Coming out of my first year of medical school I struggled with my sense of confidence. After endless nights of studying, a multitude of experiences at our Clinical Training and Assessment Center, and specialized clinical experiences, I felt that I could take on the challenge of counseling patients. On the other hand, when I thought about being on my own to take care of patients, I was terrified. My pharmacology knowledge was insufficient, and even though I knew how to conduct a full physical exam, did I really know what was normal compared to abnormal? These questions proved to me that I lacked the clinical experience necessary to become a good physician.
When I heard of the opportunity to apply for the Leroy Rogers Preceptorship, I immediately knew that it could help bridge the gap between my medical textbooks and clinical knowledge. This program gives preclinical students the opportunity to choose a preceptor for a four week, hands-on family medicine clinical experience. I had shadowed a family physician, Dr. Andrews, in my hometown several times before so I knew he would be the perfect preceptor. I also felt that I would learn from his patients, especially because many are medically underserved.Read More »
Take two Tootsie Rolls and call me in the morning. Self-prescribed for sweet tooth me. Not such a blasphemous “drug of choice” (I’m not even using caffeine!) but it’s New Year’s, that infamous time of resolutions. And I’d like to “kick the habit,” do all that stuff the nutritionist advised and ramp up the gym visits. Jogged 2 miles and took a 1/2 mile swim today to start the new year “right” – hopefully burned off the chocolate high. Fueled by endorphins and feeling oh so optimistic, I’m writing this blog. The question is – what happens on January 2?
The ongoing effort to implement and sustain behavior change has given me a profound appreciation for some of the struggles our patients (and even our colleagues and students) endure. Harnessing motivation can be tough and self-flagellation for not following through can make it tougher . . . this is where some self-compassion with an attitude of kindness and acceptance toward ourselves may make a difference (1). Self-compassion can promote self-improvement motivation given that it encourages us to confront mistakes or weaknesses without either self-deprecation or defensive self-enhancement. (2) According to Breines and Chen, “resolving to make changes can be scary, as roadblocks and setbacks are inevitable along the way. From a self-compassionate perspective, however, there is less to fear.” (2)
As a Jesuit, Catholic medical school, we have had several preparations for Christmas that may not be as “front-and-center” in other institutions. These traditions are deeply engrained in our culture and expected by our students. With the flurry of academic activity in the final weeks of the semester, the true miracle of Christmas might lie in the simple fact that anyone shows up to spend time together at all. In the busy-ness, we pause, but what exactly is it that we are trying to remember about ourselves, the community, the world? Read More »
On August 19, 2017, I offered the keynote address at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Class of 2021 White Coat Ceremony. It was an honor to address this class, my first as dean. I had welcomed the students during orientation when they were absorbing a great deal—rules, responsibilities, schedules, safety, organization– and met with them during discussions of a book we all read recounting the rich, complex career of pediatrician– events when they were in a focused, serious mood. This day, however, the student’s were with their families and excited, bolstered by well-deserved pride, and filled with the shared mission of improving the world through the practice of medicine. Below are the thoughts I shared in my address to the class as they began their formal training as first-year medical students… Read More »
“You’re making a terrible decision.” The surgical fellow was on a rant. I stood silently for some thirty minutes trying to maintain my composure as he criticized my decision to apply for a pediatrics residency. This memorable event occurred during my surgical rotation, and yes, during a surgery. Apparently, in this fellow’s view, the biggest problem with pediatrics is that it is a team-based field. When people work as a team, he insisted, everyone “needs to have their own say and nothing gets done.” Instead, he argued for a more directive approach – say what needs to be done and that’s it. End of story, no questions asked…
Almost ten years ago, I wrote a story about my experience navigating the healthcare system as a young woman with a myelomeningocele baby. It was a story about “forgiveness” because my baby was two-months old before his back was closed, his brain shunted, and his prolapsed rectum repaired. It was a system failure. Now, I would like to talk about how different medical encounters can be when a person with a disability is an adult rather than a pediatric patient… Read More »
I recently presented a workshop on the assessment of professionalism at the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) conference. I planned to discuss the elements of assessment: developing a framework to define professionalism, discussing successful assessment practices and reviewing the various tools available to assess professionalism.1 Much to my surprise, the discussion quickly moved into deeper inquiry on student participation, perceptions, and self-identity through the use of peer evaluations on professionalism… Read More »