As a third-year medical student on my rotations, I am always looking for ways to be helpful while making sure I am not in the way of the physician, nurses, or residents. Often times, I find myself questioning my role in the health care system. Do I belong here? Am I truly a part of this patient’s care? How much of a difference can I make as a student? These are just some of the questions that cross my mind when I am assigned to take care of patients.
One night I met a patient that truly changed the way I will approach patient care as a physician. During my OBGYN rotation, my preceptor and I were on call numerous times for the labor and delivery unit. We admitted a patient that was very close to delivering but did not speak any English. In fact, she had moved to the US with her husband and their previous children were all born at home, so they were not accustomed to the hospital’s process. I took it upon myself to introduced myself to the best of my abilities using a translation application on my phone. I checked on her throughout the night, brought her warm tea, and fixed the TV to play her favorite old school movie. During her delivery, I held her hand, motivated her to keep pushing, and assisted with delivering her baby. While her beautiful baby rested peacefully in her husband’s arms, she called me over and gave me the biggest hug I could possibly imagine. In that very moment even though no words were exchanged, I knew how grateful she had been for my presence.
It’s true that I cannot put in orders or administer medications but my patient cared about the little things that I was able to do for her that night. As students we have a bigger role than we believe. Our patients count on us to get through some of the toughest yet magical moments of their lives. Never underestimate the power that you have as a medical student and don’t forget to remind yourself about the integral role you play in each and every one of your patient’s care.