Friday, February 11, 2011

From Rural Health to the JayDoc Clinic: A Pre-med's Journey

Auburn Weber,
Sr. Recruitment Coordinator,
Rural Health Education &
Services, KUMC

Part 1
KU School of Medicine Wichita is going to be a 4 year medical school.  This statement gave me the rush motivation I needed to think seriously about what I am going to be when I grow-up.  I decided to rekindle an old aspiration and begin my journey to become a physician. 
I already have a bachelor’s degree, but need at least 2 years of basic science courses to be prepared for medical school.  In the meantime, I wanted a little taste of what I might experience as a practicing doctor.  This is what led me to the Jaydoc Community Clinic.  In the coming weeks, I will be sharing with you, my experiences as a volunteer at the Jaydoc Community Clinic in Wichita.     
The Jaydoc Community Clinic (JCC) was founded and is operated by KU medical students.  It  is run in cooperation with the KUSM-W Department of Family and Community Medicine and Guadalupe Clinic and offers health care to uninsured and underinsured patients.  Each patient is checked in by an undergraduate pre-medical student volunteer from one of the area colleges and a medical student then performs a history and physical exam.  Finally, the medical student consults with the physician to determine a plan of care. 
Lesson 1: I have a new found respect for my new arch nemesis – the manual blood pressure cuff.
My first day at the JCC was incredibly overwhelming and exciting.  I showed up with a brand new stethoscope and lot of enthusiasm for learning! 
I went from being medically illiterate to learning how to do the following tasks: blood pressure check, urinalysis, blood sugar check, pulse, and respirations.  To most medical professionals these sorts of tasks are pretty standard and make up a typical day.  However, to a pre-medical student, these tasks were exciting and some were downright challenging.  It took several tries before I was able to come close to taking an accurate blood pressure reading.  I decided to purchase my own blood pressure cuff so I could practice at home.   Luckily my husband was a willing participant.
Lesson 2: Patient’s trust you to take good care of them the minute you shut the exam room door.
My attention was quickly drawn from learning tasks to actually spending time with a patient.  I was checking patients in, obtaining their vitals, and documenting their health concerns.  I was surprised with how supportive the patients were, encouraging me to take my time and learn.  I loved having this interaction with patients.  I had their trust and I did not want to let them down.
Lesson 3:  Being a physician is much more than just providing a thorough exam and a correct diagnosis.
I escorted the last patient of the day to the exam room.   The medical student and I learned a lot about this patient, along with his need for a critical medication that he could not afford.  As the volunteer physician entered the room, I realized that this case was different than what I seen earlier in the day.  The goal of the physician was to get this patient the necessary medication before the current supply ran out.  The physician wrote down the name and address of an organization that would be able to quickly help this patient get the necessary medication.  The physician said, “This organization will help you get your medicine.  They are really good about it.  They will take of care you.”
The last case of the day didn’t diagnose a new ailment or just provide a prescription refill.  It exemplified how important it is for physicians to be aware of resources that can help their patients get the care, or in this instance, the medication they need.  These resources are just one aspect of compassionate caring, but they will make all the difference in the world to the patients who need them most. 

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