“Suffering has a place only in a world where there is insufficient empathy.”
“No Matter what religion we follow, what politics we support what family we were born into, or where we’ve placed our roots, we all deal with universal problems. Regardless of our differences, we all live our lives around the same questions. How we answer them dictates the choices we’ll make and what kind of person we’ll be from moment to moment. Some answers actually breathe when we inflate them and try to find a pulse, Others seem implausible and yet make a world of sense when we step inside them and wrap them around our circumstances.
And others still can feel absolute for what seems like an eternity until life cross-examines them and reminds us how fragile most answers are.”
As provost and Dean of Clinical Affairs, of the American University Integrative Sciences, I have had the opportunity over the last four years to teach and direct the Advanced Clinical Medicine course, three to four times a year. This one-month intensive course is designed to prepare students for their clinical clerkships and USMLE STEP 2 CS exam. Students that have completed their pre-clinical basic sciences courses taught at AUIS on the island of Barbados return to Atlanta to begin their clinical clerkships. In addition, students from other medical schools that are transferring to AUIS attend the course in preparation for a clerkship.
This year, the November 2019 course was completed the week of Thanksgiving. Each year the Hosea Williams “Feed the Hungry” foundation held at the Georgia World Congress Center sponsors a dinner for the homeless. In addition, attendees have access to clothing, medical check-ups, showers and barber services. Yearly I have witnessed the most frequent station utilized in this event is the “foot washing” station. Many of the homeless have no shoes and at best worn-out shoes. Their feet are often infected, with open sores and dirty reflecting their life on the street. Volunteers from all walks of life, assist in one or more stations.
This year, I had the occasion to have two of our own AUIS medical students attend the event. Nitya Chitravanshi and Swati Patel, both were keen to treat medically attendees requiring medical assistance. During a lull in the patient count, one of our students, Nitya Chitravanshi dawned a plastic apron and gloves and assisted at the foot-washing station. (see video). The other AUIS student Swati, along with medical and pharmacy students from the Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; addressed the medical needs of participants.
In contemplating a career in medicine, I would encourage any student anticipating applying to medical school to strongly consider AUIS as a strong consideration.
Based on years of reflection in academia, I ruminate as to what type of student AUIS attracts? Those that put service to others before themselves. I believe most physicians are drawn to medicine for the human connection. A basic belief/tenant of life is to improve the condition of others. I have come to learn, that behind every patient lies a story, whether hidden or shared. Physicians have the honor of examining patients not only with their eyes but also with their hearts.
Desmond Tutu echoed this in his quotation; “Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”