New Clinical Rotation Sites
By Katherine Dvorak
To ensure diverse clinical experiences for students and residents, and to present them with the opportunity to help a wide range of patients, the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) recently broadened its clinical rotation site offerings.
SMHS has added six new sites across Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and, in one case, Maine.
“We want to make sure students and residents are well-prepared to take care of diverse patient populations, and we believe that exposing the students and residents to different hospitals that have unique patient populations is beneficial for their careers,” says Richard Simons, MD, senior associate dean for MD programs and professor of medicine at SMHS.
He added that currently the Washington, D.C., region has four medical schools competing for clinical training sites in the District, so finding sites outside city limits is important for SMHS.
The VA Maine Healthcare System, in Camden, Maine, is one of the farthest from the Foggy Bottom Campus, at a distance of more than 600 miles, but it offers an unparalleled experience for ophthalmology residents, says Harold Frazier, MD, interim associate dean for graduate medical education at SMHS. Residents at the site have greater exposure to a robust anterior eye surgery program, he adds. Previously, residents rotated at the VA in Martinsburg, Virginia, but changes in faculty and opportunities there prompted a switch to the new site.
Closer to the District is a rotation site at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland. This site, says Simons, is open to students and offers an array of services. “It’s a very sophisticated hospital and has an excellent commitment to patient safety and quality improvement,” he says. “It’s one of the best-performing hospitals in the state of Maryland.”
Currently, students are participating in an internal medicine rotation at the site. Because Anne Arundel does not yet have internal medicine residents, it allows medical students to work one-on-one with the attending physician. Simons says GW also hopes to build additional clerkship capacity with Anne Arundel in other areas.
Residents and students further will be able to support underserved residents of Maryland and the District through rotations at clinics run by the Mary’s Center. The community health center was founded in 1988 and serves populations with limited access to health care at nine clinics in the District and Maryland.
“It’s a unique exposure for [students and residents] because they’re working with underresourced and underserved communities in a primarily Spanish-speaking population,” explains Frazier.
The Office of Graduate Medical Education is always looking for unique opportunities for residents, he says, relying on the expertise and knowledge of the residency program directors when it comes to the addition of new rotation sites.
Another unique population available to residents is at the Goodwin House in Alexandria, Virginia, where they have an opportunity to assist terminally ill patients. Residents will be part of a palliative medicine rotation, helping those who are likely much sicker and older than at a typical rotation. This will expand their exposure and competency when it comes to palliative care, Frazier notes. Simons adds that SMHS is both filling the need for more clerkships and looking to enhance students’ and residents’ experiences.
Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is offering students the opportunity to participate in a pediatric clerkship. SMHS also has existing clerkships at the DC VA Medical Center in areas such as internal medicine, and has added new slots for the surgery clerkship and neurology resident rotations.
In addition, GW has an existing contract for physician assistant students to rotate at United Medical Center (UMC). As of April 1, the GW Medical Faculty Associates (MFA) began providing physicians and advanced practice providers to staff UMC’s adult emergency services, where, this summer, the MFA took charge of its hospitalist services.
Robert Shesser, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and professor of emergency medicine at SMHS, adds that GW is working on agreements for student and resident rotations during this academic year.