For three days over Reading Period, I shadowed Dr. Mitchell Adler ’73, who is Chief Medical Information Officer of the Medical Group at the North Shore-LIJ Health System. In the beginning, I was very excited to meet him for my Princeternship, but I wasn’t too sure what to expect because I had never shadowed anyone before. However, Dr. Adler and his colleagues welcomed me warmly from my very first day and gave me a fantastic experience. In these three days, I definitely became more comfortable and knowledgeable about what work in the health care field can look like.
On my first day, I followed Dr. Adler straight into a meeting involving outpatient care, medical practice and performance evaluation. Although the meeting was long, I was fascinated by how the doctors in the room, each representing one section of the health system like a hospital or a specialty, addressed problems that they face in medical practice and suggested solutions that they might be able implement to address these problems. The way the meeting was conducted made me appreciate how distinct hospitals and specialties come together – discussing, presenting, and sharing ideas and information – to ultimately function as one health system.
I spent the rest of the day observing and shadowing Dr. Adler as he attended important logistical meetings, interviewed applicants for executive positions, and oversaw the operations of the teams that managed electronic health records. I learned about the electronic system that was being implemented and updated at various hospitals to streamline and facilitate medical care. What really impressed me was the scope of these electronic health records: as North Shore-LIJ is a massive health system that includes many hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities, these records were being used and integrated on a very large scale to ensure that patients received the best care possible.
We ended the first day with a dinner with one of the residents that Dr. Adler oversees. The resident specializes in internal medicine at one of the North Shore-LIJ hospitals, and I really enjoyed our dinner discussion because it gave me a glimpse of medicine in the clinical setting. I learned about the basic hospital command structure, the different medical specialties such as cardiology or pediatrics, and the process medical students go through to become board-certified physicians. Most of all, the discussion made me excited and prepared for our visit to the clinic the next day, where Dr. Adler oversees medical residents.
The second day began with a logistics meeting about how the new features of the electronic system would rollout and operate and to smooth over any foreseeable problems or glitches in the system. With the amount of people there, I could tell that this system took a lot of effort and work behind the scenes from hospital and health system administrative officers and executives to implement, and it made me appreciate the attention to detail that was given. In particular, it was interesting to see how the presentation melded into a discussion of questions and concerns from each of the departments represented before the new features officially came into use.
After a yummy lunch, we headed to the internal medicine floor of the clinic, where physicians provide outpatient care for a variety of medical conditions. The residents would leave the physician room to greet and see the patients, come back with reports of the patients’ concerns, and talk with Dr. Adler or another mentoring physician to diagnose and address those concerns. I watched the electronic health records, which I had learned so much about in the past few meetings, being used live as the interns looked up patients’ basic information and previous visits, inserted diagnoses and prescriptions, and updated patients’ information. The interns even used e-calculators, which evaluated medical indicators like heart risk when different factors like BMI and age were entered. It made me realize the valuable role technology plays in medicine today, where doctors use electronic records and electronic tools to aid them in providing better care to their patients.
The third and final day, I shadowed Dr. Adler during several meetings and conference calls where he addressed the implementation of the electronic health records and set agendas for the next few weeks to meet certain rollout and implementation deadlines. In between meetings, we discussed the current health care system and model, and Dr. Adler introduced me to several medical and health care policy articles, including those in the magazine Health Affairs, which focuses on a topic each issue and provides introductory profiles and different perspectives on that topic. I learned about different aspects of health care ranging from health insurance plans put in place by the government, to the economic implications of hospital systems, to, in particular, the roles physicians play in a health care system and the expectations placed on them by the system.
All in all, my Princeternship was a really amazing experience. Throughout the three days, I shadowed t, observed, and learned a lot. I feel that I went from having limited knowledge of the health care system to having a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to be a doctor. Although I’m still unsure about my plans for the future, this Princeternship makes me want to gain more insight into the health care field and perhaps to even pursue a medical profession after college. I’d like to sincerely thank Dr. Adler for giving me this opportunity to explore the health professions and my goals for the future!