As medical students we are often made to feel like an annoyance to everyone: the attending who can’t be bothered to teach yet another new batch of newbies, the nurse who wishes we would get out of their way so he/she can do their job, the resident who is post call and just wants a bed, and yes, even sometimes the patient who at times view us as yet another person who will do the same thing to them that 3 other people had already done that day. However, after having heard the stories and discussed with fellow colleagues at the camp today, I realize that I should not let anyone make me feel like a hassle. I should take ownership of my assigned patient and do my absolute best to help them. I need to not be kept in the sidelines, but to be in the trenches with the patient and to advocate for them as hard as I can even when others in the care team gloss over the issues.
Often medical students are seen as an extra appendage to the team, with or without which the team would function perfectly well. But after hearing the heart breaking stories about patients who wanted to be heard, and everyone in the health care system was ignoring them, I want to be their voice within the team and even within the system. For both, now as a medical student and later on in my career, these stories have really opened my eyes to how so many of us narrow down the patient to a principle diagnosis and forget to see the patient as a whole. I refuse to do that any more after hearing the devastating consequences.
For me, I feel like this camp has come at a perfect time where I’m still very early on in my clinical experiences and therefore still malleable to change and to implementing all the alterations I know we must do to improve our health care provision. It has only been one day but my perspective on patient care has completely been shifted. I understand now what this phrase ‘patient-centered care’ which doctors always use to sound sophisticated really means. It took listening to the family members of patients harmed by us to help me really see the world from a patient’s perspective. I hope I will forever carry that with me, and use it to improve my practice each and every day.