When you first started out in your career, did you ever say to yourself, I wish they would have taught me that in college. Avera McKennan is working hard to make sure 1st year medical students at USD never say that. We have more on the 7th class enrolled in Avera McKennan's Clinical First Steps Program aimed at preparing the future generation of doctors about what life is really like behind the scenes at a hospital very early in their education.
Andrea Miller just completed her 1st year of medical school at the University of South Dakota. After spending every waking hour with her head buried in books, this summer she is getting real life experience by learning the ins and outs at Avera McKennan Hospital. She was shadowing Hospitalist Dr. Jennifer McKay when we were there. Andrea is among 17 med students enrolled in this year's Clinical First Steps program at Avera McKennan. Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Kapaska says the goal of the 6 week program is to introduce the students to all the disciplines within the hospital and how they all work as a team.
Dr. Kapaska says, "Today it really is a team. A team comprised of multiple specialists, but also specialty nurses, case workers, social workers, lab people, valet, food services, etc. They all serve and have the best interests of the patient and their families. We want the students to learn as much as they can about all those pieces. They are going to spend the rest of their career doing the physician side, so the ability to know what team work really means and how much effort the team puts forth for the patient is the goal."
Andrea says, "When it comes to the hospital it's all about the nursing staff. They're the ones that run the show. I kind of assumed that's the way it was, but I didn't realize the scope of it. It's much larger than I expected. I haven't decided on a specialty yet, but through this experience I have realized it's not so much what the job is, but it's more about the people you work with that makes you enjoy the job."
A few years from now Andrea Miller will be Dr. Miller and maybe she'll be employed at Avera McKennan. No matter where she ends up, Dr. Kapaska wants to make sure she and her fellow student are well rounded in all aspects of the job and believes Clinical First Steps is a step in the right direction.
During the 6 week program, the first year med students will interface with about 25 different specialties. Plus, they will spend time getting briefed on the financial aspect of running a hospital. Normally, they don't get that kind of exposure until their 3rd and 4th year of med school.