Although it’s been in use since 1996, the term “hospitalist” is still unfamiliar to many people. A hospitalist is a physician whose primary focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Most hospitalists are trained in internal medicine, which focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions that affect adults. In addition to caring for people when they are hospitalized, hospitalists assess and admit patients who arrive at the hospital in need of urgent or emergency care.
Laura Jin, MD, is a hospitalist with a twist. Nationally, only five percent of hospitalists have sub-specialties beyond internal medicine. As a specialist in internal medicine and gastroenterology, Dr. Jin is a member of this small and elite community of medical specialists.
As a physician in practice with Digestive Health Associates and a member of the Shore Health System medical staff, Dr. Jin plays important roles in consulting with hospitalized patients who have symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions.
“Whenever a patient is admitted to the hospital with GI problems, they’re usually experiencing urgent, acute or complicated problems, sometimes all three,” Dr. Jin says. “Timely assessment and recommendation of treatment to the admitting physicians are very important. My experiences with both internal medicine and gastrointestinal diseases suit me very well in this unique position.”
After graduating from the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai, China, Dr. Jin completed her medical residency there and was awarded the bronze medal as Outstanding Physician in Shanghai. She then completed her GI fellowship at the same institution, where she later taught medicine and received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Science for Women.
Dr. Jin relocated to the US in 1988 as a visiting scientist and research associate at the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. She received a Glaxo Fellows Award in 1992 and has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals in both the US and abroad. Dr. Jin was an assistant professor, a GI motility specialist and director of the GI Motility Laboratory at the University of Rochester. She finished additional clinical work at the University of Rochester Medical Center before moving to Easton with her husband, Robert Ding, MD, and their family.
Dr. Jin has worked at The Memorial Hospital at Easton as a hospitalist for ten years. For the last three years she has specialized in GI medicine. “I enjoy working as a diagnostician and brainstorming everyday,” Dr. Jin says. “Finding the root of the problem and offering cures for the patients are truly rewarding.”
Dennis De Shields, MD, a full-time hospitalist on staff at Memorial Hospital, comments, “Dr. Jin is an excellent clinician with a wonderful bedside manner. Her accessibility at the hospital means she can expedite the patient’s diagnostic evaluation, treatment and provide efficient quality care. She’s accessible to the patient’s family as well.”
After making her preliminary assessment, Dr. Jin consults with gastroenterologists Michael Fisher, MD, Volkan Taskin, MD, and Matthew Troshinsky, MD. With Dr. Jin managing GI care for hospital patients, her colleagues can focus on performing GI procedures and providing outpatient care at the Digestive Health Center in Easton. If a hospitalized patient needs a GI procedure, such as an endoscopy or colonoscopy, Dr. Jin will schedule the procedure which is then performed by one of the gastroenterologists.
“Before Dr. Jin joined our team, it used to be really tough for us to drop what we were doing in the middle of the day to respond to emergencies in the hospital,” says Dr. Fisher, who is medical director of the Digestive Health Center. “Now, as soon as Dr. Jin gets to the ER, we can get things underway.”
Dr. Fisher adds, “The beauty of having Dr. Jin as a clinician is that she’s a skilled internist. This is really good for the patient.”
Good communication is the key to making patient care more efficient and saving time and money. Dr. Jin explains, “I communicate with other hospitalists on a regular basis. I send out consultation notes to the patient’s primary care physician on the same day the patient is seen. I coordinate the patient care with other specialists, if needed. For example, if a patient is bleeding and is on a blood thinner, I would discuss with his or her cardiologist the risks and benefits of discontinuing the medication temporarily or altogether.”
Dr. Jin adds, “When I treat patients, I listen to them and try to get to know them better not only as patients but also as friends. Empathy and attention to their social and spiritual needs are things I try to show my patients every day.”
Dr. Fisher adds, “Dr. Jin’s interpersonal skills put people at ease. She has such a wonderful, calming influence. In my career, there’s never been any other person I’ve worked with so easily, not only to seamlessly tackle the clinical problems confronting us but also just as a colleague and friend. Working with her is really one of the joys of my career. We are extremely lucky to have her in our community.”