7th Trimester: Enter Clinic
“Do you remember your intern from first tri?” Dr. Dimond asked his interns during a weekly meeting. Around the room, the five of us bobbed heads in unison, naming off the third-year students who had treated us during our first months on campus. “Exactly,” the doctor said. “Now that’s you. They’re going to remember you like that.”
I counted down to the beginning of this trimester all year long. In the first six trimesters we covered our basic and clinical sciences over the course of two years, and seventh tri has been the light at the end of the academic tunnel, promising our first exposure to the excitement of patient care.
Each we week we spent six hours in the clinic, providing a lot of new experiences. This trimester, we spent our time in the student clinic, providing health clearance physicals and treatment to classmates of all levels. In each appointment, we interns worked under mentor doctors, learning all the aspects of patient care, clinical duties, health records, and workflow. It is a lot to balance during the constrained time in clinic.
And clinic isn’t the only demand on our time and brain. During seventh trimester, we were only in clinic part time, with a full courseload to boot:
- Introduction to Clinical Services – 4 credits, 7 hours per week
- First experiences in student clinic
- Human Developmental Diagnosis – 4 credits, 4 hr/wk
- Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Geriatrics
- Advanced Imaging (with imaging lab) – 3 credits, 4 hr/wk
- Chest x-ray and spinal MRI reading predominate this course
- Diagnosis & Management of Extremities Conditions – 3 credits, 4 hr/wk
- Clinical Nutrition – 2 credits, 2 hr/wk
- Coding, Billing, and Documentation – 2 credits, 2 hr/wk
- Business & Practice Management – 2 credits, 2 hr/wk
- Contemporary Concepts in Chiropractic – 1 credit, 2 hr/wk
- Ergonomics – 2 credits, 2 hr/wk (an elective)
- Craniofacial Biology & Pediatric Cranial Techniques – 1 credit, 1 hr/wk (an elective)
That’s 24 credits, with 24 hours in my ten classes and labs, and 6 hours in the student clinic each week. Whew. Still, there are some really cool topics, like reading MRI or differentially diagnosing shoulder pain. Then there are the dry but essential topics like billing- as one classmate suggested, “When we are applying for jobs, I feel like I can tell them I know how to do this right, and improve the value of the practice.” (The professor didn’t even have to pay her to say that.) And of course there are spaces for electives like Craniofacial Biology, taught by a professor who spent years studying this specialized topic at Johns Hopkins University. But it is the last semester that we see such a full schedule of lecture-style coursework.
Now, with the semester ending, we get to look forward to a year of full-time clinical internships, rotations, and all the freedom and responsibilities that come along. But more on that in a few weeks.