Thomas Luscomb 2013 FPO Program
“I was shown the rewarding and challenging aspects that present themselves in Family Medicine and I gained insight into areas (such as the business side of private practice) that I will not have exposure to in the classroom but which will be necessary for me to understand later on down the road.”
I first heard of the Future Physicians for Oklahoma program though a former MSII. I had decided to ask some of the upperclassmen what they had spent their previous summer doing since my summer plans were not yet made up, although I knew at the time that I did not want to spend my entire summer doing research. As we both laced up our cleats in preparation for a friendly soccer match, he spoke of the program, what it meant for him, and what he had learned and gotten to do. It sounded like an amazing experience – not only would I get to have early exposure to a specialty I was interested in, but also I would get to revisit the topics we covered in our first year of medical school, take what I had learned thus far in the classroom and apply it in a clinical setting, and then also learn more about what lies on the road ahead.
I was assigned to Dr. Ledbetter and I entered his clinic on Monday morning somewhat anxious and wanting to make a good impression. I instantly got the sense that he is both easy to trust and to talk with, and my impression was further amplified by observing the way he interacts with his patients and his staff. Dr. Ledbetter exhibits the joy of a man who loves what he does and he always strives to maintain a casual and trusting relationship with his patients, moving his stool close to each patient and sitting on their eye level. As we moved from room to room, he would comment on the case we’d seen or on an incoming patient, ask if I had any questions, and then ask me questions in return to gauge my understanding of what I’d observed. Beyond just commenting and asking questions, however, Dr. Ledbetter would take the time to teach and explain topics as we went along. He would point out popular questions and keyword associations that might appear on my upcoming Step I exam, bring to attention some of the favorite questions attendings might ask during my 3rd and 4th year rotations, and highlight the clinical and personal knowledge that he employed on a day-to-day basis in his practice to assist him in decision making.
A modern day renaissance man, Dr. Ledbetter would often proclaim his love of “knowing a little about a lot,” and our daily conversations reflected this trait. Ranging from medicine, to politics, to religion, to the architectural design behind his newly built practice, to ethics and morals, and to combinations of any of the above, each hour spent at Kings Court Family Medicine was a valuable learning experience. A typical day might see conversations ranging from theology, to the political ramifications of Snowden’s recent actions, followed by the logistics behind insurance and billing procedures, a discussion about the proper treatment procedures for a particular patient, a review of the anatomy of a particular body system, an examination of the mechanism of action behind a pharmaceutical drug, insight into the frustrations and joys of working in Family Medicine and how to manage one’s own private practice, advice about the stress and complications that arise when moving a practice, and innumerable other topics.
I began this internship by shadowing Dr. Ledbetter for a few days, and then I began rotating through the different components that comprised his practice. I spent time working with and learning from the office manager about insurance and billing procedures, how to use CPT and ICD9 codes, how exactly the office generates income, and some of the problems that can arise in that department. I then moved on to work with the medical assistants in recording patient information during encounters and then quickly progressed to conducting my own patient interviews. Each day also involved shadowing and learning from Dr. Ledbetter and as the weeks progressed, I became more familiar with the structure of the practice. Words that were somewhat recognizable from my first year of lectures at the start of the experience – triamcinolone, Zoloft, omeprazole, Claritin – became old friends by the end of the four weeks.
I was also able to volunteer at Bedlam Clinic which is a free medical health clinic that serves the uninsured population of Tulsa. My time spent in this clinic afforded me another chance to grow as a future physician and get to know the community in which I had grown up. It also afforded me another opportunity to see Family Medicine in action, and moreover what it really means to be a physician who is willing to invest in one’s own community.
From having no certain plan of what I was going to do over the summer to being accepted into the 2013 FPO program, I can honestly say that this has been one of the most rewarding and educational summers I’ve ever had. The idea of a summer spent doing solely research or poking needles into rats in a lab just did not appeal to me, and I was very grateful to have been accepted into the program. I was shown the rewarding and challenging aspects that present themselves in Family Medicine and I gained insight into areas (such as the business side of private practice) that I will not have exposure to in the classroom but which will be necessary for me to understand later on down the road. I was able to learn about Family Medicine in a one-on-one basis and was given a chance to start using my (limited) medical knowledge at a very early stage, and most importantly I learned more about my community, its members, and some of the struggles that they go through on a day-to-day basis to obtain medical care.