“Closer than a brother, my Jesus is to me” we sang in unison as we took the rustic bus to our first clinic day. The seven of us college students had no idea what to expect. When we arrived, the number of people that were waiting outside of the church was overwhelming. These people rely on students like us once a year for medical attention; I grew dismayed. The community of Vere, Jamaica knew that during a week in March each year, our group would travel to them with physicians who would diagnose, treat, and counsel patients on their medical issues without the innovative technology we have the luxury of back home. Throughout the day, we saw over 100 patients even more when the children were dismissed from school. We saw a range of medical issues from fungal infections to hyperglycemia and even a few patients that we knew we did not have the resources to treat. I decided that I wanted to go into medicine after taking my first anatomy class in high school. I was absolutely intrigued by the human body, and I knew that because I loved medicine, I would strive to encompass myself in my work. My junior year of college was when my elective biology classes became more relevant to medicine – I took a range of classes from immunology to genetics and as many anatomy classes as I could find, including human, comparative, and vertebrate. While these are considered some of the toughest undergraduate classes, I was able to take multiple at a time and indulge in the way in which the sciences come together. I also decided to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in psychology to learn more about mental health issues. Leading up to the trip, I knew without doubt that I was intelligent enough to handle the workload of a medical professional. It was not until seeing patients in Jamaica that I understood what it meant to emotionally care for patients that are in poor health. What struck me most about our patients was the stability of their mental health and overall well-being. While all of these people were financially in poverty, they were wealthy in spirit and faith. While we were gaining so much clinical knowledge, our emotions revolved around those of our patients. I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to rural Jamaica to set up medical clinics for the underserved populations. That week in March of 2014 was the most enriching and humbling week, and the best way I could have spent my Spring Break as a senior in college. I returned home with a broader perspective and understanding as to how I will one day need to treat my patients. I cannot wait to integrate such service into my career. Before this week, I had only shadowed a physician a handful of times and certainly did not understand the mechanics of even the most common diseases. I initially applied to be a part of CAMEO because I knew that this would be a great clinical experience prior to studying medicine, little did I know that the I would gain so much more than just textbook knowledge. One of the most fundamental parts of this trip for me as a future PA was learning how to make a differential diagnosis without lab work or radiology. After working countless hours as a scribe in the emergency department, I am able to again understand the clinical indications for particular testing, and then follow through with the patient to learn the diagnosis and the proper form of treatment for the patient. That week, I learned two essential components for successfully practicing medicine: patient care and clinical diagnosis. It is important to assume that a patient does not understand the dynamics of their condition, and rather than belittling them, effective treatment is reinforced when the provider takes the time to counsel and support the patient. Diabetes is a major disease in Jamaica as well as the United States and is linked with many other diseases that are becoming more and more common. A holistic approach to medicine is best when treating a patient who may not be able to afford health insurance or medications and is the only way to prevent medication dependency or advancing of disease. I was able to teach the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia, as well as podiatric and dental maintenance, to a group at a homeless shelter through Volunteers In Medicine. For this group, seeing a family care physician regularly is not an option, and often meals are not of their own choice. In these two scenarios, prevention of further complications is the goal. Every now and then I catch myself chanting the gospel songs I learned in Jamaica, and I am once again reminded that these two humbling experiences, and my wealth of knowledge I have gained from working in the emergency department, have fortified my career choice and given me confidence as a future practitioner; I am thrilled to integrate my passions for both the material facts of anatomy and physiology with mortal facts of psychology and spirituality for a career in medicine.
Florida State University - BS, Biology and Psychology
What is your teaching philosophy?
As an aspiring PA student, my goal is to prepare students for their next level of schooling by setting a firm foundation.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Ask the student their goals and where their problem areas may be.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
By reminding them that each step in school leads to the next, and without strong grades their goal may become more difficult to achieve.