This is the fifth in the blogpost series answering the question:
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- 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.
Shadow = a 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
PHI = protected health information
Patient Privacy Laws = laws that protect patient privacy. There is U.S. federal law and then, usually, more specific or detailed laws at the state level that add on to the federal law.
HIPAA = U.S. federal law on health information privacy, accountability, and accessibility. It is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). For more information, go to this post.
Minimum Necessary = Usually refers to the "minimum necessary standard", a standard within the HIPAA Law. Refers to restricting communication about PHI to the minimum need-to-know elements.
Shadowing is the unique and very old tradition of, with pre-approval, quietly observing a professional working a typical shift/day. In this case, shadowing is clinical observation of a health care professional. Shadowing is usually short-term and not the same as an internship.
What to Expect on Your Shadow DaySo, you have connected with your hospital-practice mentors and other hospital-practice providers you are interested in following through a full or partial typical clinic day. And, you have set a date and time to shadow this provider.
- First, have very clear permission from the practitioner to do this.
- The practitioner will direct you to where to park and sign in and meet them.¹
- Dress professionally for your shadow.
- To review, basic professional dress for this situation is: dress pants and dress shirt, closed-toed shoes, hair pulled away from your face, and no strong smells that may trigger patient allergies (perfume, cologne, essential oils, some shampoos, lotions, and food odors).
- Privacy paperwork will include HIPAA compliance paperwork.
- Bring a print book to read.
- Bring a blank notebook and pen.
- Then, follow closely (shadow) your practitioner. They are responsible for you and your behavior. Be polite and respectful.
- Do not ask questions in front of patients.
- Be prepared to wait.
- Do ask questions in the appropriate space, like in the provider's office, outside of the provider-patient direct interaction.
|Bring a blank notebook on your shadow day.|
At the end of your shadow time, double-check that you have no PHI in your notebook. If you do, just inform your practitioner and ask where the nearest office shredder or burn bag is for those items.
Do not take such notes home with you—that would be a Privacy Law (likely also HIPAA) violation and you or your shadowed practitioner could be fined. Violations of Privacy Law carry hefty fines.
While you are waiting, review your notes or read that book or research paper or the latest issue of Meridians you brought along.
Repeat the shadow (clinical observation) process regularly. I recommend shadowing any practitioner whose work you are interested in.
Review the previous posts in this series
- Basic education and licensing requirements before applying for hospital-practice work
- Benefits of shadowing healthcare practitioners
- Pack Your Trail Bag--tools you need for the journey and how to develop stepping stones
- Find Your Trail Guide--the importance of having in hospital-based practice mentors and introduction to the stepping stones of shadowing/clinical observation and hospital-based volunteer work
Want to pre-order a pdf of this entire blogpost series? Order here.
Today's resource recommendations
- Review the previous posts in this series (see the list in above paragraph)
- Need some reading material to help pass the waiting time on your shadow day?
- Check out these books
- Learn about the philanthropic movement of integrative medicine into mainstream medicine
- Recommendations for the health care provider or graduate student learning about hospital-based integrative health basics and analogies for the East <-->West paradigm bridges
- For keeping up with research:
- Review HIPAA, and what is defined as "protected health information (PHI)"
- Sign up for the Hospital-practice Handbook Project email newsletter
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