Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Wittenberg keeps a busy schedule, but after shadowing physicians for two days earlier this week he was surprised at what a physician goes through in a normal day.
“I think I'm busy, but I was amazed how often their pagers went off,” he said.
Judge Wittenberg was one of five people from the community who took part in this year's mini-internship program offered by the Academy of Medicine of Toledo and Lucas County. The Academy, which is a professional organization representing many of the area's physicians, has had 101 people go through its mini-internship program since 1985.
“We do it to show people really what medicine is all about. It's the only way - to walk in their shoes,” said Academy executive director Lee Wealton, who himself has gone through the mini-internship.
Mr. Wealton said doctors, hospitals, and clinics give full access to participants. The Academy has even had malpractice lawyers take part in the program.
Judge Wittenberg was interested in the program because his son has just started his medical residency in radiology. The judge spent time in radiology, cardiology, and at an emergency room during his two-day internship.
“It was really enlightening,” he said. “I was impressed with the professionalism and the seriousness of the doctors.”
Among the other mini-internship participants this year were: Sandy Isenberg, president of the Board of Lucas County Commissioners; Marla Osgood, assistant Lucas County prosecutor, and Patricia Hanna, benefits manager at Libbey Glass, Inc. Each participant had a different group of doctors to shadow.
Here are experiences involving some of the physicians involved with the program:
One example of how modern scans can help showed up when he took a close look at a computer tomography imaging scan of a young child and discovered evidence of child abuse, something that might have gone undetected a few years ago. But while magnetic resonance imaging and CT scans are a big help, some physicians rely on them too much, he said.
Dr. Singer said some physicians are so worried about being sued they order unnecessary scans, known as “defensive medicine.”
But the best moment comes when he walks to a nearby waiting room and tells the child's mother that the surgery went perfectly. He draws a picture of the finished procedure to show the mother, who smiles and thanks him.
Her only frustration is what she calls the intrusion of insurance companies and others into the practice of medicine. She racks her brain trying to come up with a migraine medication that will work because the patient's insurance company refuses to pay for the standard treatment.
She frowns when another patient tells her a pharmacist sold her a larger dose of medication and told her to split the pills so it would save money. The technique could be harmful to patients with some medications, she said.