Report my experience in the externship at the Department of Hospital Medicine in Shands Hospital, UF Health

Tokyo Bay Urayasu Ichikawa Medical Center General Internal Medicine Resident

Shuhei Uchiyama

I am honored to report my experience in the externship at the Department of Hospital Medicine in Shands Hospital, UF Health, a program by the International Exchange Program Committee of ACP Japan Chapter.

I applied to this program because I would like to be a resident in the U.S., and to become a specialist in hospital medicine in the future. Since the field is not yet common in Japan, I thought that I would be able to gain a lot of experience that could not be obtained in my country. Consequently, my guess was correct.

I observed two branches of the division; the floor team and the consultation team. The floor team basically takes care of inpatients who have multiple health problems not limited to one organ. In my hospital, I usually work as a general internal medicine doctor, and I noticed that there is not such a big difference in terms of work content and treatment strategy between U.S. and Japan. I was pleased to know that the clinical skills that I have gained in my workplace are as good as the ones residents of one of the best teaching hospitals in the U.S. can learn.

The consultation team consists of a resident and an attending doctor. They accept consultations from other departments and procedures including thoracentesis, paracentesis, lumbar puncture, and so on. The main cases of referrals are co-management of patients in surgery divisions. For example, we get many patients from orthopedics with comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart failure. The cooperation between each department to treat patients was quite impressive.

Since this unique consultation system is the biggest reason for me to become a hospitalist in the U.S., I was happy to have the chance to observe their work. Though the system is not prevalent in my country, I am convinced that it is beneficial to both patients and doctors in other departments because surgeons do not have to take care of those problems and can concentrate on their specialties, and patients are treated by specialists of internal medicine. In the future, I would like to learn about this culture and bring it back to my country to make the Japanese healthcare system better.

Not only was it an excellent chance to learn about medicine in America, but it was also such a great opportunity for me in terms of my future carrier as a resident. Doctor Kattan, the attending doctor, was so generous that he allowed me to see patients and make presentations on each round. Although it was a short externship, I felt that I made a significant improvement in my clinical skills through this experience. I believe that it was achieved by reflecting on the attending doctor’s evaluation and advice about my assessments, plans, and presentations every day. He also asked me a lot of clinical questions related to patients during rounds, which revealed that I need to be more familiar with a wide variety of diseases, treatments, etc. I also realized that it was vital for me to acquire his ability to educate residents and medical students in the future.

Through this externship, my determination of becoming a hospitalist has only gotten deeper. I strongly recommend this program to those who wish to work in the United States.

Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the attending doctors who gave us the chance to join the externship, doctors in IECP of ACP Japan Chapter including Dr. Maliishi, and Dr. Stein who kindly and wholly helped me before and during my stay in Gainesville, Florida.

My externship experience at Division of Nephrology, University of Florida

Yoshitsugu Obi, MD, PhD, FJIM, FASN

Advisor, Obi Clinic

I am a PGY-16 board-certified nephrologist and have done my clinical and epidemiological research at University of California Irvine between 2014-2018. While studying there, I have become intrigued with the US clinical practice, which I was not able to get familiar with just reading articles or analyzing data. I do need to do clinical practice by myself for this purpose, and I started preparing to become a US-certified physician even though it may seem ridiculous to start over my career at the age of 40’s. Therefore, it was very fortunate for me to obtain an opportunity for the 3-week externship at Division of Nephrology, University of Florida (UF). I learned a lot there, but here I would like to briefly summarize some of the most impressive experience.

Figure 1. South tower view from North tower

UF Shands hospital is a huge hospital with more than 800 beds (Figure 1), and health care is provided across four buildings including its associated Veterans Affairs medical center. The nephrology team divides into several groups into those physicians who cover the general wards and ICU, those who cover ER and the chronic care hospital, and those who cover kidney transplantation. Nephrology fellows rotate these locations throughout their training period. At Shands hospital, the primary care providers for inpatients are hospitalists and/or surgeons, and the main role of the nephrology team is consultation where they suggest treatment advice and provide dialysis treatments. They take care mainly of dialysis patients admitted for complications and those inpatients suffering from acute kidney injury and/or electrolyte abnormalities. Fellows see patients early in the morning and then meet the attending physicians to discuss treatment options. They start ward round after electric medical record review, which is very similar to what I have done in Japan.

One of the biggest differences to Japan was the socioeconomic backgrounds of patients. There were quite a few young patients with alcoholic cirrhosis complicated by hepatorenal syndrome and those IV drug users with infectious endocarditis complicated by acute kidney injury. I often encountered hemodialysis patients coming into ER for fluid overload after skipping their last treatment session for a variety of reasons. Also, I recall meeting an undocumented and uninsured immigrant patient with ESRD who presented to the ER in the middle of the night after driving all the way from Orlando, where he had been receiving regular hemodialysis care for many years, in the hopes of receiving a kidney transplant. Shands hospital, like most hospitals in the US, face challenges of taking care of uninsured and undocumented patients with chronic comorbidities such as CKD and heart failure. Some states, such as California and Illinois, are able to offer kidney transplantation to select undocumented ESRD patients, mainly because it is less costly than continuing regular hemodialysis. Nevertheless, I was deeply impressed to see that the nephrology physicians always made every effort to listen to patients, feel for them, and respect their will regardless of their social backgrounds.

Dr. Tantravahi

Dr. Ali

Figure 2.  


I had been just certified by ECFMG when I started this externship, and now I am preparing to start my career as a physician in the US. Therefore, it was a highly valuable opportunity for me to observe real clinical practice at UF Shands hospital before I work as a nephrology fellow. I greatly thank the nephrology attendings Dr. Tantravahi and Dr. Ali (Figure 2) who gave me flexible learning opportunities and taught me US medicine through discussions during their busy working time. I also thank Dr. Mark Segal, the Chief of Nephrology, and all the staff including Kayla; they welcomed me with warm hospitality although I was a total stranger to them. My special thanks go to Dr. Gerald Stein and ACP Japan Chapter for providing such a unique program. My experience at UF Shands hospital will definitely help me pursue my ambition to become a physician-scientist in the US, and I will strive to make my best effort to achieve my goal.