My First Real Patient Evaluation:
Ever wondered how doctors learn to treat and interact with patients? I can tell you it does not come naturally to many, myself included.
First year of medical school goes by and all you have truly done is interact with Standardized patients, which are basically paid actors who portray a particular symptomatology and history. During this year they teach us how to talk to the patient and to get comfortable asking any type of question, sensitive or not.
Don’t get me wrong, we do see real patients during community health fairs, but it is not necessarily in a medical setting, as most of those people are relatively healthy. We also get the opportunity to go visit a primary care physician’s office and “shadow” them or other students. Here you can see “real” patients but you cannot interact not one on one, which is what we all aspire to.
Second year takes off with Introduction to Clinical Skills, the course that basically teaches you how to perform a physical examination and more interaction with Standardized patients. First semester ends with the OSCE which is nothing other than an examination in which we are evaluated on how we interact, interview, and examine a Standardized patient. This experience can be pretty nerve-racking but once you get through it, it feels great and you are basically grinning like an idiot waiting for the day when you see a real patient in the hospital.
This brings me to second semester of second year. It brings on new experiences and finally the chance to see my first patient. We were divided in 3 big groups and assigned a resident or attending and given a time period to schedule our visit. I went on the 27th of January.
My group got assigned a pediatric patient first, this means a child 1-4 years old (also known as a toddler). I got the chance to go to the hospital and interview a patient that was hospitalized and then present the case and write a report.
I was so nervous and excited, even though I am not the biggest pediatrics fan. One patient had been discharged and we were a group of 3 students so I got to have a partner, yay me (*insert sarcasm here). We got assigned the most difficult/complicated case so we did the best we could to gather all the necessary information to present our case.
In the end, it was an amazing experience. Being in the hospital, surrounded by other medical students, residents, nurses, and attending was very thrilling and it made everything we are working very hard for seem real and attainable.
So far, I don’t think I will be developing a love for pediatrics, but I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to interact with a great patient and mother, as well as the team and staff caring for the child. I can assure you, I will never forget this experience.
Have you had any career shaping experiences that reassured you you were on the right path?
Thanks for reading!