Through the Eyes of a Medical Student
My experiences at the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic at Riley at IU Health have been exceedingly educational and fulfilling. Going into this rotation, I was hoping to get a better understanding of craniofacial birth defects and the indications and techniques for plastic surgery. However, I was not expecting to be involved in such a vast array of people working together as a team to provide the most wholesome and complete care as they could for each patient at hand. I was dually amazed at the variety of healthcare workers involved in the treatment of the kids seen in clinic, ranging everywhere from nurses and speech therapists to plastic surgeons and dentists.
Before meeting these children and their families I wasn’t exactly sure why a child with micrognathia (small jaw) would need to see a respiratory therapist or why a child with midline cleft lip would need a head CT. However, the more I learned the more I was able to understand that a small jaw many times causes sleep apnea or that a midline cleft lip could be associated with other problems. The doctors were able to help me link all of these things together.
Even more surprising was that these specialized workers were all available on the same day to see and assess the children as needed, creating a team approach to caring for the child without the hassle of going to five different places on five different days or calling person after person to schedule the multitude of appointments. This is beneficial to the families, who often have to endure long driving distances and exuberant gas prices every time they come for a check-up, not to mention trying to get off work, finding a babysitter for other kids, etc. However, it is also beneficial to the healthcare workers in the different specialties, as they are able to collaborate with each other in person to create the best plan for each patient right then and there.
My time at the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic has been unforgettable, but the best part about my experience is the continuity of care. It was so awesome to see a patient in the clinic, meet their family, and discuss the upcoming surgery with them and then to be able to watch the surgeons perform their magic! I also had the pleasure of seeing some of the patients in the hospital after surgery and their improvements at a follow up appointment as well. To me, that was the most rewarding part because I really felt like I was a part of the healing process, while at the same time I was able to meet and get to know some absolutely amazing children and their families!
Author of this Article
Abbie Kleber is a 3rd year medical student at the Indiana University School of Medicine.