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The Informed Parent

The Value Of A Teaching Hospital

by John H. Samson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jun. 02, 2014

My partners and I have been on the faculty of a medical school affiliated hospital since 1967. I have also been on the staff of community hospitals NOT blessed with the presence of pediatric residents.

The watchful care provided by these dedicated young doctors is invaluable. Their ability to provide immediate response for unexpected emergencies for the inpatients has saved countless lives.

Occasionally I encounter the uninformed parent who expresses trepidation on having residents participate in their child’s inpatient care. They say, “I don’t want residents experimenting on my child“! Believe me, there is no experimentation being conducted on a patient. All plans of care are formulated during lengthy rounds as we see every patient daily.

The residents are there to learn via discussion and observation. They learn not only by discussion with the attending senior physician but as they provide education and compassion for the parents.

By the time a physician is a senior resident in pediatrics, he or she has spent four years at a university earning a bachelor degree. Then he has survived four years in medical school to achieve an M.D. degree, to be followed by two years of pediatric training as an intern. Now he is a junior resident at a Children’s Hospital, only one year away from being eligible to take the pediatric board examination in his senior year of residency. Thus the senior resident is not a neophyte in caring for children and adolescents.

Many times their precise histories have unearthed important facts that greatly aid in making a diagnosis. More importantly, if an inpatient takes a turn for the worse, they are there STAT with, at times, life-saving care.

As an attending supervising these physicians in training, we are forced to stay current with changes in care. If we don’t, they take delight in pointing it out to us. Staying current with changes in care is the greatest challenge all physicians face. One must continually update our data base of therapies. One author showed that what was a ”state of the art” treatment plan ten years ago is now no longer “state of the art”, in as many as 50% of situations.  One of the best ways to assure current competency is to supervise and teach residents.

So you see, residents provide valuable service to the patient, parent, hospital staff and even their supervising teaching attending physicians. The 47 years I have spent teaching residents at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Miller Children’s Hospital of Long Beach, and been on the faculty of USC Medical School and UCI Medical School has been time very well spent. It has aided not only from the perspective of my own medical education but also the care provided to my patients.

I hope your children are never admitted to a hospital. But if he or she is, respect the residents. Treat them with kindness and thank them for the hours of unselfish care they provided your offspring.

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