Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Penn Pairs Chronically Ill Patients With Medical Students To Create Better Doctors

Date:
March 3, 2006
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
Can someone who suffers from a lethal genetic disease teach a pair of medical students to become better doctors? That's the goal of a unique, long-term patient-student pairing program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Can someone who suffers from a lethal genetic disease teach a pair of medical students to become better doctors? That's the goal of a unique, long-term patient-student pairing program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Related Articles


Doctors-in-training -- like Christopher Guerry, a second-year medical student at Penn -- are learning what it's like to live with cystic fibrosis (CF), and many other chronic health conditions. They're shadowing patients with chronic conditions such as HIV, asthma and kidney failure. The students are taking part in the "Longitudinal Experience to Appreciate Patient Perspectives (LEAPP)" -- a program at Penn's medical school - in which students are paired with chronically ill patients for several years.

"The goal of the program is to better understand what the patient must go through and to improve doctoring skills by learning from those experiences," explains Paul Lanken, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division at Penn and Director of the LEAPP program. "We want to produce better doctors -- doctors who have a real compassion for what the patient is going through, including their daily struggles with a serious chronic condition."

Medical Student Paired With Patient Deb Becker

Deb Becker has battled Cystic Fibrosis (CF) -- a disease characterized by thick mucus in the lungs that affects breathing and digestion -- more than half of her life. The 50-year-old grandmother first noticed the symptoms of CF at 16 and was diagnosed with it at age 25. Becker eventually lost her oldest sister, who also suffered from the disease. And throughout Becker's life, as a single parent, she has been in and out of the hospital often. But she persevered, "You put one foot in front of the other and do what you need to do."

On oxygen round the clock, Becker, a Shiloh, New Jersey resident, has limited mobility. Cystic fibrosis affects my lungs," she says. "The weather and allergies make it hard to breathe. I cough. But I still try to get out and about; I try to leave the house everyday at least to go grocery shopping."

"Medical students can learn from me," Becker comments. "When it comes to medical treatment, I don't trust anybody. I question a lot. I want to know why someone's doing something. I want the young doctors to learn to respect the patient as a thinking person and make time for them."

Medical student Christopher Guerry will follow Becker's progress over the next three years. "This long-term experience can give us an appreciation of being able to have a more in-depth relationship with a patient, similar to the way physicians used to work within communities, when they had a real and lasting relationship with their patients," said Guerry.

Guerry's first visit with Becker lasted two hours. He learned about CF and the difficult aspects of the disease Becker has had to live with and overcome. "Mrs. Becker is wonderfully open and there is so much we can learn from her personality and strength. The burden of managing such an illness daily is incredible. I am struck by her optimism and humor and love of her family."

Student/Patient Pairing Leads to Patient Advocacy and Better Doctors

David Lipson, MD, Director of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis program at Penn and who is also involved in the LEAPP program, notes, "We are bringing the patient into the classroom, so to speak. It's one thing to read about a disease; it's another to interact with a patient and see how the disease affects them physically, socially, financially, and coping in general."

Douglas Holsclaw, MD, Senior Staff Physician with the Adult Cystic Fibrosis program at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, who diagnosed Becker and has been her doctor for the last 25 years, says, "The medical students in this program get a learning experience here at Penn -- with all the resources we have and the depth of knowledge of our physicians -- that they may not get elsewhere. They get to see firsthand the doctor-patient relationship truly evolve, during which the doctor is able to continually comfort a patient, and say to them 'you remember how you made it through that surgery in the past, you were fine, you bounced back, and you'll be fine this time too.'"

Medical students in the LEAPP program are expected to meet the patient they are paired with in person, and then follow-up with them by phone or face-to-face at least every month over a three-year period. Students are also encouraged to visit their patients when they are hospitalized, during other doctor visits, and during outpatient testing. One in-home visit is required. Also, students must complete written assignments, which focus on the biopsychosocial aspects of their patient's illness.

In the first year of this experience, students primarily work to form a relationship with the patient and family. In the second and third years, students are expected to have the sufficient skills and knowledge to serve as 'health coaches' for their patients, under the supervision of the patient's physician.

"We want the students to learn how a patient with a chronic health condition lives and works -- how it affects not only their physical well-being but also their emotional and spiritual well-being, too," explains LEAPP Director Lanken. "We want them to understand this from the patient's point of view, not the doctor's. We want them to view their future patients first of all as persons, and learn what it's like for them to live with their particular condition and how it affects their family. Bottom line -- in the long run, this will teach our Penn medical students how to be better doctors."

###

This program is funded by a generous donation by an anonymous supporter of better medical education.

Cystic Fibrosis, caused by a genetic mutation, affects 33,000 people in the U.S. Most patients are diagnosed in childhood. It's characterized by respiratory insufficiency, sinus disease or bowel problems. Patients develop problems in general due to thickening of mucus, which is hard to get rid of. This can cause inflammation and tissue destruction and affect breathing. The median survival for a CF patient is about 33 years.

For more information on the disease, go to:http://pennhealth.com/ency/article/000107.htm

For more information on treatment, go to:http://pennhealth.com/lung/services/adult_cystic.html



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Penn Pairs Chronically Ill Patients With Medical Students To Create Better Doctors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060303112849.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2006, March 3). Penn Pairs Chronically Ill Patients With Medical Students To Create Better Doctors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060303112849.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Penn Pairs Chronically Ill Patients With Medical Students To Create Better Doctors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060303112849.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins