Identifying clinical pathways for injection drug–related infectious sequelae

SHM grantee, med student seeks career as a hospitalist-administrator


Editor’s Note: The Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM’s) Physician in Training Committee launched a scholarship program in 2015 for medical students to help transform health care and revolutionize patient care. The program has been expanded for the 2017-18 year, offering two options for students to receive funding and engage in scholarly work during their first, second and third years of medical school. As a part of the longitudinal (18-month) program, recipients are required to write about their experience on a monthly basis.

It is not surprising that my medical school – home to a group of passionate thought leaders in health service and policy research, including the Dartmouth Atlas and Accountable Care Organization – required all first-year medical students to take a course called “health care delivery science.”

The course offered me the first glimpse into quality improvement. However, because of a lack of clinical context, much of the course remained theoretical until my clinical years. During the hospital medicine rotation, I took care of a 40-year old patient who was newly diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. It was challenging to deliver devastatingly bad news. The patient and family, however, were most confused and frustrated by the roles of different specialists and care providers, the purpose and scheduling of procedures, and diet arrangement. I wondered how I could make their experience better.

Yun Li, an MD/MBA student at Geisel School of Medicine and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Hanover, N.H..

Yun Li

During my additional year of MBA training, I learned about value delivery, operational excellence, and macro health care trends focusing on patient satisfaction. These concepts brought me to the realization that, to achieve the best patient outcome and the most rewarding physician-patient relationship, physicians need not only excellent clinical knowledge and skills, but also the ability to empower an interdisciplinary team, engage in quality improvement, and strive for institutional excellence. My patients and my training served as the original incentives for me to plan a career as a clinician-administrator, as well as applying for the SHM grant.

After several meetings with my mentor, Professor Jonathan Huntington, a hospitalist, MD-PhD researcher, and director of Care Coordination Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), we identified a research area that has rising interest, importance, and relevance to the rural New Hampshire population. It is about identifying a clinical pathway for injection drug–related infectious sequelae.

Because of the unique bio-socio-psycho needs of injection drug users, hospitalizations due to injection-related infection sequelae often contribute to increased length of stay, readmission rates, and expenses out of state and federal health care funding. Prolonged stays also result in the waste of tertiary care resources for nontertiary needs, underutilization of regional care resources such as community and critical access hospitals, and increased care burden, as most patients travel long distances to obtain care.

We will pilot and implement a clinical pathway in the medicine units and measure length of stay, readmission rate, patient satisfaction rating, infectious disease provider follow-up rate, and hospitalization cost. I appreciate the grant support from SHM, and am looking forward to working with Dr. Huntington and other providers at DHMC, as well as developing myself professionally.

Yun Li is an MD/MBA student attending Geisel School of Medicine and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Hanover, N.H. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hanover College double-majoring in Economics and Biological Chemistry. Ms. Li participated in research in injury epidemiology and genetics, and has conducted studies on traditional Tibetan medicine, rural health, health NGOs, and digital health. Her career interest is practicing hospital medicine and geriatrics as a clinician/administrator, either in the United States or China. Ms. Li is a student member of the Society of Hospital Medicine.

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