Internal Medicine Interest Group of the Month: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
In South Texas, internal medicine is unique, with its predominantly Hispanic patient population and diverse urban and rural clinical settings. The Internal Medicine Student Interest Group (IMSIG) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) reflects this diversity in its multifaceted programming, which includes informing students about internal medicine, providing opportunities in community service, and advocating for primary care medicine in collaboration with other student groups on campus.
Our group holds monthly meetings on campus that are open to all students. At these meetings we feature some aspect of internal medicine. Topics this year have ranged from subspecialties in internal medicine to summer preceptorship opportunities. This year's highlight was an "Hour of Clinical Pearls," in which three internal medicine doctors presented interesting case scenarios that provided unique "clinical pearls" of wisdom. The case presentations were interactive and engaging and demonstrated the broad range of clinical topics that comprise internal medicine and the excitement of clinical problem-solving.
In addition to on-campus programs, IMSIG hosts monthly diabetes screenings in the community with support from the UTHSCSA Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics. Diabetes is common in San Antonio and affects nearly 12% of the population - 2.5% more than the national average. At our diabetes screenings, we train first-year and second-year medical students to screen patients for diabetes and counsel those with a high blood sugar level about ways to improve their lifestyle and avoid life-threatening complications of this prevalent and costly disease. We follow-up by phone on patients with high blood sugar levels to encourage them with their lifestyle changes and to track our impact on their understanding of diabetes and their response to our interventions. We presented the results of these studies at the annual UTHSCSA Community Service Learning fair.
The final major effort of IMSIG goes beyond South Texas to address a national concern in health care - the growing shortage of primary care physicians (PCP). The shortage of PCPs disrupts the efficient delivery of health care in the United States. In coordination with the Family Medicine Interest Group, Pediatrics Interest Group, and two community outreach groups (Frontera De Salud and Student-Run Free Clinics), IMSIG is working to encourage more UTHSCSA medical students to consider a career in primary care. With support from the Departments of Medicine, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics, the School of Nursing, and the School of Health Professions, we have founded a Primary Care Progress chapter at UTHSCSA. This group held the school's first annual Primary Care Week in the spring. Primary Care Week featured daily panel discussions on the current state of primary care and highlighted challenges and innovations. We also held a primary care poster fair and a town hall meeting, which culminated in the establishment of an interdisciplinary Primary Care Institute to foster innovation in primary care in San Antonio and nationally.
With the support of the American College of Physicians and our faculty advisor, Dr. Kristy Kosub, IMSIG at UTHSCSA can pursue a broad range of activities. Much like the practice of internal medicine, our efforts are diverse and collaborative, beginning on campus but affecting our community in South Texas and working toward improved health care throughout the country.
President, Internal Medicine Student Interest Group
UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine, Class of 2014