Entering medical school meant many different things for me in all aspects of my life. I had an opportunity to shadow a clinical allergist over the summer months and remembered being so excited as he conversed with the patient while I sat there quietly. I often thought to myself, when will it be my turn to ask questions to patients as I always enjoyed hearing about their life, their stories and how the particular illness/symptom specifically affected them. I also remember thinking to myself, that this was going to be challenging, the physician so seamlessly integrated everything we learned about in clinical skills in a short 15 minute conversation with the patient. I wondered if I would ever be able to get to that level, and how much practice it took.
I was so surprised to learn that our experience with patients would begin as soon as the second month of medical school. This Family Medicine Experience is quite unique to our program, where we are paired with a practicing family physician in a community and shadow them for up to 6 weeks. This would have been my first exposure to primary care on the other side i.e. not as a patient. I was glad to have my Family Medicine Experience in the first block but also intimidated by the fact that I knew almost nothing and was expected to have a conversation with a patient. I remember reflecting back on my experiences as a patient and observer, to remind myself of what patients had liked and disliked. However, no matter how much one prepares, each conversation is unique and I realized that the most important skill was to adapt.