A Health Careers Scholarship Recipient’s Message
Dear Mrs. Cooley and Scholarship Committee,
I first off wanted to thank you sincerely for the great privilege of receiving this scholarship. To say that I am humbled and grateful is a dramatic understatement.
I wanted to share something that changed my medical school educational experience that you are free to share as you see fit. The transition from
second to third-year medical school is rough to say the least. Stress over exams performance, balancing material from each class, and long nights studying during the first two years are replaced with stress over clinical performance, balancing book medicine versus practical medicine, and long nights seeing patients. In the whirlwind of change, I quickly became engrossed in the not-so-glorious aspects of medicine, including the hours of writing notes, calling consultant services, and rounding on patients, all while awaiting the attending physician pop quiz questions that are sure to stump me. My focus gradually and imperceptibly shifted from why I went into medicine–giving people the opportunity to live and enjoy healthier lives–to what I had to do in medicine–a lot of mundane work in physician workrooms on computers and phones.
That is, until I met someone I’ll call Jason. While on my pediatrics inpatient rotation, our team ran a busy service with a mix of general, neurological, psychiatric, and complex medical problems. I came in at the usual 6am when the winter night was still fresh with no signs of sunlight. I received report with the team from the tired overnight resident physician. Of the many patients I could pick up as a medical student, my eye caught Jason’s chart, a young boy who was transferred from another hospital because of severe domestic abuse. With each note I read, his story became more and more depressing. I expected to see a cowering, untrusting patient when I first introduced myself. What I found was a friendly, talkative boy who needed attention and medical care as much as I needed a change of perspective on my medical education.
After we had cleared him of any anatomic injuries or defects, we treated and monitored him over the following days for refeeding syndrome, an imbalance in blood electrolytes in starved individuals who are suddenly given food. Fortunately, his electrolyte disturbances stabilized, and he gained almost 15 pounds in less than a week! What made Jason different than any other patient I had taken care of was he wasn’t just a set of lab values and radiology reports I needed to present and explain to an audience of
healthcare providers on rounds. He was a person I wanted to help recover, to be healthy, and live a life a boy his age deserved to live. One without fear, one with genuine compassion that he could feel.
It was a bittersweet day when his foster parent picked him up after an extensive social workup, but overall I’m excited for him and the new life he had to look forward to. More than that, I reflect on my experience caring for Jason as a turning point that helped me realize and want to change my approach to patient care that is less focused on getting “Honors” in my clerkship grade and more centered on doing what I came to medical school to do. He allowed me to see how the “have tos” of medicine can be combined with the joy and passion of caring for people.
Thank you again,