Wow, what an enriching summer experience for a small group of LIFE students who, thanks to Carol Allbaugh and the Valenzuela Foundation, had a rare chance to dive into women’s health over the summer break. Just six students were carefully selected for group and individual observation in ultra sound, OR nursing, medical research, physician assisting, and other clinical areas. We wanted to prepare them to be good listeners and observers so the students underwent HIPAA, patient privacy, professional etiquette, and other trainings. All of the students are required to journal their insights as part of LIFE. One young lady, Rachel Brundage was struck by the power of empathy and shared her insight:
“On the second day of my internship, at the Mommy and Me Clinic, the medical assistant (MA) I was shadowing was a great example of empathy. After the main provider determined nothing was wrong with the patient, the patient’s mother continued to persist something was wrong. The mother was upset because she felt as though the healthcare system was failing them, and that no one cared. The MA listened, agreed, apologized, and said she understood why the mother was upset, as the MA’s own mother experienced something similar. Then, she spoke with the provider about rechecking the patient, and because of this, the provider eventually signed off on a referral.
This quality (empathy) stood out to me because not only did it make the patient calmer, it also pushed the MA to fight for [her]. Being empathetic also allowed for the problem-solving between the patient, provider, and the MA and as the ‘middle man.’ I witnessed great communication skills that are extremely important in the healthcare field. Without the harmony of empathy and communication, no issues would have been worked out, and the patient would have left unsatisfied and disappointed in the care provided at the clinic.
I will begin to develop this quality by making the effort to be more understanding along with working on my listening skills.”
Rachel's LIFE experience has also helped her decide between the three health careers she was interested in (Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, and Medical Doctor) and she felt fortunate to observe all three! "Speaking with female MDs helped me get past the idea in my head that if I become a doctor I will have to give up on having a strong home life or having children because of the demanding hours. The female doctors I spoke with broke this stigma for me, as many of them have children and said they felt as though they are still wonderful mothers. This inspired me to think more about pursuing medical school, as that was a big reason why I was slightly opposed to it. Overall, the health professionals I got the chance to work with have motivated me to continue seeking a career in this field."
Last week Rachel, her five cohorts, family, and friends celebrated the end of the program with an award dinner at Reach Out. Our surprise guests were three board members from the Valenzuela Foundation. As the students shared their experiences, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Everyone was moved by the impact this experience had on both students and hosts alike. In the end, they learned far more during this on-site experience than we could have ever taught them in the traditional sence, and sparked their passion for healthcare.