Sara Wierbowski (5 Posts)
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Sara Wierbowski is a forth-year medical student at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. class of 2023. In 2019, she graduated from The University of Scranton with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She is currently a member of the Literature and Medicine Scholarly Track, which allows her to continue to enjoy the humanities while in medical school. After graduating medical school, Sara plans to pursue a psychiatry residency.
I would be lying if I said I remember every single patient that I have seen in the past almost two years of clinical rotations. However, each of my core rotations has become defined by one or two patients that most stood out to me.
During my pediatric rotation, a little girl was brought to the ED the day her family was set to leave for vacation. Her physical exam and imaging confirmed a ruptured appendix that would require surgery and almost a week of IV antibiotics, meaning our patient would miss her family’s forthcoming vacation.
It was the first day of my inpatient internal medicine rotation and I felt as excited as ever to be in the hospital, participating in rounds. “How’s your day going?” I asked automatically in a cheery tone as I entered my first patient’s room.
When my family saw me painstakingly hand-placing individual sprinkles on the apices of buttercream rosettes at age 15, I justified this obsessive behavior by telling them, “I’m just practicing precision for the day when I get to inject into people’s faces.”
My mother likes to tell the story of how, as a small child, I referred to the superficial wounds sustained in my first head-over-handlebars accident as an “abrasion.” I remember staring at my knee, fascinated by my body’s ability to heal itself. The sacred anatomy of wounds, atoms as spacious as galaxies, coalescing and woven with no instruction of my own to renew what had been lost.
During the last week of my clinical rotation in Family Medicine, my attending advised me and the accompanying medical student that going forward, the health providers of the clinic must limit their scope of care for patients who present for annual examinations.
Last year, I walked into a big hospital room towards the tiny NICU bed with a tiny baby in his space helmet. The moment he came out of that helmet, which was pumping in 100% oxygen, he would start deteriorating.
It is morning outside, the sun barely kissing the horizon. The curtains have been drawn in an attempt to force any lick of light from the room. But one slim shard cuts through the drapes, illuminating John’s face.
After our first week on clinical rotations, my third-year medical student colleagues laughed about the silly and awkward things that made their first days hard. Someone was shunned for bumping into the sterile field during their first operation. Someone else couldn’t figure out the scrub machines and was stuck mismatching for the day.
It was my third day on my home dermatology elective, and I boldly volunteered to see a patient by myself. As a third-year medical student strongly considering dermatology for my future career, I had studied for weeks for this rotation, hoping to make an impression as a confident, knowledgeable and reliable doctor-in-training. Usually, medical students shadow for two weeks before seeing patients on their own, but I was eager to be more independent. This was my chance to demonstrate everything I was working toward.
Third-year rotations forced me to reckon with my emotional capacity as a human and future physician. With each patient encounter, I had to decide whether my skin was too thick or too thin.
It was a Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. and I was rushing to the hospital for pre-rounds. I was on my neurology rotation, and my pockets were heavy and stuffed with tools. My preceptor had texted me the room numbers of the patients I was to visit that morning. I had three patients to see in the hour before rounds — the first two patients I had been following every day this week and a third patient was a new admit from overnight.
Rachel Shatanof (1 Posts)
Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
Rachel Shatanof is a fourth year medical student at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami, FL class of 2023. In 2018, she graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts in biology. She enjoys running, painting, stand-up comedy, and the NYT crossword in her free time. After graduating medical school, Rachel would like to pursue a career in Internal Medicine