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Spotlight on Allegheny Health Network

An interview with Mary Lynn Sealey, MD, Regional Assistant Dean of Clinical Education, Drexel University College of Medicine, Allegheny Health Network

“What makes your campus unique as an educational hub for Drexel Medical Students?”

Combination of community and academic hospitals: Students have opportunities to rotate through both community and academic hospitals so they get a sense of how each type of hospital operates and functions. This is important when the students decide where to complete a residency and even where they would like to practice in the future.

Variety of exposures: AHN is a quaternary care center and because of that, there is very little that students are not exposed to when working here. The patient population is quite diverse—we take care of people who live in the neighborhood as well as those who are flown here from other parts of PA and even other states.

Family friendly atmosphere: A motto that we have at AHN is that we take our patients and patient care seriously but not ourselves. From attending physicians to residents to nurses to ancillary staff and others, we treat each other with kindness and respect.

The students have told us that the student affairs resources/coordinators (including clerkship directors, rotation coordinators) make this a unique experience. Student education is very important to all of us. One thing I tell students when they are rotating with us is that they (or someone) is paying for their education so they deserve to get the best experience.

Unique patient population: we have a large underserved population but are still very academic. This is definitely unique because most classic “safety net” hospitals do not have a huge emphasis on education. So we have both which is unique.

“How does the presence of medical students enhance the practitioner/educator experience?”

There are many benefits to teaching and working with medical students. We must stay up to date on literature, guidelines and new treatments. Many of us went into academic medicine because not only do we love learning but we also love to share knowledge. When we are in the patient’s room teaching a student or group of students, we can also use it as an opportunity to teach our patients, our staff and our residents.

Working with and teaching students is not just a one way street, though; the students teach us as well. A student was recently working in a primary care office and seeing a patient who wanted to discuss weight loss options, including bariatric surgery. That student had recently rotated on the bariatric surgery service and was able to educate the patient and team about options in bariatric surgery. This is just one of many examples of our students contributing to our learning, knowledge and patient care.

At Allegheny Health Network, we really do consider our students essential members of our multidisciplinary teams. They make us better educators and clinicians. They make us remember why we went into medicine in the first place. They are our future and knowing that we are helping to train the future of our profession is not only exciting but also very rewarding.

“How does the presence of medical students enhance the patient experience?”

At AHN our medical students are valuable members of our health care teams. They are often the first provider to meet and interact with patients as they are admitted to teaching teams. Students are trained to focus on taking detailed patient histories, while building strong relationships that often allows care teams to better understand each individual patient. In doing so, our students often reveal key social determinants of health and care barriers, that alerts the care team to focus on an find pathways to better manage the health and wellbeing of our patients.

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