Super Star Blogs!

Mentorship 101 Part 2 – What Every Mentee Needs to Know

As promised, here is part 2…

 

6.  LISTEN: This is important both for the mentor and mentee.  There is wisdom in those who allow and respect authority in their lives and are not above reproach.  Stay humble and hear your mentor’s point before dismissing it.  It may not make sense at first or it may never make sense but give it some time.  It is okay to respectfully disagree or get opinions from someone else.  A good mentor should understand this and not be overly domineering.  The both of you are fallible and should acknowledge that.  If they don’t respectfully listen to your point of view as well then there may be a problem.  Listening is essential but does not mean you must obey.  There is more than one way to skin a cat.  What worked for your mentor may not work for you so use your God-given brain to discern and realize what will work best for you.

7.  PULL YOUR WEIGHT: As already mentioned, most mentors are busy with their own lives and also are being mentored by others.  You need to put forth the effort to research and meet mini goals in order to build your mentor’s trust so they can invest in you.  Show them that you are serious and not just wasting their time.  Determine which relationships are formal and which are more casual.  For those that are more formal it may not be a bad idea to come up with a schedule.  For instance, ask them if you can write or call them once a month or every other month.  Pick a time frame that works for the both of you, that doesn’t burden or conflict with each other’s schedules and still allows them to remember who you are.

8.  DO NOT BE A VICTIM: You will run into multiple “haters” (i.e. doubters) during your journey so there is no room for you to become your biggest hater.  We all have obstacles in life but these should be used to build character not destroy it.  Don’t let your race, gender, beliefs or environment hold you back.  Don’t think you have it “worse than everyone else” because you don’t know what the next person had to face in their lives.  I’ve met children of medical doctors who I was tempted to think they had it easy but when I hear some of their stories involving parents who were always working and never around and the high expectations placed on them it changed my opinion.  Remember that there are others who have walked down your path and paved the way so find them and learn from them (even if you have to read their autobiographies).  If you are struggling with some issues and have someone you can trust as a mentor, don’t be afraid to share them.  Your mentor may be able to relate or empathize with you.  The earlier the better so you can deal with the obstacle and get moving.  Life won’t slow down for you and a mentor left in the dark may give up on you.

9.  STAY CONNECTED: You are the driver on the mentor-mentee bus.  A good mentor will likely check on you every so often but don’t expect them to.  Send your mentors updates once in a while to let them know you are serious and progressing.  Forming a network is critical and will help you throughout life in more ways than you can imagine right now.  Don’t burn bridges.  Also, do not feel as though you have to stick with one person.  A good mentor should actually point you to others as well.  You may eventually surpass your mentor’s ability to provide quality advice and may even become on par or superior in knowledge in that area but do not simply break that bond.  There is something to be said about the experience of the mentor.  Again, never be above reproach.  If you are wise, you are better off than a foolish king who won’t listen to advice.  Allow these relationships to shift as you grow.  For example, your parent(s) are often there and willing to provide advice.  However, when they can’t in a particular area, hopefully they will at least humbly respect and offer support.  They play a huge role throughout our lives but this role should not be static and must evolve.  Both sides must allow this to take place, otherwise issues will arise.  The same is so for an academic or career adviser.  Your role is to get to where they are and not always stay under them.  A good mentor realizes this and won’t keep you under their wings forever but trust they have provided you with what you need to know and let you fly.  It is your responsibility to keep them updated.

10.  STEP UP AND GIVE BACK: I have some amazing role models/mentors in my life but it wasn’t always easy finding them.  Innovative platforms are now available (such as www.diversemedicine.org) to allow many serious students to mentor others and be mentored themselves right in the comfort of their homes.  This doesn’t solve all of the disparities out there but provides a means to reach most backgrounds and socioeconomic classes.  There is now less and less room for excuses to be made.  We all serve as mentors already to our children, younger siblings or friends whether we know it or not but our reach can be so much further.  Especially given that there are many misguided teenagers out there, I strongly recommend you actively find others to mentor in your daily life.  Mentoring others also allows you to grow yourself.  It’s a beautiful thing to see someone give back.

I am more than grateful for the mentors in my life.  Again, I remind myself why this is the most important topic in life.  As I hear of the recent tragedy involving the young teen that was shot dead and look at the violence that plagues the Middle East I see so many missed opportunities to change the world for the better.  Even as I look on my desk right now I have a few books by inspiring authors that have opened my eyes in many ways and encouraged new paths in my life.  As I read through the book of Ecclesiastes this morning and made sense of Solomon’s wisdom I appreciate this topic even more.

My Powerful White Coat

The feeling is near overwhelming!  Putting that long white coat on for the first time is like transforming from Clark Kent into Superman.   Here is the change: When you are wearing a short coat, nobody listens to you.  Put the long one on and they suddenly revere you.  Short coat, you’re just getting in the way.  Long coat, people are getting out of your way.  It’s funny how a little bit of extra cloth can change the way people look at you.  What’s even funnier is how it changes the way you look at yourself.

So, I’m going to speak the truth… us physicians can be arrogant people.  I mean, can you blame us??  When we walk down the hallway people literally stare.  They look at us as if we are superhuman and we can sometimes start to believe that.  But as soon as that coat comes off….”he’s just another guy.”  So what does that lead to, a passion for us to keep it on and relish in its power.

Our long coats give us the power to write orders!!! We order nurses around, order physical therapists around, and even order other physicians around.  But, worst of all, is the fact that we try to order our patients around.  Self-reflecting, I see how I get frustrated and mumble angry words to myself when a patient comes in with stage 1 hypertension and isn’t taking the medication I had prescribed.  Or even more annoying is when that 61 year old patient with coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease won’t take my advice to put down the cigarette.  I mean, don’t they see that we are the ones wearing the long coat??? Why can’t they understand that we are in charge, not them??

Well, that answer is simple; it’s because we are NOT in charge.  What physicians often forget is that our profession is one of SERVITUDE.  As a young physician, this is something that I continue to struggle with.  My enthusiasm and desire to make my patients better is so strong, that I often forget I am not their Daddy.  The funny thing is that most of my patients are much older than I am, and I’m the one trying to boss them around.   I forget that I am here to serve them!

I have finally come to realize that my powerful white coat isn’t a superhero’s cape; rather it is a simple cheap piece of cloth reminding me to be humble.  It tells me that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to take care of patients in the most intimate of ways, and my job is to help them accomplish their own goals, not my goals for them.   When a patient doesn’t want to quit smoking, I feel as though I am doing them a good service by encouraging them to stop.  But if he or she absolutely refuses, I have no right to look down on them for defying my order because they are in charge of the Patient-Doctor relationship, not me.  I am simply here to serve them.  I’ll end by stating the motto of Meharry Medical College where my wife graduated from: The Worship of God through SERVICE of Mankind.  Ponder That!

Congratulations to Grace! Premed of the Week

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Hello everyone! I grew up in Chicago, went to school in Boston, and recently moved down south to North Carolina. I’ve started using the word “y’all” like crazy and have been driving a car more than I’ve walking on my own two feet! I am a sucker for beautiful scenery and fall is my favorite season because of the foliage and cool weather. Since moving, I’ve gained interest in all kinds of activities I never thought I’d enjoy like hiking, running, and yoga.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  Mr. Scharlau was my AP Chemistry teacher in high school and he played the roles of teacher, mentor, father, and your personal cheerleader. 7+ years later I still remember his dedication to our classroom. He’d stay long past school hours to offer extra hours of assistance on practice problems and meet on weekends with our study groups. He didn’t just make sure we were successful in chemistry, but also made sure that we were successful individuals who lived with passion, lived morally, and strived high.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? The more I became aware of my values and passions, I felt like becoming a physician would be a good fit. To be honest, volunteering, shadowing, and interning at the hospital/ doctor’s office showed me that daily work life in the medical field wasn’t all that glamorous as people make it to be. But I think that’s another aspect that made me want to pursue this field even more. It was always important for me that my career would continue to prune me and shape me to be better person and if there’s anything I’ve learned thus far it’s that there’s always room for me to grow. For example, I have a heart to serve people, but being situated in an environment where sometimes there are difficult patients provides me with the opportunity to practice patience, love, and kindness when it may be the most difficult to show.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  I’m not sure yet but I absolutely love learning about the heart so I’ve thought about cardiothoracic surgery. I’ve also done research working with patients with hypothyroidism and I find it so fascinating that such a small region of your neck can create a whole bunch of complex problems in your body so endocrine surgery could also be an option. But who knows until I get there!

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  Meeting diverse group of patients and getting to know them has been an awesome experience during this journey.

6. What is your favorite book?  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  I have an irrational fear of birds… if I see a bird on the sidewalk in my path, I will cross the street and walk around it.

Mentorship 101 Part 1 – What Every Mentee Needs to Know

I will dare to make the claim that mentorship is the single most important thing in any human being’s life and hopefully I can shed some light on this assertion.  I must add a disclaimer that these are simply my opinions and observations on the matter but I’d love to hear thoughts from others.

Mentors.  We all have them and we all serve as them but very few of us really examine this in our lives.  Starting from birth, our parent(s) are invaluable mentors who shape our beliefs and environment but soon after we begin to form relationships with others.  Not long after that, the television and social media begin to influence us in ways we don’t even realize.  I always love and can attest to the statement “you show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”  Or even better, “you show me your friends and I will show you your future.”  This is so true but unfortunately too many people only realize this when it is too late.  I am not sure who coined the quote but I also find much truth in something I recently heard from Montell Jordan’s sermon; “If you want to know what lies down the road ahead, ask somebody who is on the way back.”

These are numbers 1-5 of  my personal suggestions on steps for mentees trying to develop a good mentor-mentee relationship.  I will post numbers 6-10 next week.

1.  SET YOUR GOALS: Understand what you are chasing in life.  This will set your standards and will be what determines whether you have succeeded or not.  Take a holistic approach at setting both short-term and long-term goals.  Some people are so fixated on their academics and career goals that they are still single late in life and regret passing up on Mr. or Miss Right.  Others become “too busy” for worship or their health.  It is important not to neglect certain areas in your life or you will never feel complete.  Realize that you must prioritize well but also multitask in order to be the one smiling at the end of the day.  Areas you may want to consider setting goals for are spiritual beliefs/faith, academics/career, spouse/family, finances, health, long-term friendships/networks.  It is important to understand how these areas intertwine as well.  Remember, you must allow “wise” people to counsel you while setting these goals but do not let anyone make these decisions for you.  Otherwise, you will be living someone else’s dream at your own expense.  You won’t find happiness there, I guarantee.  This is why I say set YOUR own goals, not goals for others.

2.  EXAMINE WHO IS MENTORING YOU NOW: Again, we all have mentors whether we realize it or not.  Furthermore, most of their influence is subliminal.  It is important that you quickly analyze who serves in these roles, remove and replace those areas where there are deficits before further harm is done.  Those who understand this principal will make something out of themselves while those who don’t will put themselves at a serious disadvantage.  Many of your friends should have similar goals.  It’s rare to find that chameleon in the group who can consistently party hardcore with the group and get involved in potentially harmful activities and still turn out successful at the end of the day.  Life doesn’t typically work that way.  Television and social media dominate our lives these days and it is a pet peeve of mine listening to people stating it does not influence today’s generation.  It saddens me to see that the once good (at least in my opinion) role models are being shunned and unapologetically replaced.  All of us 80’s babies remember shows like the Cosby’s, a Different World, Good Times, Family Matters, Full House, etc..  What happened to the two-parent, hardworking but still not perfect family?  It appears they were substituted for reality TV shows.  It used to be cool to want to be a doctor, police officer, lawyer, or hard working blue collared professional supporting your family but now-a-day people like Bill Cosby get stoned for speaking their mind in some arenas.  I was raised and influenced by mainstream hip hop myself but I won’t even get started on this topic.  I would only say that if someone tells you to buy a certain brand of clothing, do a particular dance, want to be like them, or treat others in a certain way (for good or bad) and you follow suit then they are most likely to some degree a mentor in your life.  It will be nice when there is again support for those actively trying to make positive changes in communities and it is okay to critique those who encourage negative actions.  I digress, but recommend you truthfully examine yourself and your surroundings.  Otherwise, you will be doing yourself a huge disservice.

3.  DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Research what it will take to reach your goals and have an idea of the mentor’s background.  Do not approach a mentor with an empty slate.  Come prepared.  Show them you have set goals and how you intend on reaching them but do not be inflexible in your plans.  Allow your mentors to point out how feasible things are and possibly alternative strategies.  If you want to become a medical doctor it’s good to have knowledge of the basics.  This doesn’t mean you should present your mentor with a master’s thesis on the world of medicine but have the understanding that med school is 4 years, residency is another 3+ years and then you may consider fellowship.  Be able to tell them your motive behind this career choice and be ready for their critique even if it is not what you want to hear.  A mentor will typically want to know what you expect from them.  Think this through before approaching them.

4.  SELECT WISELY: Find mentors who you can relate to but they don’t have to be exactly like you.  In fact, it is good to be diversified.  You may have to step out of your comfort zone a bit, but this is good.  Have older mentors who can tell you what will come later down the road and get you connected.  Have slightly older/matured mentors who recently experienced what you have and let you know it will all be okay.  Have peer mentors, who share your same experiences.  Do not neglect utilizing younger or even sometimes less experienced people as mentors since they may allow you to learn from their choices and innocence.  Simply watching a 2-year-old offers something to learn (such as contentment with simple things).  There is no golden mentor because we all have our short comings.  You will be terribly disappointed if you make an idol of a person.  Each mentor will have attributes to add to the person you want to become and limiting yourself to a particular type of person may keep you in a bubble.  Try to avoid pompous mentors as they may always make you feel as though you are beneath them.  I recall one of my mentors early on forcing me to stop calling him sir because he was afraid this would fill his head up and limit my growth.  I definitely see where he was coming from although each relationship should be handled differently.  I have great respect for him still but I am better able to regard him as a colleague and friend.  Use your discernment to see what motives your mentor.  Are they someone who will mentor you due to their passion for helping others or is there a financial or other self-fulfilling aim that is driving them?

5.  RESPECT: Your mentor likely has a full plate just as you do.  Most students and medical professionals are also dedicating a lot of their time to work and family.  Be respectful of their time.  Again this is why it is good to come to the table prepared with specific questions and updates.  Don’t be too intrusive into their personal life.  They will reveal information to you as they wish.  I would avoid asking specifically about their GPA, exam scores, salaries, or personal family matters.  Also, avoid sharing too many details about your conversation with too many others.  It is a small world and word can travel fast in the medical community.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard conversations med students discussed among one another shared with faculty and vice versa.  Another subcategory worth mentioning is being truthful and forthcoming if you want to maximize the benefits.  It may be embarrassing sharing some grades and scores but if you feel like it is worth mentioning to explain your situation then do not withhold or fabricate this important information.  This will will serve neither party any good in the end.

Okay, so I hope you understand my thought process so far and the importance of these aspects to develop a good mentor-mentee relationship.  Check back next week for numbers 6-10.

Congratulations to Megan! Premed of the Week

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Hello! I am a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a certificate in Global Health. During two years of my undergraduate studies, I was a Division I student-athlete as a walk-on of the women’s lightweight rowing team. This experience alone has taught me many lifelong applicable skills that I intend on carrying into my studies and career as a physician. Currently, I work part-time as a Nursing Assistant in the Rehabilitation division of a nursing home. Additionally, I work full-time as a research intern on plant virology in the #1 ranked Plant Pathology program. My research involves two projects, one working with transgenic lines of potatoes and the breakdown of resistance to PVY, and the second working with the 5’ Untranslated Region of Triticum Mosaic virus.

2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  I’d say that I have an admiration for many teachers all the way from grade school through college. I have always had close relationships to my many science teachers, but being well rounded in all aspects of education is important as well. The biggest impact that many teachers have had on me is that they have always believed in me. Being surrounded by great role models in the classroom has contributed to my goal driven and determined attitude, that has allowed me to set my mind on something and then accomplish it.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  I have always been fascinated by the math and sciences, along with growing up admiring my older sister, a registered nurse. My decision to follow a career in medicine began with volunteering at the hospital and further into shadowing physicians. I have juggled with the ideas of being a nurse, physical therapist, or physicians assistant, however I keep coming back to being a physician. My time spent in the OR with an orthopedic surgeon really solidified my desire to pursue a career in healthcare as a physician. I do believe my time spent figuring out exactly what aspect of healthcare I wanted to be a part of will help me appreciate and communicate better as a future physician. Furthermore, there was not a pinpoint time within my pre-med journey, but I know a compassionate physician is who I strive to be.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  Definitely leaning towards Surgery! My time shadowing in the OR was fascinating and sparked my interest! However, I am keeping an open mind and still very intrigued by Orthopedics, Pediatrics, and Family Medicine.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  One of the coolest experiences of my premedical journey was studying abroad in Thailand for 3 months in 2016. The immersion into a completely different culture and language taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Most of all it taught me to be cultural awareness and sensitivity, along with the importance of respecting all people’s beliefs and backgrounds. The coolest experience in a medical settings would definitely be my time spent in the OR observing total hip replacements, resetting broken bones, carpel tunnel release, ACL reconstruction, along with many arthroscopic surgeries. It was incredible to see so many people that had regained the ability to perform everyday tasks again pain free.

6. What is your favorite book?   When Breath Becomes Air

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  I am an avid adventure seeker and always looking for new adventures to try. A few of my most treasured life moments that most people do not know include sky diving, swimming with sharks and stingrays, pole vaulting, Black Belt in Karate, and a current Marathoner in training. Above all, I love enjoying life to the fullest and trying my hand at everything I can!

Tackling Pre-Med Battles 

Like many facets in life, a new academic year can be challenging. Being a pre-med can be frustrating, stressful, tiresome, and classes can be difficult. It’s quite easy for one to get discouraged and question whether this journey is for them. When questions of doubt arise, consult a professor, classmate, or tap into your support system to help uplift your spirits, we’ve all be there. I’ve had numerous occasions where I’ve broken down and felt that this journey is too daunting, but I took a moment to take a step back and reflect. Currently, I am preparing for my MCAT and trying to balance a million other things. Fortunately, I’ve been able to confide in a few people that I trust to give me honest and direct advice. These individuals consistently have been by my side and continue to support me through any tasks that I face. Similarly, I encourage each of you to find people who you can lean on when the battles get tough. You don’t have to tackle a challenge alone, getting perspectives and being able to filter good advice from others is important. As aspiring doctors, we will be called upon to make tough decisions, but communicating with your peers and colleagues will give you the drive and energy to come to a sound decision. Seek out a mentor through your university or through PreMed StAR! Find ways to grow both individually and professionally. As Lebron James always says, “Strive for greatness”. Good luck to each of you and I wish you all a successful academic year.  

On Call With an Orthopedic Surgery Resident

“Trauma team to the ER, Trauma team to the ER,” erupts a flat voice from the PA system. It’s a warm summer Saturday night in NYC, and for me that means more people outdoors finding new ways to break their bones. As a medical student, the first piece of advice my senior resident gave me on my trauma surgery rotation was to take my own pulse as soon as a trauma activation comes in. Running down to the trauma bay hysterically scares yourself, the staff, but more importantly, the patient. So, as soon as I hear the announcement, I stop checking post reduction X-rays on the distal radius fracture I just reduced, take a deep breath, and start heading down to the ER.

As I approach the trauma bay, the sheer number of people outside the curtains signals intense interest. I can make out a flurry of activity just beyond the curtains and hear the trauma surgery resident methodically going through the initial survey. I carefully walk past the onlookers and open up the curtains and find myself at the foot of the stretcher. “Are you ortho?!” I nod to the resident as I look at the patient, a thirty-something year old male lying on an orange backboard with a cervical collar around his neck. Quickly, I’m drawn to the obvious deformity at his left femur, and his right ankle was pointing at a grotesque angle with the bone almost poking out of the skin. “So this is a 34-year-old motorcycle versus car, helmeted, no loss of consciousness. Only injuries appear to be ortho-related.” Motorcyclists keep trauma and transplant surgeons in business, unfortunately. However, I could already tell that this guy, aside from his lower extremity injuries, is relatively lucky.

I quickly try to reassure him, “Hey, I’m Dr. Williams, one the orthopedic residents. I’m going to do a quick exam, okay?”

“It’s my FREAKIN’ legs, dude!” he shouts.

“Oh, he’s also drunk,” adds the trauma resident matter-of-factly. Things have calmed down a bit now that the patient is stable. “Where’s the rest of your team?”

“I’m the only one on tonight,” I answer. Taking solo call was nerve racking at first. Being the only ortho doctor in the whole hospital and having that responsibility felt suffocating the first few times. But gradually, confidence is gained and measured in spurts of successfully treated patients. After confirming he had no other obvious injuries, I tell the patient about his broken femur and fracture dislocation of his ankle. “Ted, we are going to have to X-ray your left leg because it’s probably broken, but your right ankle is fractured and dislocated. I am going to have to put it back in place right now.”

“WHAT?! Naw, naw, naw, man! Knock me out, PLEASE!”

“I can’t knock you out, but I will put some novocaine in your ankle to help numb it up. After I put your ankle back in place it will feel much better.”

He frantically nods and allows me to proceed. I gather all the equipment and splint materials. Then I enlist an ER intern and a nurse to give me a hand.

“OK, first I’m going to put a needle in your ankle to numb it up.”

“OW!” He flinches. I get in position and grab his deformed ankle gently. I ask the nurse and intern to grab his knee to help me relax his ankle.

“I’m going to do some quick pulling, and then put your leg in a splint up to your knee. This will hurt a bit, but I promise you that once I’m done you will feel a lot better.”

I quickly pull his foot outward and feel the broken bones grating. He moans loudly, but doesn’t scream, the intra-articular injection is taking the edge off. I then guide the ankle back to its proper place and feel it clunk back in, and his moaning abruptly stops. Next I put the splint on and he starts yelling at me once I start molding it. After five minutes, the ordeal is over, for both of us. His ankle, now back in proper alignment, is less painful, but I’m now sweating from all the force it took to hold it in place as the splint hardened.

With his ankle fracture dislocation and probable femur fracture, Ted and I will have a couple trips to the OR and several more days to get to know each other. My pager goes off as I explain the procedures he needs in order to walk again. I quickly glance at it as I talk –6YO GIRL ELBOW FRACTURE FALL FROM MONKEY BARS–it reads. Yep, it’s summer in the city and I’m on call for another 20 hours.

Ted, a little more sober now from all the pain, reaches out his hand and says simply, “Hey, Doc. Thanks.”

 

Written By Dr. Phil Williams

Image Credit: Pixabay

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund #PremedsForHouston

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Congratulations to Nicholas! Premed of the Week

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Nick and I’m from De Pere, Wisconsin. I recently graduated from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin with my bachelor’s degree in biology. I am currently applying to medical school (almost done with my secondaries – woohoo!) as I decided to take a gap year. I plan to spend my gap year working as a CNA/HUC at Waukesha Memorial Hospital in the inpatient oncology department, continuing work on my current ecology research project studying the effects of the invasive plant species, buckthorn, on aquatic ecosystems, volunteering in my community and showing physicians in departments I have yet to explore! When I’m not hitting the books or busy with my various commitments I enjoy being outdoors (hiking, boating, atving, hunting, etc.), looking at cars, and spending time with my family and friends.

2.  Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you?  My favorite teacher was easily my high school biology and anatomy teacher, Ashley Anthon. I always looked forward to attending her class because she made learning fun. However, I don’t believe the word easy is even in her vocabulary. She continually challenged us as students. At the time, the rigor of her courses was fairly overwhelming, but looking back I can say I am truly grateful for those challenges. She prepared me for the next phase of my life and helped me to develop skills that I will use for the rest of my life.

3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why?  I can’t say that I have always wanted to be a physician. However, at a young age I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to take care of others. After experiencing the deaths of all four of my grandparents and caring for each one of them in their final days, there was not a doubt in my mind that healthcare was where I was meant to be. My junior year of high school was when my dream of becoming a physician really began. My grandfather was in an ICU fighting a major Staph infection and I spent a lot of time with him. His doctor was one of the most kind and gentle people I have ever met. In addition, he knew of my interest in medicine so he took the time to explain his every move to me. He became my inspiration. However, even though I had this dream, due to fear of the unknown I took a detour. I began my college career as a nursing major, but I quickly learned that nursing wasn’t where I truly wanted to be. After my first semester of college, I changed my major to biology/pre-medicine and here I stand today. Lesson learned – if you have a dream and you’re willing to put in every ounce of effort to make it a reality, then go for it.

4. What area of medicine are you interested in?  My interest is currently in oncology. I’ve had an interest in this area for quite some time, as many people who are very close to me and my family have been affected by the awful disease we call cancer.

5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey?  The coolest experience I’ve had so far on my premedical journey was the opportunity to work through Global Brigades. Throughout the course of my involvement I have completed four medical missions, three to Nicaragua and one to Honduras. I have assisted in providing medical care to thousands of underserved rural civilians. I enjoyed every moment of the time I spent working through this organization, especially the two years I spent serving as president. I’ve created friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

6. What is your favorite book?  I have to say, some of my all time favorite books are those that I was forced to read in high school. That being said, my favorite book is hands down The Giver. I vividly remember my obsession with this book and how hard it was for me to not read beyond the assigned chapters.

7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know.  One thing interesting about me is the obsession I have with my cat. I was always a dog person until I got my own place and wanted an animal of my own. I knew I wouldn’t have time to take care of a dog, so I made a compromise and adopted my cat Kobi. He is a great companion and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. I may be a little biased, but I think he is the coolest cat out there.

 

Global Health: Medical Mission Vignette 

As a part of the Biomedicine program at Eastern Mennonite University, students take part in a cross-cultural trip during the summer after their first year. This part of the Biomedicine curriculum is unique and it is something that most students have never participated in before. Each student gets to travel to a destination of their choice and is able to observe the local’s way of approaching healthcare and the way society operates. In the past, students have traveled to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Belize. I chose to participate in ISL’s Global Health Program in Nicaragua for my emergent experience. I had the fortunate opportunity to set-up two different clinics in San Sebastián and San Isidro, both are located on the outskirts of Managua (the capital city). We provided basic triage, took vitals, and dispensed medication via the guidance of our team doctors who monitored each patient encounter. This was a tremendous learning experience, yet my heart was still heavy for many of the residents of these communities. I felt honored and privileged to be a part of this dynamic team, however, I came to the realization that many of these individuals will not receive medical attention again until the next group of students visits their community. Continuity of care is something that lacks in many underdeveloped countries, and although we are making a difference by providing free service, I have a long term commitment and vision to address this issue. As a future clinician, I plan to stay involved within global health and try to set-up clinics and provide medical supplies to individuals who lack access.

I highly recommend volunteering in a foreign country so that you grow in cultural competency and understand how different health care systems work (i.e. U.S. vs. Nicaragua). If you choose to embark on this type of journey, here are a few pointers to get the most out of your experience:

• Be prepared to interact with the locals and absorb and ruminate everything they tell you. They will help you see a side of the world you most probably have not witnessed.

• Stay with your group when you go sightseeing in your country of choice. Many organizations have built-in tourist activities within the itinerary, so enjoy but work hard at the same time.

• Keep an open mind and try different cuisines, there are many unique and traditional dishes that are quite delicious!

• Make sure you take preventive health measures by completing your vaccinations in advance, taking malaria pills, and look at the CDC’s website to learn what health measures need to be addressed because it is specific to each country. Also, don’t forget bug spray!

• Take all of the necessary documents (passport, visa, notebooks, etc) that will help you on your journey.

I really valued this part of the Biomedicine program and had a great time with my peers. We built friendships and relationships that will extend beyond my time in the program, and global health has become a newfound passion of mine. I felt very fortunate to take part and provide care within these communities, and also learn from experienced and exceptionally trained physicians. Please comment and share if you have ever volunteered or participated in a healthcare program in a different country.

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