Wednesday, June 23, 2004

See One, Do One, Teach One

One patient so far this week, a young woman with anxiety disorder who wanted to be reassured that her shortness of breath wasn't a sign of impending asthma. And it wasn't. I was able to see her at 8PM after she initially called in the afternoon for an appointment, but changed her mind. Twice.

I spent some time discussing anxiety disorders with her, and encouraged her to consider trying anti-anxiety medications as her psychiatrist suggested. Hopefully, she'll get better. And even though she didn't have any insurance (because she is a graduate student), she told me she would come back and see me when she got insurance coverage.

I hope I get some patients in my practice in the next 3 weeks since I am precepting a 2nd year medical student as part of the California Academy of Family Physicians' Summer Preceptorship Program. It pairs an practicing family physician with a newly minted 2nd year medical student who is interested in family medicine as a possible career choice. They spend 4 weeks shadowing the physician, and at the end, get a $1000 stipend. Having done this many summers over the past several years, it is always fun for me and hopefully inspires a student to go on to FP. This year's student is from USC, and even though I am a UCLA alumni, I am treating him like any of my other past students. I'm just that kind of guy. (For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, read this.)

For those of you who have not tried teaching medical students or residents, I highly recommend it as the experience can be quite rewarding.

I started inputting data into Medrium yesterday and have submitted 5 claims so far for a net total of $780. Of course, I don't expect to get all of that, but even some of it would be helpful seeing as I'm down to about $2000 in my checking account. We'll see how long it takes to process these electronic claims, or whether any claims get kicked back to me. Even though entering the info is kind of tedious, I can see myself getting faster as I learn what needs to be entered. I was one of the faster coders in my medical billing class, after all. I even toyed with the idea of trying to get some work as a medical coder (incognito, of course) just to see if I could code as well as a "real" coder. But before I got the chance, the instructor found out I was a physician, so that blew my cover.

But I am a believer in learning new things and doing things myself. And after I learn them, then I can teach someone else. Knowledge is power. A medical records file clerk has power over me as long as I don't know how to find a chart. A medical assistant has power over me if I have to wait for her to get vitals on the patient before I can see him. A medical coder has power over me if he can take 8% of my charges in return for writing some numbers on a piece of paper. Now, I am getting some of that power back, as I learn my way around the business end of medical practice. It may not be a pretty end, but it's the end that makes this beast called Medicine go.