Jeff Belkora, Professor

Closed (1) The Patient Support Corps at UCSF

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

“This apprenticeship has been the highlight of my time at Berkeley. It has given me a chance to help patients in difficult medical situations, and as a pre-health undergraduate, this is important to me.”

“It is a great opportunity to get clinical experience and work with like-minded people who care about creating a change in health care.”

“We have a great deal of autonomy when working with patients, and it is also a rewarding experience because the patients really do appreciate the service that we give them.”

The Patient Support Corps (PSC) presents a rare opportunity for undergraduates to deliver direct services to patients, and to help evaluate the impact of such patient support.

PSC students can go beyond shadowing or observation – we train them to serve as health coaches, navigators, and patient advocates. They are badged as student interns at the UCSF Medical Center.

After training and certification, new PSC student interns call patients with upcoming appointments and help them access information about their condition (patient education). Returning PSC interns also help patients prepare questions for their doctors (question coaching), and accompany some patients to their appointments to help with asking questions, taking notes, and making audio-recordings.

We are looking for students who see themselves being involved with the PSC for at least one academic year, and ideally longer.

Intern Task assignments may change at any time depending on program needs.

Generally, for returning interns we will try to provide a series of roles with greater responsibilities as they progress through their years of service. Students will advance in our tiered system based on student performance.

Travel to UCSF will be required 1-2 times per week.

Learning Outcomes: Students will learn skills relevant to the competencies required of physicians by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education, in the categories of interpersonal communication; systems-based practice; practice-based learning; medical knowledge; and patient care.

Our program also conducts research on the data collected by students regarding patient needs and experiences.

Specific roles, tasks, and learning outcomes include:

Task 1: Clerical or data management work such as filing; photo-copying; online research; data entry; transcription; data quality control; administering surveys by telephone or in person; and work-related errands.

Task 2: Call patients with upcoming appointments; assess and document their needs; and refer them to resources that address their needs.

Task 3: Call patients who have been referred for more intensive coaching. Assure that the patients have reviewed educational materials about their condition; and assist them in writing a list of questions to be sent to their physician in advance of their upcoming consultation. The learning outcomes for this task are the same as Task 1 (ACGME competencies.) Our program conducts research on the data collected by students regarding patient questions.

Task 4: Accompany patients to appointments with surgeons and oncologists; take notes for the patient; and make audio-recordings of the visit. Summarize the notes and give copies of the summary and recording to the patient as a memory aid.

Task 5: Staff the help desk in clinic waiting areas when not occupied with tasks 1-4. This is the same as Task 1, in terms of assessing patient needs and referring them to resources, except that it occurs in person in our clinic waiting room rather than by telephone.

Task 6: Reflect critically on Tasks 1-5 every week in writing and in a case review meeting with the program director (Jeff Belkora) or coordinator (Tia Weinberg). Students will learn the Critical Incident Technique for practice-based learning and improvement. Our program conducts research on the data collected by students regarding barriers and facilitators relevant to program implementation.

Task 7: Maintain key standards after training in patient privacy, good clinical practices, legal and risk management requirements, and documentation and data collection and management. The learning outcomes for this task relate to ethics and professionalism in health care settings.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Tia Weinberg, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: REQUIRED: 1. One half-day per week available to be present at UCSF clinics. Onsite from 8 am to 12:30 pm or 12:30 pm to 6 pm (afternoon clinics may run late). Realistically that means a block of time each week when you can be away from campus from around 7 am to 2 pm for morning commitments or 11:30 am to 8 pm for afternoon (including public transit commute time). Some flexibility in those windows but appointments can run late and you must be able to stay with patients. 2. Aptitude for patient-centered, neutral, non-directive communication, including very clear enunciation and fluent English. 3. Devotion to professionalism. Be ready to leave behind all the informality of college campus interactions. We operate in a highly regulated, formal, and patient-centered environment. You must be obsessive about reading and following instructions, have unbelievable attention to detail, incredible devotion to doing things perfectly in this program. 4. Exceptional maturity, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence. 5. You will need to pay for commute and supplies, provide a laptop with a hard drive and internet connection, and consent to installing UCSF security software on your laptop, giving UCSF IT the ability to wipe your laptop remotely if it is stolen or missing. Google Chromebooks do not meet our UCSF encryption standards. Note: we apply each year for funds to partially reimburse commute expenses on the basis of financial need. DESIRED: 1. Preference given to sophomores and juniors who are interested in participating for multiple years. 2. Preference given to students interested in exploring health-related careers.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: 3333 California Street, Suite 265
San Francisco, CA 94115

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