With Summer Jobs, Med Students Experience Health System Challenges First Hand

A group of University of Washington medical students had an eye-opening experience with the health care system this summer, The New York Times reports. A record number of students from the university this year participated in a summer program that sends rising second-year medical students "across the Northwest to provide primary care in rural or underserved areas." Students in the program "learned not only to deliver babies and suture wounds, but also to order unnecessary tests as protection against lawsuits, to hector specialists into seeing Medicaid patients, to match patients with prescriptions on Wal-Mart’s $4 list," and they witnessed the "tidal wave" of chronic illnesses.

"[M]any concluded that it was critical to reorient a reimbursement system that had profoundly devalued primary care and prevention." Some also decided that primary care was not the specialty for them after working with primary care doctors who "filled their 13-hour days with hospital rounds and staccato five-minute appointments" for comparatively low pay compared to specialists (Sack, 9/8).

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