Like many aspiring physicians across the country, I came into medical school with high expectations for the quality of care I wanted to give my future patients. I envisioned bringing a patient back from the edge of death in the trauma bay or performing life-saving surgery on a young child with cancer. I would do it all with a smile on my face and an open heart – yearning to love people relentlessly and sacrifice a bit of myself for patients in desperate need of care. Now, in my last year of medical school, this vision of myself in medicine still persists, yet has been tested regularly.
As part of their educational training, students at the USC School of Medicine Greenville experience encounters with standardized patients, or trained individuals who portray the roles of patients or family members. Students are able to develop and practice communication and physical exam skills, as well as foster a greater understanding of the importance of the “big picture” of a patient’s medical history. Below is a thank you note from M2 Anna Tarasidis for the many wonderful standardized patients that have been an integral part of our students’ education. The Standardized Patient Program is a service of the Greenville HealthCare Simulation Center.
One of my favorite aspects of attending the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville (USCSOMG) consists of riding with medics on ambulances once a month, a required part of our preclinical curriculum. As I plan on pursuing an Emergency Medicine residency, this unique part of our training affords me the unique opportunity to visit patients in their home environment, a facet of their lives that most physicians, and healthcare providers, are never made privy to.
It is a privilege to wear a white coat. It is a universal sign of care and the advocacy of total wellness. The receipt of my white coat was, undoubtedly, an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. However, I had no idea that those feelings could be rivaled, let alone beat. This happened for the first time in the hospital when the emotions I experienced after wearing my white coat left an unparalleled mark on my heart. The trust that other medical professionals had in my intent was evident as my path and aim was never questioned. The assurance patients and their family members had in me was awe-inspiring and propelled me to use poetry as the paintbrush to illustrate a portrait of my experience.
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To be present – what does it mean? How do we arrive to it? How do we yield it as a necessary tool in our future practice?
We find comfort in the things we can control, bury ourselves in the the areas that we feel competent in, garnering false strength and validations that serve to fuel us. We focus more on getting things checked off our list and being a well-oiled machine than being present – all mind, body, and soul dedicated in a moment which is fleeting and unrecoverable.
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I had family in town recently and beyond the usual great time we always have together, we ate… a LOT. We ate so much that I felt uncomfortably stuffed on several occasions- the kind of stuffed where you are glad you are wearing some stretchy pants or a loose fitting dress. I would be offered a dessert and say I am beyond full and decline, only to grab a plate five minutes later.
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As many of my peers intimately know, applying to medical school is–to put it incredibly lightly–very difficult. More accurately, the application cycle is an extremely strenuous, frustrating, and expensive process which offers essentially no immediate rewards and only a nightmarishly slight chance of success. Even excluding the equally difficult MCAT and requisite four years of resume building, lab work, and clinical volunteering, acceptance into medical school is not something to take for granted. Two years ago, knowing all this, freshly graduated from college and with the long sought-after letter of miraculous acceptance in hand, I decided to not attend medical school.
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A few months ago, my wife and I decided to try out a new dinner location we had heard about in downtown Greenville. This place had received glowing reviews from many of our friends for its delicious food, relaxing ambiance, and spectacular views of the city. Believe me when I say, we weren’t disappointed.
About three months ago, I got a call that changed my world. My mom was taken to the hospital with a heart rate pushing 200… crazy high! She spent the day seeing different specialists, and it was determined she had atrial fibrillation. After seeing a cardiac electrophysiologist, it was determined she should have a cardiac ablation procedure. As far as surgery goes, cardiac ablation is a relatively simple procedure. My mom had no other major health conditions, and all signs pointed to a quick hospital stay with a very fast recovery. However, my mom is not always the best when it comes to doctors (sorry to throw you under the bus), and she was more than a little nervous. I told her that if she could get the surgery scheduled for my spring break, I would fly back home to go to the hospital with her.
Fashion photographer Rick Guidotti used to look through the lens of his camera every day, capturing the beauty of high fashion models. His standards were prescribed for him; conventional beauty standards for the types of bodies and faces allowed to grace the covers of Elle magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Until one day Rick decided to go off-label.