It is 5:45 a.m. on a recent Monday and Rachel Shelly-Abrahamson, a third-year medical student, is in an office cubicle at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara, intently studying patient medical records on a computer screen. She quickly takes detailed notes, because in less than an hour, she, accompanied by a Kaiser Permanent physician, will be seeing patients for the first time.
Shelly-Abrahamson and seven of her classmates are part of a first-ever medical clerkship partnership between Boston University Medical School and The Permanente Medical Group. Kaiser Permanente has trained third-year medical students before, but this is the first time a year-long program has offered training in multiple clinical departments at Kaiser Permanente medical centers in Santa Clara and San Jose.
“This is a unique partnership between BU and The Permanente Medical Group that builds on our shared mission of clinical excellence,” says Dr. Harley Goldberg, Director of Graduate Medical Education at Kaiser Permanente San Jose and an acting Dean on Duty for the program for Boston University.
The third year of medical school is the first time that students like Shelly-Abrahamson and her classmates see patients. She is now in her surgery rotation with her classmate Winnie Wong and they can expect to also do rotations in Family Medicine, ObGyn, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Neurology and more.
“For two years, we’ve been reading about diseases,” says Shelly-Abrahamson, “now I get to help the people whose lives have been affected by those conditions.” Born and raised in the Bay Area, the medical training is a homecoming of sorts for Shelly-Abrahamson and some of the other BU students.
The medical students are supervised by Kaiser Permanente physicians, and share the care of the doctor’s patients. They conduct physical exams, some procedures, meet with nurses and complete reports. The students are impressed with Kaiser Permanente health care.
“I wanted to clerk at Kaiser because it’s known for its efficiency and patient safety,” says Wong, whose family is from the Boston area. “Patients are at the center of everything at Kaiser Permanente,” says Shelly-Abrahamson. “And that makes it so much easier for us to care for them.”
The clerkship program with Boston University started at the end of May, but in a short time the medical students are already getting rave reviews from physicians at Kaiser Permanente.
“Outstanding. Energetic. Stellar,” were words used by Dr. Maureen Tedesco, a surgeon at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara who is the department’s clerkship director. Tedesco has worked with Shelly-Abrahamson and Wong. “The Boston U. medical students are engaging and thoughtful and they’re so excited to adapt the knowledge they’ve gotten in two years to the care of our patients.”
Tedesco says the BU medical students also inspire her and her colleagues to be excellent role models and teachers for the future physicians.
Recalling long days and nights of studying during her first two years of medical school, Shelly-Abrahamson said she welcomes the chance to care for patients and work with physicians at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara.
“To say its rewarding is an understatement,” says Shelly-Abrahamson.