This spring, in addition to her academic and athletic obligations at Dublin, Brittany Williams ’11 interned with Doctor Hare in Keene, New Hampshire. This internship was arranged primarily through Dublin’s nurse, Mandy Bradford, who knew of Brittany’s interest in the medical field and was able to connect her to this office.
Doctor Hare is an allergist, and Brittany was able to shadow both him and the nurses during her visits. Typically, she would observe the doctor as he spoke to patients, and then have a private discussion with him afterwards. She learned about various techniques used at the office, such as scratch tests, which help determine what patients are allergic to, and asthma tests. Brittany described a recent patient who underwent an asthma test, and Brittany was able to observe her results on a graph.
One element of the office environment that surprised Brittany was how the doctor and nurses were required “to have a lot of people skills, almost more than medical skills!” This includes making sure the patient is comfortable enough to talk openly and honestly with you, as a diagnosis can be very difficult without detailed prior information about the patient. “With allergies, you have to be a detective!” She said. Sometimes the tests are inconclusive, and information pertaining to patients’ lifestyle and diet changes can prove to be crucial in understanding their problems. Additionally, Brittany described how parents and couples that visited the office together sometimes fundamentally disagreed over treatment options, either for themselves or for their children. Trying to respect and respond to both opinions was a delicate and necessary task, she explained.
Another aspect of the office that intrigued Brittany was its use of voice-activated technology to record patient data. Instead of writing information down on paper, the doctor and nurses addressed a computer, which transcribed their comments. All in all, Brittany said the experience gave her an understanding of the behind-the-scene realities of working in a doctor’s office.
Brittany will be heading to Agnes Scott College in Georgia next fall, and plans on either becoming a pediatrician or an employee of the Center for Disease Control. She says she’s always wanted to be a doctor, and that she loves working with kids. Her interest in the Center for Disease Control stems from a fascination with diseases and their effect on human populations: “I find all of that really interesting, and I really want to know more about the elements of our water and the chemicals in our daily lives; there’s so many things to know and research!”