MedStart Journal Sample
Web editor's note: Students in MedStart submit monthly reflective journals in partial fulfillment of the requirements of their MedStart seminar course. Below is a journal entry from MedStart student Anita Vasudevan.
Getting in Gear for the New Year
Each New Year presents itself as a flower waiting to bloom, full of untold promises and fresh challenges. It is a time to set goals and work towards becoming an even better student, human being, and physician-to-be. This semester, it is my goal to begin better utilizing my time and following through thoroughly with every commitment I make. January has already come and gone in the blink of an eye, and it feels more important than ever to manage my time efficiently if I am to accomplish everything I would like to accomplish. I am taking a full course load with two sciences this semester, continuing my volunteering activities, and undertaking a part-time job. In order to manage my time most effectively, I am beginning to take advantage of both my planner and the calendar feature on my smart phone. By mapping out the time distribution of each day, I will be able to successfully find time to check off every item on my to-do list.
The most exciting change that 2012 has brought to my life thus far is my graduation from UpDog Yoga’s Teacher Training program, which officially took place on January 22nd. Upon obtaining my certificate, I inquired about the possibility of teaching yoga at Wayne State’s own Mort Harris Recreation & Fitness Center. Though they had been offering yoga classes last semester, these had been discontinued for Winter 2012. After an interview on February 2nd, I was hired on to the MHRFC team as the new yoga instructor, where I will be teaching five classes a week beginning February 13th. I am excited to have procured a job doing something I love; this experience will certainly be a taste of what my future as a physician holds in that respect. Moreover, fitness and medicine, though separate entities, are inextricably intertwined, and I suspect that my job will introduce me to a new aspect of the realm of health and well-being.
As a MedStart student, I realize that it is important to continue immersing myself in health-care related activities, such as shadowing, in concert with expanding my horizon through activities such as teaching yoga. Over winter break, I shadowed Dr. Lalitha Sivaswamy, a pediatric neurologist at the Children’s Hospital, for the second time. Having seen her at work once before gave me a control group of sorts for comparison, and it was an even richer experience for me as I was able to pick out the defining qualities that make her a good doctor. Dr. Sivaswamy is best characterized by nimbleness. She walks fast, talks fast (articulately, but quickly), and thinks fast. Her residents privately applauded her to me as they told me how attending physicians do not usually make the rounds for the primary questionnaire to patients; they usually only go in the second time with the diagnosis and prescription. Dr. Sivaswamy, however, is all about efficiency, and she does not place any work beneath her, so she, too, conducts some of the primary questionnaires while residents do the others. This is a remarkably admirable trait, in my opinion, because despite being the head physician of the team, Dr. Sivaswamy continues to work solely toward the goal of happy, healthy patients without getting caught up in the politics of the hierarchy.
In other news, I successfully navigated the rough seas of bureaucracy and finally scheduled a date to shadow Dr. Levy, a doctor of emergency medicine. I am looking forward to observing a night shift in mid-February.
Aside from shadowing, I also like being a part of the DMC community as a Children’s Hospital volunteer. It is so rewarding to see the kids smiling, laughing, and playing despite whatever illness is keeping them at the hospital. After having volunteered at CHM for almost two months now, I can see what a vital role the playroom serves in the hospital. Though it may seem like an accessory, it truly does let the kids forget their health concerns for a while and just take time to be a kid, which is essential for a healthy psyche and attitude.
In addition to the health care-related activities that I have been pursuing on my own, there were also two MedStart activities that opened me up to new facets of this diverse field: the seminar on January 26th and the co-curricular luncheon on January 31st. This month’s seminar was centered on discussing the book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a cancer physician and researcher. Over the course of the assigned reading, I was enthralled by the pervasiveness of cancer into history and politics, but upon completion, I was interested to find out how the contents of this book would be relevant to my career as a physician. As it turned out, Dr. Robert Zalenski, Director of Clinical Research, did an excellent job giving selected topics from the book present-day relevance. For example, we discussed how politics, medicine, and research are intrinsically related, both as evidenced in the book with historical accounts of funding allocation to cancer research and as evidenced in current affairs with the distribution of money towards medical research and the fiery debate over healthcare reformation. Thanks to the discussion led by Dr. Zalenski, the seminar served as a fluid segue between simply gaining an in-depth understanding of cancer and connecting it to my future as a physician.
The co-curricular luncheon on January 31st featured Dr. Bernard Degman, a pediatric endocrinologist, who spoke about the nuances of diabetes in children. Since this was an event that was aimed at medical students, I had the opportunity to experience as an undergraduate the type of lecture I will be attending in four years. I was slightly overwhelmed by the quick pace of Dr. Degman’s discourse, but I think this was in part due to my incomplete understanding of concepts that he presumed all attendees knew. Overall, learning about this topic was interesting and informative, and I am grateful to Dr. Mendez for extending an invitation to the MedStart freshmen.
This semester, I am continuing my outside volunteering through the same tutoring organization I joined last semester as well as St. Pat’s Senior Center. I have been involved with St. Pat’s since high school, where I volunteered through a community service club. In an effort to help a friend find an ongoing volunteering opportunity, I contacted the director of the senior center and set up a once-a-week service project. During lunchtime on Mondays, I help serve lunch to the members and also just give them some company while eating. When I was younger, my mom always used to say that spending time with people under six and over sixty would help one lead a more fulfilled life, and now I am beginning to feel the meaning of her wise words. The generational gap opens up a venue for me to share in different perspectives and find the common ground of all humanity.
Additionally, I am excited to say that this semester has also presented me with more opportunities for involvement in WSU’s buildOn chapter. So far, I helped advertise our organization at the Winterfestand I initiated the sale of buildOn water bottles that I still had in my possession as a result of my involvement with the charity in high school. I am part of a committee for the planning of the Hunger Banquet fundraiser that will take place in April, and I cannot wait to take on some of the responsibility for planning such a large-scale event.
All in all, this year feels as though it has taken almost no time to get into full gear, but fortunately, I feel ready to embrace everything it brings with open arms, successes and challenges alike. Through effective time management and thoughtful planning, I hope to see all of these initiated projects follow through to the end of the semester.