June 12, 2016…The day my journey began as an MS-3. My first rotation as a junior medical student: family medicine, Location: Community Health Network Family Clinic in Lawrence Township, Indiana. The night before I was set to start, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. The last two years I spent studying notes, attending/watching lectures, and mastering theory; now, it was all real…true patient care. More than anything, I think I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect; I didn’t know what I was supposed to do in clinic, I didn’t know the electronic medical record software, and most importantly, I didn’t know the attendings or the clinic support staff….I Only got 4 hours of sleep that night as I reviewed and re-reviwed my clerkship objectives, expectations, and did a rapid review of my H&P card.
The next morning, a nice sunny summer Thursday I showed up to clinic, nice purple shirt with purple stripe tie, my Maxwell quick review in one pocket, and my brand new Littmann Master of Cardiology IV stethoscope. Heck, I looked so sharp, if anyone in the streets would have seen me, I could have passed as a big time chief medical officer hehehe. As soon as I stepped into the clinic, nervous and all, I remember what a lot of my mentors in the past told me…”fake till you make it”. Hence, with upright posture, chest pumped out, I introduced myself to the attenginds and staff as the new MS-3 medical student on board. Everyone was so nice and welcoming that I soon felt at ease and was able to establish good rapport. I have always believed in being humble, working hard, giving nothing but the best, and no matter, if you don’t know something, always asked for help politely! Never be afraid to ask for help! You must know your strengths and weaknesses.
I was assigned two preceptors, Dr. Christopher Arata and Dr. Danielle Watkins, two amazing family medicine physicians. They showed me my work cubicle and what would be expected of me as well as daily schedules and procedures. Next up was seeing my first patient. I quickly glanced at the EMR and reviewed their last visit, clinic and physician note, as well as the reason for their visit today. In my mind I was already forming a differential diagnosis based on age, sex, gender, past medical history, and current chief complain. I finally connected the dots between our Intro to Clinic Medicine class and the last two years worth of classes. I felt our Physical Diagnosis class had prepared me really well for this moment. And not only that, this was the moment I had worked so hard for, the moment I had lost sleep, hair, and sacrificed so much for!
I took a deep breath, scrubbed my hands and knocked on the door before entering the room…my heart was pounding! To my surprise, as soon as In introduced myself to my patient, everything else just flew on smoothly. I have always been able to connect with my patients very quickly as establishing rapport with them is vital as I have come to learn. Subsequently, I conducted my HPI, H&P and Review of System as well as physical exam smoothly. As I reflect back now, I am not surprised how well I was able to conduct my interview and physical exams. IU Med had prepared me too well. I can now understand why our curriculum is so rigorous and demanding…it made me a well rounded and prepared MS-3.
The fallowing days and weeks went great. Every day I saw myself progressing more, both forming my differential diagnosis as well interviewing my patient and conducting my physical exam. The more patients I saw, the more confident I got. In addition, I had my bible with me, The First Aid 2016. After coming out of each exam room and formulating a differential diagnosis, I would return to my bible to re-review different pathologies and diagnosis to make sure I was on the right track. Then I would present my patient to my preceptors in the format of a SOAP note. With time I got so good at it that it not only became second nature to me, but I was also seeing 15-20 patients a day by my third week on the service. In addition, by the third week on the service I also came to learn that family medicine is a great field as it truly represents what a traditional doctor is, a healer.
In fact, I quickly realized what family medicine is all about: to provide comprehensive, continuous healthcare to all members of the family throughout the course of their lives. They care for patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly, men and women, and all medical problems as I experienced in my clinical site. Furthermore, what I liked about this rotation and family medicine in general is that the specialty integrates biological, clinical and behavioral sciences. I also learned that by building relationships based on communication and respect, we can gain a deeper understanding of the whole person, including the range of physical, emotional, and socioeconomic factors that influence a person’s health status.
At the conclusion of my clerkship, I finished by meeting with a local family who struggled with medical care for their two autistic children. I chose to do my family medicine community project with them because a couple of days earlier, my cousin’s daughter had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. My goal with the project was to first learn more about autism: its etiology, it’s pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, and finally, medical treatment and care. Subsequently, the family opened the door of their home to me; I was able to see first hand how they struggled to not only care for their children but I was also able to see how hard it was for them to find adequate, specialized care. I then hit the internet to look for community resources for this special family. I also met with local social workers, public health specialists, and two policy makers to discuss my family’s problems and find solutions to their barriers in caring for their children. Overall, it was an amazing experience that will never forget. This story touched me because in a way it hit home and I really wanted to make a difference. In fact, this is why I decided to become a doctor: I wanted to touch peoples’ lives and not only make a difference in their health care, but give them a new life.
Today, I am grateful to IU Med, to Community Health Network, to Dr. Watkins and Dr. Arata, and last but not least, to all of the clinical staff at Fall Creek Medical Center. Every one I encountered during this rotation helped shape my persona and equipped me with medical knowledge, skills, and most importantly, helped to further develop my people skills so that I can always establish great report with my patients.
I am truly blessed and honored!…on next: Psychiatry…mama mia!