Fresh off the heels of a family medicine residency, AUC grad Shumaila Alam, MD (’13) is a hospitalist at Newton Medical Center in Newton, New Jersey. Read on to learn how AUC prepared her for a career in relationship-centered care.
What is your current position?
I’m a hospitalist at Newton Medical Center with Atlantic Healthcare System. I just finished my family medicine residency at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson at CentraState Medical Center this past July.
What does it mean to be a hospitalist?
I take care of hospitalized patients who were admitted through the ER. Since it’s not practical for each of their primary care doctors to check on them in the hospital, we act as a liaison to provide that continuity of care. So you keep in touch with the primary care physician from the time the patient is admitted until they’re released. It’s a nice cohesive system to keep everybody up-to-date.
Why is this approach better for the patient?
I’m a familiar face—they see me every day and don’t need to repeat their patient history to a million different doctors. As a patient, it can get very frustrating because you may not understand exactly what's going on, so to have the same person there is much nicer. You feel more comfortable and can get a better understanding of what's happening with you. After all, if I’m the one who’s treating you, I can explain what I’m doing more clearly than someone reading my notes off a chart. So it's easier for both parties that way.
Is this what you envisioned yourself doing?
Yes, I love that you can build relationships with patients over time. I always wanted my patients to be able to say, “Oh, I've been seeing this person since I was four years old,” and then, “Now I'm 50 and I'm still seeing this person.” Your doctor can be your friend, your confidant, somebody you trust. That's why I chose family medicine.
During residency, I got to take care of whole families—the baby, the mom, the grandmother, the dad. So, that was a really nice experience. And now with hospital medicine, I can do both things without stretching myself too thin. I can work in the hospital and then still have my clinic two days a week on my week off. The system is very flexible in allowing you to make your own schedule and work the way you imagined yourself working.
"When it comes to patient interaction, what matters is how well you’re able to connect with someone."
How did AUC prepare you for this role?
AUC made the process of getting my MD seamless, from housing, to classes, to scheduling clinical rotations. Everyone at AUC works really hard to accommodate you. In fact, that was one of the major reasons why I chose AUC: I felt like it was the best fit and that I would feel most comfortable there. I understood exactly what was expected of me and how AUC would support me along the way. So I'm really thankful for that.
What was your experience like at AUC?
The education was great. AUC offers classes that basically simulate clinical practice, where you work one-on-one with the professors—it's very personable. And if you have questions or if you’re struggling with something, it's not like you're a number in a class. Everybody knows you and is more than happy to help you out. You really do all become family. You study with each other, you spend your free time with each other, you learn to depend on each other.
The professors and the faculty make it very easy for you to get to know them one-on-one as well. We used to go hiking with our professors—one time we even went zip-lining with them. We’d go to the beach and have bonfires at the end of the semester. So it wasn't always just studying in the library all the time. Of course, we did a lot of that too, but there were times where you could enjoy yourself with your friends and your new family.
Any advice for future medical students?
Lots of people assume their undergrad major has to be biological sciences and they can’t diverge from that. But it’s not true. Undergrad is for exploring—it’s a chance to learn new things and become well-rounded. When you're a physician, it’s not just books and science—you have to be a people person. Your patient has to understand you. And if all you know is science and how to read the facts and relay them to somebody, you're not going to be the best physician. When it comes to patient interaction, what matters is how well you’re able to connect with someone.
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Posted December 12, 2016 01:34 PM