Well I have officially finished my first year of medical school. Still waiting for grades to come out but nonetheless I am finished. I would like to thank all of my family and friends here and home who have supported me. As I now sit back and enjoy my study free day, I reflect back on my first two semesters of medical school.
I have sat through hundreds of hours of lectures, countless more hours in the labs and an unimaginable number of hours studying, but throughout it all four hours in particular stand out. In the middle of second semester, I had the opportunity to volunteer my time at a pediatric clinic in a small village called Massacre.
Yes, that is the actual name of the village. Apparently back in the 1800’s the locals tried to revolt against the British. Well the British didn't care too much for that, so they killed everyone. So in honor of the event the village is called Massacre. It has a French pronunciation so it doesn't sound so morbid.
My experience with helping at the Massacre Primary School Clinic was nothing short of amazing. So too often, we as medical students get too wrapped up in exams and labs we forget why most of us wanted to become physicians in the first place. This excellent opportunity gave me a tangible reminder why I spend countless hours a day in my books. As a second semester student, we have only just begun to see what it truly takes to be a physician.
Going into this experience I was nervous I wouldn't know what to do or what to say to the patients or what questions I should be asking. However, after I got to the clinic they were already busy, and I was asked to help out as soon as I stepped off the bus.
As my first patient sat down with her child, I politely introduced myself and began with taking my first real patient history. As I talked with her about why she had brought in her child, I began stumbling over my words. She laughed and smiled at me. It was then I realized it didn't matter if I stumbled over my words or had to keep pausing to think about what questions I needed to ask; she was happy I was there taking an interest in her child’s health. This eased my nervousness, and I began to feel more confident.
As the day progressed I became more comfortable with interacting with the patients. It was exciting to be able to answer their questions and be able to reference material I have learned in class and be able to explain something as simple as allergies to someone who has never heard of them. The most memorable part of the day was simply my interactions with the kids. It was such a remarkable feeling to bring a smile to these kids' faces and make them feel like going to see the doctor doesn't have to be scary.
This was my first experience with any type of rural medicine, and I was shocked to learn how many of them had never visited a doctor or haven't in years. Coming from a place where, for the most part, if you are sick you go to see the doctor, this was definitely a humbling experience and made my time there feel much more enlightening.
My experience at the clinic showed me there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It showed me the material we learn in the classroom does have real world implications and as physicians we will use most of it every day in our practices. Having this opportunity to be able to make a difference in a child’s life, no matter how small, has strengthened my purpose for becoming a physician.