Me: Oh, so do doctors often include the PMIDs of articles for you to find?
Her: No, not usually. Often I’ll just have a subject or article names, and then I’m just typing in words. Today I looked for information on a rare disease where the skin gets lesions and gangrene. Some of the pictures were pretty gruesome. I hope I don’t ever get that!
Me: Haha, I know that my grandfather would often self diagnose himself with all kinds of horrible diseases.
Her: Oh yes, people do that a lot. We’ll have people call up with symptoms and want to be diagnosed. We have to be very careful and remind them that we can’t give medical advice. Sometimes we’ll pull up MedLine Plus and read it verbatim to them. But before they get off we’ll always tell them to ask their doctor about everything!
Me: What is your favorite part of the job?
Her: Helping people, especially patients. I don’t interact with a lot of patients, but every now and then one will come down with questions. We had one man come in recently with a dietary problem due to his condition. He was so happy when we found an alternative for him. Sometimes doctors will ask us for help in calming patients – they’ll want me to find information they can give the patient to keep them from being so nervous.