Internal Medicine Interest Group of the Month: Penn State College of Medicine
The field of internal medicine represents the crux of what it means to be a physician. William Osler said, "it is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has." Osler's words speak perfectly to medical students who aspire to internal medicine (IM). It is the responsibility of IM physicians to observe the exterior of the patient and understand not only the physical pathophysiology that threatens but also the emotional and psychological battle that wars within the patient's mind.
At Penn State College of Medicine, our Internal Medicine Interest Group (IMIG) strives to learn both the science and the art of medicine and healing. We take pride in the patient-centered model of care and are instructed in the importance of the medical home model; the need for longitudinal continuity of care for our patients; and the values of integrity, compassion, and determination. Under the Hippocratic Oath, we have vowed to remember that there is "an art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug."
Our student-run group boasts a membership of almost 50% of our student body. We aim to inform future physicians about the varying career paths our field provides and the ever-evolving role of the physician in the environment of health care policy reform. The events organized by IMIG range from lunch lectures to skills nights, a road trip to Philadelphia for a Health Care Reform Symposium, and our own Penn State Health Care Reform Policy Panel.
With four second-year members of the board and two first-year representatives, IMIG offers continuity of ideas and open lines of communication across the preclinical student body. Our advisor, general internist Larry Jones, MD, FACP has given wonderful support by coordinating "skills nights", at which students have the opportunity to test and improve their physical diagnostic techniques.
Our group also has monthly lunch lectures featuring doctors from all branches of IM, including endocrinologists, hospitalists, nephrologists, and palliative care specialists. These lectures typically begin with a brief history of the physician's path to his or her current position at the hospital and tips and tricks of the trade, followed by a "mystery case" allowing for a collaborative differential diagnosis, discussion, and question-and-answer period to close out the session. The aim of these lectures is to stimulate interest in the field among students who are unsure which path they will pursue in medicine.
We have had the residency director, Dr. Edward Bollard, FACP speak about clerkships, research, and some of the "how-tos" of an application for residency in IM. Other lectures this year featured rheumatology, palliative care, med/peds, and the Medical Home Project. Our group has also participated yearly in a dinner sponsored by the ACP and hosted by Dan Kimball, MD, FACP, Governor of the ACP Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter. With the historic changes occurring this year in our health care delivery system, we found it appropriate to turn IMIG's focus toward health care reform policy and the health care law being debated in Congress.
As our biggest event of the year, we have coordinated with Dr. Kimball and our Vice Dean of Educational Affairs, Dr. Richard Simons, MACP to host a collaborative panel comprising doctors, hospital administrators, and local political representatives. Its purpose is to interest students in learning how health care reform will affect not only our patients but also our practice as physicians. Whether we are surgeons, internists, dermatologists, or primary care docs, we do an injustice to our patients and ourselves by NOT knowing about health care reform. In tandem with this lunch lecture panel, several IMIG board members and interested participants will be traveling to Philadelphia for the Health Care Policy Symposium at Temple University School of Medicine, cosponsored by the ACP.
As leader of the group this year, I can honestly say that IMIG at Penn State's College of Medicine has been more than just a club-it has become a tightly knit community of open-minded individuals with a hunger to explore the vast field of medicine. We are always enthusiastic and motivated to discuss, discover, and ask questions. We are grateful and inspired by our mentors at Penn State, who encourage our continued perseverance on the path of transformation from bright-eyed, bushy-tailed medical students into student doctors and, eventually, into full-fledged healers, armed with the scientific knowledge and the artful compassion that will allow us to become not just good physicians who treat the disease but, as Osler said, "great physicians who treat the patient who has the disease."
IMIG Leader, Penn State College of Medicine