The Importance of Patient Contact

Adrusht Madapoosi writes on the importance of patient contact as a pre-med student. 

Ever since high school, I had this dream of becoming a physician. I didn’t really know much as a high school student, so before applying to college, I participated in a lot of diverse programs. I took an “anatomy and physiology” class my junior year, excelled in it, which pretty much was one of the reasons I decided that medicine was for me. My father is a physician and set me up in a neuroscience laboratory, which made me decide that I wanted to pursue a major in neuroscience.

 

Ever since I received my acceptance letter from the University of Pittsburgh, I had a dream that I would attend as a pre-medicine student for one of the most prestigious neuroscience programs in the country. I naively thought it would be a very unique road to follow, but little did I know that I would be joining almost two-thousand other pre-medicine students from my freshman class, almost seventy percent of them of whom would also be majoring in one of the natural sciences. Time progressed and I completed the prerequisites and began my neuroscience courses over the first two years. I joined pre-med clubs, tutored, and volunteered in hospitals, but it was not as fulfilling as I had expected. I was craving experience, something that I was unable to have trapped in a lecture hall with 300 other students.

 

Before my junior year I took a shot in the dark and became an EMT. It was an experience unlike anything I had been involved in before. Clinical shifts gave me the medical experience that I had been searching for all this time; it also opened my eyes to the world of medicine that isn’t covered in college. I recently became a paramedic (I will talk about my medical escapades in a future post) adding emergency medicine as another major alongside neuroscience. Over 2 semesters, working over six hundred hours treating over two-fifty patients showed me how underprepared pre-med students are for the real world, and I don’t mean from a scientific or clinical perspective.

 

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As a medic, you’re thrown into many random scenarios with different types of people on every call. I never appreciated the beauty of talking to people until I was actually on a non-emergent call, a transport if you will. My patient was an older woman who was being transferred to a nursing home after being hospitalized for a while. She was very quiet as I took her vitals, and did not say much as I did a quick assessment to make sure her condition was the same. The transport time was about forty-five minutes; the first three minutes taken up by assessment and vitals, and the next five were awkward silence. I decided to fill out some paperwork awhile, get some demographic information. We started idle conversation and seconds turned into minutes and all of a sudden, we were at the receiving facility. I learned that this old lady was actually an old civic rights activist in the Fifties and Sixties. She told me about how she was once at a rally and was accidentally involved in an explosion, which blew off part of her face, causing her to turn to painkillers, and eventually illicit substances as a means of controlling her pain. She told me that she’s been clean now for eighteen years, but her body has been plagued by a plethora of other ailments, causing her to be in and out of the hospital.

 

As we arrived at the hospital, she looked at me with teary eyes and thanked me for listening, as no one in recent years had even given her a chance to tell them her story. Look, the point of this is that medicine is not all about science. As a healthcare professional, you’re given the unique privilege of meeting many different types of people; the problem in our society is that many people entering medical school/PA school/etc. are unaware/not accustomed to this. So take this as my first piece of advice to you as future docs and go out and talk to people, get their side of the story. You’ll never know what you learn.

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Adrusht Madapoosi

Is a contributor to The Almost Doctor’s Channel.