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Mini-internship program offers insight on how medical profession operates

The semiannual mini-internship program sponsored by the Clark County Medical Society has provided insight into how the medical profession works and appreciation for what Southern Nevada has in terms of doctors.

Legislators, judges, journalists and business leaders spend a half a day or a day with doctors and watch them treat patients and deal with the business side of medicine.

“It was mind-blowing,” said Las Vegas attorney Stacy Rocheleau, who did an internship with Joseph Adashek, a maternal medicine/fetal medicine doctor. “I could never imagine all of the information these doctors have to have in their brains going into every single appointment. They’re running so fast from patient to patient. It’s amazing the amount of knowledge that they have and what they know and all they know about the patients.”

Keith Brill, president of the Clark County Medical Society, said the program gains popularity as people participate in it. Many didn’t realize it existed and want to do it again, he said.

“It’s a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes of a medical practice and get to see a glimpse of what the world of medicine looks like from providers point of view. I kind of look at it like someone who goes on a cruise and there’s a behind the scenes tour like to go see a bridge. I’m not saying we’re as fascinating as a cruise ship, but people are intrigued by it but most don’t get a chance to go see what it’s like.”

Most people see a doctor only through the lens of a patient, but people in the program see the challenges providers face in terms of their schedules, dealing with medical records, hospitals calling them and insurance companies authorizing or denying procedures, Brill said. They get to hear the prospective of the doctors and see the back-office challenges, he said.

“Many people assume these rich doctors just like to complain,” Brill said. “That’s not at all what we are doing. The profession of medicine has changed from previous generations. It’s a business like any other business and there are real changes. This is a business where most patients aren’t paying for their care upfront. It’s not like they’re putting it on a credit card. It’s paid for by an insurance company or third-company provider months and months later. For community leaders to see how the process works for a doctor’s office, it gives them an idea of what it’s like to practice medicine.”

Michael Rocheleau, marketing director and administrator of Right Lawyers, spent his internship with pediatric gastroenterologist Howard Baron. He said his experience impressed him about the complexity of medicine in dealing with children and how much knowledge doctors must have. Rocheleau said for those who say Las Vegas doesn’t have any good doctors, they haven’t met Baron.

“We hear people say they don’t like the school system and you read about that in the papers.,” Rocheleau said. “It’s the same thing with doctors. You hear we don’t have great doctors and we don’t have this and we don’t have that. We are not Los Angeles or San Francisco but individually there’s some really good doctors, and the program taught me that.”

Brill said it’s great that the medical community gets involved with the non-medical community and establishes relationships with legislators and other leaders as issues arise in the Southern Nevada medical community.

William Evans, a pediatric cardiologist, said he’s been participating in the program for several years and recently hosted Marcia Turner, vice chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education and Assemblyman Paul Aizley. Evans said the program exposes people to the care that’s provided and said participants if they aren’t familiar with the profession are shocked at what doctors do in their daily practices.

“People think they have to go somewhere else for health care,” Evans said. “When these people see what we’re doing, it’s an eye-opening experience. It’s very helpful.”

Rocheleau acknowledges the internship changed her perspective and encourages other people to participate it in the program. It gave her a perspective on the back end of the medical profession, she said.

“The level of patient care and the connection doctors have with patients is really neat,” Rocheleau said. “I always heard the joked that if you want a good doctor, go to the airport. There are so many good doctors that are really committed to the good practice of medicine and their patients. They put their patients first. It really did change my perception of our physicians in Southern Nevada.”