A Health Careers Scholarship Recipient’s Message

I am truly honored to be selected as an IOKDS Health Careers Scholarship recipient. Thank you for believing in my ability to become a competent, caring physician who will strive to provide my patients with the best care. As I enter my final year of medical school, I reflect on a wonderful patient that I met during my psychiatry rotation. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. E, a 71-year-old woman who presented to the hospital because she had depression that was not adequately controlled with medications. She had negative thoughts about herself and delusions that she had an illness and was spreading it to others through particles in the air. Upon entering her room for the first time, I saw an elderly woman dressed very neatly in a blue shirt with a matching blue cardigan and khaki pants. She weakly smiled and gestured for me to come sit with her.

Every day I would enter Ms. E’s room and ask about her mood. I would also ask about her delusions and discuss what our plan was for the day as well as any activities she planned to attend. She was very engaged with group activities during her time in the hospital and was kind to the staff as well as the other patients. One day I congratulated Ms. E on her efforts in playing an active role in her health care. She thanked me and told me that one strategy she used to fight off her negative thoughts was prayer. She stated that God had helped her though many tough times in life and gave me a warm smile. I would frequently try to tell Ms. E a joke to make her laugh before I left her room. Most days it worked, other days I couldn’t get her to laugh. I always shook her hand before I would leave her room. After a few days, she commented that my hands were cold. I apologized and informed her my hands were cold because I frequently washed them to which she told me it was fine.

I then made it a point at the end of our subsequent discussions to ask Ms. E if my hands were warm after she shook them. She would smile and tell me yes they were warm or no they were cold. I was able to see her treatment progress and her mood improve during my rotation. She still had her delusions but was realizing that they may not be real. On my last day on the service, I told Ms. E that I had to start a new rotation the following day and that I truly enjoyed getting to know her and wished her the best in her recovery. I shook her hand one last time and asked if my hands were cold. She smiled and said, “Your hands are cold, but you have a warm heart.” I left realizing that I had as much of an impact on Ms. E as she had on me. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of a patient’s life and for them to be a part of mine. This scholarship has done more than to help finance my medical school education. It has allowed me to continue to meet amazing people with amazing stories. I am truly touched by your generosity and I want to say thank you from the bottom of my “warm” heart.

Crystal Taylor, MPH
MD Candidate Class of 2020
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine