes are checked, this is the ideal time to shadow everyone in the department you work in.  Everyone.

Because, once you start treating patients, getting time for this is next to impossible.  Shadowing everyone in your department, whether it is a couple hours or a whole day, gets you the best insight into what your colleagues are doing. 

Shadowing everyone in your department gets you the best insight into what your colleagues are doing and how your clinic functions.  From this information, you will be able to better understand how your skills are a best fit, not just for the clinic's mission, but for your specific team.

This helps you better understand where your skills will best mesh with theirs and gives you more common ground and experience to draw from when making inter-departmental recommendations or learning how all the pieces of the engine fit and work together. 

This understanding, no matter how rudimentary (since you are still a new employee) is invaluable and this shadowing opportunity, unfortunately, is nearly impossible time-wise once you are treating a full schedule of patients.

Shadowing your clinic team helps you learn how all the pieces of the engine fit and work together.

For example, at the IPMC, I shadowed the clinical pharmacist, the pain physician, the chiropractor, the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, the health psychologist, the yoga therapist, and the supply sergeant.

This experience helped me understand the framework of the referral system both within the outpatient clinic I worked in and the pre-program prep the patients went through before entering the full interdisciplinary therapy program.

It helped me see how what I was doing was synergizing with the other practitioners’ work.  This, combined with the occasional lunch chat, helped me better understand not just the unique discipline of each of my colleagues, but the way he or she specifically practiced it.

Shadowing helped me see how my skill set could best synergize with the specific skill sets of my clinic team members.

This helped us all worked better as a team.  And, when practitioners do good team work, the following benefit:  patients and their families, practitioners on the team, and the department administration (scheduling, positive outcome measures, through-put, happy patients and families).


Stay tuned for the next post, Shadowing Physicians.


copyright Megan Kingsley Gale.  all rights reserved.
Do not reproduce without author's written permission


Review the previous posts in this series
  1. Basic education and licensing requirements before applying for hospital-practice work
  2. Benefits of shadowing healthcare practitioners
  3. Pack Your Trail Bag--tools you need for the journey and how to develop stepping stones
  4. Find Your Trail Guide--the importance of having hospital-based practice mentors and an introduction to the stepping stones of shadowing/clinical observation and hospital-based volunteer work
  5. What to Expect on Your Shadow Day  

Want to pre-order a pdf of this entire blogpost series?  Order here.


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