Hehe. Now you know I’m a little biased on this one, as I’m a teacher.
But honestly, my teachers had a profound influence on me.
I showed up at medical school only knowing that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help people. I didn’t have a very clear concept of what that would look like. I didn’t know any doctors or have any role models. I just knew that I had a family member who had been to the doctor a lot when I was growing up. We were always waiting on what the doctor would say or do or recommend and the physician and surgeons actions impacted our lives significantly. All I knew was that I wanted to help.
When I showed up at medical school, I happened to go to a school that was just starting a Student-run Free Clinic out of the basement of a church. Little did I know this would change the course of my life forever.
My teacher, my mentor, my faculty member worked with the university to get approval for us to legally provide care to homeless patients in the basement of a church.
We set up a curtain to divide the laundry room. Half of the room was for administration and half was for patient care. We treated hypertension and simple infections. We had very little. But we cared. That made all the difference. We listened. We sat and listened to individuals affected by homelessness. Our patients rarely had the opportunity to speak and be heard, to be treated with dignity and respect. We forged friendships. Our “transients” it turned out were not all that transient and would return week after week, month after month, and year after year.
My mentor taught me to think outside the box. She taught me to listen and to treat all people with respect. She taught me that underserved medicine is not poverty medicine and that all people are entitled to the same quality of care, despite their ability to pay. She showed me that where there is a will there is a way.
One hundred percent I am who I am today because of her. I became a physician in the basement of that church. I later became a faculty member, course director, and eventually a full professor in the basement of the same church, in the same toddler chairs.
She is just one of many who made me who I am today.
(The next blog post will include what I learned from some other influential teachers on my journey)