Thursday, June 23, 2011

From Rural Health to the JayDoc Clinic: A Pre-Med’s Journey

Part 3
Why I Volunteer
I am not the kind of girl who likes to set an alarm for Saturday morning.  I am not the kind of girl who likes to set an alarm really any day of the week, but that is another story.  On the Saturdays I volunteer at the JayDoc Community Clinic (JCC) my alarm goes off at 7:00am.  I have come to affectionately call the Saturdays that I volunteer at the clinic my “JayDoc Saturdays.” Typically, the piercing noise coming from my alarm clock ranks right up there with nails on a chalkboard, but on JayDoc Saturdays things are different.  They’re different because on JayDoc Saturdays I am up before the alarm even has the chance to go off.  I am merrily bouncing all around my house getting ready for my day at the clinic.  I am excited about what my day potentially holds for me.  Questions race through my mind as I prepare for a day at the clinic.  What kind of patients will I have today?  What am I going to learn?  Will I be able to work the blood pressure cuff correctly?  Is someone bringing breakfast?  At this point, I need some answers and most likely some breakfast too.

On JayDoc Saturdays, I simply cannot wait to get to the clinic!  I just completed the spring semester at JCC and was given the opportunity to join the clinic for the fall semester as well.  Something about the JayDoc Clinic just keeps me coming back for more.  Why am I continuing to volunteer at JCC when I could clearly be sleeping in?  I have attempted to provide a few reasons for my choice to continue volunteering below.

Reason #1
You know the game shows where your prize is based on which door you choose?  You can choose door #1 and you know what that prize is, it’s a sure thing, done deal, no risk.  Then there is door #2 and you have no clue what is behind that door.  If you are feeling lucky, you can choose door #2 and hope for the best.  Well, I found that patients are always like choosing door #2.  As I bring back each patient to the exam room, I have no idea what is in store for me once I close the door. This could be a quick open and shut case or I could spend all day trying to assist this patient.  Once I get the patients in the exam room they have been known to laugh, cry, cough, gag, and/or watch me fall off my rolling chair (true story).  Do I feel completely prepared to handle the patients’ diverse needs?  – Not really.  I think this feeling of preparation is something that comes from experience and I will feel more prepared as time goes on.  For right now, when that exam room door closes what happens next is always a surprise, and I am going to be honest – it gives me an adrenaline rush.

Reason #2
I am a part of the patient care team on JayDoc Saturdays.  What I do and how I do it matters to these patients and to the success of the team.   The vitals I record and the information I obtain from the patient helps prepare the medical student to formulate a game plan and minimize “door #2 syndrome.”  

Being an active member of this team requires a lot of learning on my part and a lot of teaching on the part of the medical students, residents, and physicians.  During my most recent JayDoc Saturday, I learned the what and the how behind SOAP notes (subjective, objective, assessment, plan) and even got to deliver ¾ of a SOAP note to the attending resident physician.  I received a crash course on the different stages of hypertension and learned all about the devastating effects of high blood pressure on the human body.  This all occurred over the course of an hour.  I am so appreciative of the people I volunteer with at JCC.  They are incredibly supportive and always willing (and excited) to answer any question I may have.   My time at JCC has provided me with an invaluable learning opportunity.  I am very fortunate to have learned so much from the JCC volunteers and I look forward to what I will learn in the future. 

Reason #3  
Volunteering at the JayDoc Community Clinic is a truly humbling experience.  When my life gets stressful, school gets tough, and work is overwhelming, I come to JayDoc and I am immediately reminded of why I want to be a physician.  Suddenly, the path I have chosen for myself feels easier.  I feel energized and ready to continue my journey to becoming a physician.

Is that Flat Jaydoc?
Why sleep in when I could be volunteering at the JayDoc Community Clinic?  My enthusiasm for being a part of JayDoc Saturdays keeps me from having to hear the awful noise that emanates from my alarm clock in the morning.  I also save money because the adrenaline rush I get from being at the clinic allows me to work all day without caffeine.  From where I stand, my time at the clinic is truly a win-win situation.

-Auburn Weber, Rural Health Education and Services, University of Kansas Medical Center

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