Innovative Session Immerses Students in Clinical Setting

DECEMBER 11, 2012 - An innovative opportunity allowed 20 MHSA students to spend 15 hours at the Washington DC VA Medical Center learning about the language of health care and medicine.

Ryung Suh (M’98, G’98, MBA’03), MD, MPP, MBA, MPH, associate professor of health systems administration, led the master’s students through the dynamic overnight session on Nov. 29-30.

Student Immersion

“We wanted to accomplish a few goals for the students with this experience,” Suh said. “First, we wanted to provide a broad familiarization with the structure of medical terminology and the common clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic terms that our students might someday encounter as administrators working with health care providers.”

Suh also noted that the session aimed to simulate the long hours and the demanding experience of being “on-call” overnight within a hospital in order to broaden the students’ perspectives.

Finally, he said, it sought to provide context for the medical terminology the students were learning by visiting parts of the hospital where those terms are most commonly used.

Experiential Learning

The Department of Health Systems Administration is known for providing its students with dynamic experiential learning opportunities – from residencies and executive mentorships, to case competitions and real-life quality improvement projects.

Patricia Cloonan, PhD, the department’s chair, said the overnight experience builds upon this strong foundation.

“There is no question that our students will need to know how providers communicate with one another and how to understand the language of disease and diagnosis,” she said. “We really wanted to develop and offer a unique opportunity for them to learn about these areas that went well beyond traditional classroom-based approaches.”

Positive Response

Student participants – despite the long hours – said the experience was well worth it.

“It was a well articulated deep dive into the staggering amount of medical information providers must compartmentalize and access regularly,” said Jade Wood (G’14).

Classmate Stephen Miller (G’14) added that the experience helped build camaraderie.

“Not only was it a great way to learn the medical terminology that is necessary for administrators to communicate with clinicians, but it was also a fun opportunity to bond with our classmates and professors outside of the typical classroom setting,” he said.

A Word of Thanks

Suh expressed his gratitude to the administrative staff at the medical center who made it possible for this educational experience to occur – including Raya Kheirbek, MD, who specializes in geriatric medicine, Brian Hawkins, facility director, and Joseph Davis, administrative officer.

“It is not easy to get a hospital to allow a large group of students to train there overnight, to utilize their conference rooms, to walk around their facilities, and to potentially distract health care providers and staff as they are going about their usual care of patients,” he said. “These individuals are very committed to the training of clinical students and administrators, and they were exceptional partners.”

By Sunbo Igho-Osagie (G'14) and Emily Berdy (G'14)