Change of scene! For the past several weeks, I have been experiencing my OB/GYN rotations from the halls of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti. The last few weeks have been a flurry of catching babies, surgeries with Da Vinci robots, and now working with patients in clinics. With every visit, patient and doctor alike hope for one thing, an uneventful encounter with no concerns. And most of my visits have gone that way, but every so often, there is that troublesome finding, that ominous sign on the ultrasound, and the atmosphere changes from calm breeziness to somber tones. With one such encounter, I just happened to be assigned to the sub-specialty office the very next day where a patient who had just received potentially devastating news was going to receive her follow up appointment. The moment I walked into the waiting room, there was a look of recognition on her face, a flash of comfort, even as she agonized on the impending results. It just so happened I was assigned to the office that day, otherwise everyone she saw that day would have been new. I was a medical student, the one with the fewest answers to her questions, but I was a familiar face, and that made all the difference, it seemed, in those few moments before she thankfully received good news. I have heard the phrase “continuity of care” tossed about and it has always made perfect sense in theory. Today, I saw what this meant in practice. Medical care, no matter how excellent, is subverted by fragmentation. Continuity is often hard to achieve, but worth it . . .
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