My name is Taylor McManus, and I am a Public Health major. I am connecting my CSLP credit to Health Research Methods (PUBH-350), and the organization I am working with is Georgetown MedStar Pediatrics at Tenleytown.
The mission of MedStar hospital is constructed by the Jesuit principle cura personalis, which means “care of the whole person” and embodies the mission of all health care staff to comfort and care for not only the body, but also the mind. Respect, innovation, teamwork, and integrity are a few of the other beliefs that the MedStar organization believes in.
One social issue in particular I have experienced while working at this site is that of religious and personal beliefs. On multiple occasions, clinic staff has had issues with parents of patients not wanting to vaccinate their children for personal or religious reasons. Those who are educated in the medical field are aware of the dangers of not vaccinating children, but many parents are stubborn; however, many of the practicing physicians refuse service to parents who will not vaccinate their children. It is also difficult to turn patients away due to lack of insurance or payment for an appointment. The front desk staff makes their best effort to educate and inform patients on necessary documentation and the need for insurance.
The service site where I am currently working is short-staffed, so I have been given the same expectations as a full-time employee. Each time I work, I am either assigned to medical records or to the front desk. Medical records involve me working with school forms and scanning in documents to update patient profiles. I have been given access to the entirety of the patient portal and all documents, allowing me to get a deeper look into behind-the-scenes medical work and records. In the front, I am usually assigned to answering the nurse line; here, I provide the nurses with symptom summaries and patient concerns so that the nurses are able to easily respond and take necessary actions.
My expectations for this volunteer position were initially high; I have heard in the past that Georgetown MedStar Hospital volunteer positions are fairly difficult to come by. My onboarding process took well over three months and I was impressed at how detailed the orientation was. While many clinical volunteer positions encompass only paper filing, sorting, or menial tasks, I was confident that this site would provide me with more intellectually challenging activities to participate in. My expectations have been met. I feel as though I am being given difficult tasks (learning the online patient system and preforming medical scribe duties) while also helping out in other ways such as educating patients on the necessity of an online portal to communicate with physicians. I have been interested in patient care for my entire life, and this has allowed me to take a small step towards what I expect my future to look like.
The class I have connected to my site focuses extensively on methods used for health research. While there is no research being done currently, the class has allowed me to be more aware of patient condition and various distinctions between them such as socioeconomic status, race, and disease status. In this medical setting, I have become more educated and experienced on the kinds of issues that could be studied to further benefit the public health field, including what exposures lead to higher risk of childhood illness and what behaviors parents should follow to assure childhood health. Since I am working at a pediatric clinic, it is easiest to focus on and develop scenarios relating to the health of minors. I have not only learned lessons on the importance of detail and good communication in medicine, but how customer service can impact quality of medical care altogether. The front desk commonly faces issues regarding appointment scheduling, insurance and ID verification, and necessary forms. It is just as important as medical care to ensure that patients have a good experience outside of the doctor’s office regarding care and health maintenance.