The Medical Group Management Association of Greater St. Louis is pleased to launch a partnership with the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society (SLMMS). This partnership will feature the sharing of information in publications and on our websites.
Thanks to MGMA of Greater St. Louis Past President, Julie Guethler for sharing the following article.
Filling the Gap -
How Physician and Aspiring Medical Students Learn from Each Other
Julie Guethler, Transform Healthcare Strategies
Recent trends show that aspiring medical students often take a year off between earning their bachelor’s degrees and entering medical school. One local practice is tapping into this resource to enhance their workforce and provide beneficial education to students.
Richard C. Bell, MD, with his medical practice, Associates in Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery in Chesterfield, hires students in this “gap year.” The practice primarily utilizes the students as scribes, and they perform some of the tasks typically handled by medical assistants such as rooming patients, answering calls, and setting up procedures for the physicians. This allows the physicians to spend more time with their patients instead of entering data into the EMR. The program is in its third year.
Dr. Bell said, “The gap year student-employees have provided an enthusiastic, hardworking, highly capable workforce. They come to the practice with a background in technology unmatched by most of the physicians. They have been very helpful in our transition to EMR and have solved many of our technological issues.”
He continued, “I believe that this program has met the needs of the students also. Our bi- weekly teaching sessions have allowed for didactic teaching and an opportunity to gain experience in presenting in front of a group, a skill required in medical school
and residency. The students have also had the experience of working with patients of diverse cultural, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, an opportunity often not encountered
until well into medical school. Furthermore, they have learned to work with the team of employees in the office, something that many physicians never experience—coming into an office setting after residency as a physician employee or even as a practice owner.”
Michaele M. Penkoske, MD, career consultant at Washington University, notes that prospective medical students seek opportunities like this as they use the gap year to enhance
their qualifications for medical school. Reasons may include:
1. To fill in a "gap" or deficiency in one's candidacy. Applicants for medical school engage in a variety of extracurricular activities to show they understand what medicine entails and service projects that demonstrate their care and concern in the service others.
2. To develop relationships with professors, mentors, etc., from whom they can receive meaningful letters of recommendation.
3. A need to raise one's GPA by doing additional coursework. This can also be true of re- taking the MCAT to achieve a better score.
4. Time to give the proper attention to medical school applications.
Others may choose a gap year for personal reasons, such as taking a break before medical school perhaps to travel or save money; gaining more time to work on a project before starting
medical school, e.g., continue their work on a project in the lab perhaps to get their name on a publication; or affirming that medicine is really the right career choice for them.
The result I have observed of Dr. Bell’s use of gap year students is a win-win. Watching these students over the course of the year, their growth is palpable. From a manager’s perspective, they are bright, respectful, and caring toward the patients and can often help with projects that other staff don’t have time to complete. Watching these wonderful young people launch into
the next phase of their careers has been a privilege.
Julie Guethler, Practice Management Consultant at Transform Healthcare Strategies provides support to physician practices in the areas of revenue cycle management, workflows, space design, and interim management services. Julie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-420-1067.
The following articles also appeared in the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society's newsletter: