For my first two weeks of “pediatrics,” I participated in a brand-new elective called “The Electronically Engaged Pediatric Family Consult.” This elective explores the potential uses for informatics and electronic resources in bettering patient care. I accompanied a number of physicians over the course of the two weeks–one physician in pediatric surgery clinic, one on a general inpatient team, and a few in the NICU.
As part of my duties on this elective, I signed some patients’ parents up for the My Health at Vanderbilt online portal so that they can communicate with care providers, see lab results, and access other features that may facilitate their child’s care. I also interviewed some parents in an effort to identify resources such as apps and websites that they might be able to use in various aspects of managing their children’s conditions. For example, I found some websites, forums, and social media groups that might be useful for the family of a child with juvenile idiopathic arthritis–I also found a “pain diary” app that could help the child characterize her symptoms for her care providers. The whole process of interviewing families, finding resources, and proposing solutions in person and on paper was quite rewarding; I became really close with the mother of one particular patient and through multiple conversations had the opportunity to learn about her fears and frustrations in dealing with her daughter’s diagnosis. The girl was discharged from the hospital not too long ago, so I’ve sadly lost contact with the mom for now, but I still think about that family quite a bit.
All told, this was a great elective. I not only got to get a head-start on what inpatient peds might be like but also realized an interest in informatics that I hadn’t noticed before. In fact, I asked the course director to be my mentor for the research requirement I’ll be completing in early 2015.