Connections, curiosity and gifts

So I’ve been in medical school for less than a month, and so far, I have signed up to become a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, American Medical Student Association, the wellness committee, a number of specialty interest groups including emergency medicine, surgery, ob/gyn, family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, Spanish Club, Journal Club, intramural tennis club, AND I think I am leaving something out—oh yes, a student blogger! I’m also in the midst of co-starting an integrative medicine specialty interest group since I didn’t sign up for enough to begin with (and of course because of my interest in integrative and complementary/alternative medicine). I suppose you can say that I am one of the very enthusiastic members of the second class here at USC School of Medicine Greenville. One of the reasons that I chose to come here was the plethora of clinical experiences and activities that comprise the first two years of the curriculum. I will briefly touch on our very first days.

Today we had our first lab day, outside of the classroom. We learned and practiced how we will lift and move patients once we begin our EMT shifts (okay, not the MOST exciting part of our EMT course, see photo below, but hey, definitely beats sitting in a lecture). Needless to say, after nearly dropping one of my new classmates down a flight of stairs (but I didn’t thanks to my spotter!), I feel that I already have a deeper appreciation for the work of EMTs and paramedics.

I thought that my past experiences of volunteering in the ED of a Level I Trauma Center in San Francisco would prepare me for the EMT coursework that is part of our Medicine & Society class, and in ways I think it has, but there are also some ways that it has not. As a few of our EMT instructors reminded us today, when the patient comes into the ED or when you see them in the hospital after they are admitted, they are already packaged up. As an EMT, you literally are able to see where the patient is coming from and what they just went through—and by not only doing your job, but by doing it in a mindful and compassionate way, you have the ability to maybe lighten their load a little, whether that means to distract them from whatever is causing them pain or to just listen if they want to talk—to let them know that someone is there to help. And I think that this is a gift.

 Although I have much more knowledge to gain before going out on my first EMT run (and probably some specialty interest groups to cut down), I think that it is a safe bet to say that this EMT experience in my first two years of medical school will always serve as a reminder to never make assumptions about my future patients and to fully appreciate the many talents and skills of all members of the health care team.

To conclude my first post, I will leave you with a quote from the Iranian-born writer, Azar Nafisi, that I feel is appropriate to the smattering of classes that we’ve had so far that have touched on ethics, cultural competence, upcoming changes in the American health care system, and even the practicalities and complexities of getting an injured patient from point A to point B:

“This experience in my life reinforces my belief in the mysterious connections that link individuals to each other despite their vast differences…Only curiosity about the fate of others, the ability to put ourselves in their shoes, and the will to enter their world through the magic of imagination, creates this shock of recognition. Without this empathy there can be no genuine dialogue, and we as individuals and nations will remain isolated and alien, segregated and fragmented.”



Rachel Heidt


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  • George Maynard - 5 years ago


    This is terrific. Love the wonderful writing ability and great quote at the end. My wife and I truly believe in the interconnectedness of in the universe and through the Universe of the Divine Spark.

    Sign me up!! George

  • William M. Evans - 5 years ago

    Rachel, I think we met recently, I was Principal of Beaufort HS in 2002-03 and of course had a very good relationship with Dr. Durbin after I left.
    The coincidental thing about reading your blog is that my stepdaughter, Jenna Hislop also graduated BHS (2003) and went to NYU (2007) and is now in her second year at MUSC as a med student. I thought that was awfully coincidental and that you two might want to contact each other sometime. She will be home at Thanksgiving and you can reach me through email. Congratulations on your scholarship and the fantastic journey that you have been on. I wish you the very best.