Record intern numbers as an opportunity for workplace redesign (part 2)
Following on from the previous post where I suggested new ways of allocating teams and shift work for interns and JMOs I’d like to propose another approach to workplace redesign.
There are many tasks that interns could do to broaden their workplace experience / training and provide meaningful benefit in the hospital system.
An example is medicines reconciliation. This is the job of ensuring that patients admitted to hospital have an accurate medication history such that the medications that are supposedly prescribed for them are properly documented and when they are altered this is properly communicated back to the prescribers – family doctors and specialists. This is a continuous process through admission and discharge. Because of the lack of pharmacists in public hospitals fewer than 10% of patients, usually the highest risk patients, have this service performed. Rarely does it happen properly at discharge and many discharge letters are just wrong. Reconciliation reduces medication errors and hopefully improves patient safety.
This task is allocated to pharmacists but it doesn’t need to be: it is the responsibility of pharmacists, nurses, and doctors. And if there is a surplus of interns why not use them to perform this task.
There are many related tasks they could (or should) perform: communicating with GPs, patient education, hygiene monitors, and blood collection (which we all used to have to do). They could also be exposed to more disciplines integral to medical practice like radiology and lab based medicine.
Let’s think about the tasks that interns could do if we really have a surplus.