We are given tools to imitate their behavior, in hopes that we ourselves will one day embody that behavior. Mechanical checkboxes on the standardized exam with standardized patients. Cannot forget a single step. But life is not standardized, is it?
Growing up, I wanted to be an actress. It amazed me how actors could make a story seem so real and how easily I would fall in love with characters I’d known for only 90 minutes. Most of the kids in my neighborhood would play outside together, but I always wanted to stay home and watch my favorite movie, Shutter Island.
I could feel my right lower leg starting to bend. And bend. And bend for an eternity before I finally hit the turf. Then, my only view through the bars of my helmet were the Friday night lights against the Friday night sky.
She asks me if I can speak Spanish, to which I regrettably deny, stating I can understand it well, but my ability to communicate in my mother tongue is lacking. Her eyes catch my sight, this time not projecting annoyance, but now disappointment, with her head shaking and her uttering, “That is an absolute shame. You should know how to speak Spanish. You are Hispanic and do not know Spanish? What a shame.”
I took a quick trip to Target a month ago and browsed for new jeans. I approached the clothing section and was suddenly struck by the overwhelming challenge I had undertaken. From rack to rack, I had to choose from a multitude of different brands (Levis, Wrangler, True Religion and more), different styles (skinny, bootcut, tapered and more) and different colors (blue, black, tan and more). I had to figure out my current exact size and, even then, there are many different ways to size jeans (small-medium-large, waist-by-length and others).
I began my journey with the Deaf community before coming to medical school starting with a basic American Sign Language class just to learn a few routine signs. I continued with the American Sign Language Club at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, hoping to learn more medical signs for any future interactions with Deaf patients. Through the club, I recently met an incredible four-year-old boy named John at a local community event to meet Peppa Pig.
Even though providers often must jump for one room to the next, it is important that they take the time to learn about each patient’s individual needs.
We, as current and future health care providers, should actively participate in providing our patients with proper support and access to an interpreter.
It was a Wednesday morning. The air was crisp. The sun graced us with brilliance. I made my way to the emergency room where I was working for a two-week period on the cardiology consult service.