An observership is an educational experience that is restricted to watching and listening during patient histories, physical examinations, procedures, surgeries, outpatient appointments, teaching rounds, and educational conferences.

Purpose: To facilitate the assimilation of graduates of international medical programs by providing the structure to learn the basic methodology of the health care system in the United States.

During the program, the observer may have the opportunity to:

  1. Learn the process of obtaining a history and physical
  2. Demonstrate patient/physician communication skills
  3. Describe the role of the health care team
  4. Review clinical, laboratory, and radiological data
  5. Demonstrate web based research
  6. Learn the process of writing a physician order
  7. Learn the process of writing a medication order
  8. Learn to present a clinical case for a patient conference
  9. Be familiar with the appropriate attire for a hospital or clinic
  10. Learn a basic understanding of HIPAA
  11. Describe a valid informed consent

Responsibilities of observers:

  1. Follow the instructions of the physician preceptor and don’t spend time in the clinic, hospital or private practice unless scheduled and approved by the preceptor
  2. Do not conduct physical examinations, treatments or diagnoses of any patient
  3. Accept no compensation
  4. Follow the rules and regulations of the hospital, clinic or private practice at all times
  5. Adhere to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) regulations
  6. Participate in any prerequisite training (e.g., HIPAA) at the hospital, clinic or private practice
  7. Pay for actual costs of administrative or prerequisite items (ECFMG certification, passport, immunizations, etc.)
  8. Participate in activities (clinical tutorials, ward rounds and clinic visits), and observe procedures and operations under the supervision of the preceptor
  9. Observe the use of electronic medical information systems, health records, laboratory and radiology reports, etc., if available, and familiarize yourself with patient data entry and access
  10. Research the general structure and organization of the S. health care system, as well as private sector and government payers
  11. Review clinical articles, posters and publications per the discretion of your preceptor
  12. Arrange your own transportation, meals and lodging
  13. Record observership hours and confirm your schedule and responsibilities with your physician preceptor regularly

Suggested learning objectives:

  • Monitor how a physician interacts with patients, noting how to take a history, perform an examination and diagnosis, recommend a treatment, code, write prescriptions and enter information on the patient’s chart, etc.
  • Study professional communication and interaction between the physician and all members of the health care delivery team and hospital administration
  • Understand and use American colloquialisms (slang, euphemisms, medical jargon, etc.)
  • Observe the delivery of health care in a private practice, hospital or clinical setting
  • Gain exposure to electronic medical records, and learn how to access and enter data