School of Medicine student Theresa Wong (MS 2018) showed how even small acts of student participation can make a positive difference in the way we connect with patients and work together to provide care.
During her rotation in Surgical Sciences-Pediatrics, Theresa was observing a biopsy on an infant who was only a few weeks old.
As Theresa helped the nurses gently hold the baby’s hands away from his face, she noticed that he was scared and crying. The baby’s family was not able to be there, so Theresa started to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," a lullaby that she knew her young nephew liked. Her singing soothed the baby, and the team was able to continue with the procedure.
"I followed my first instinct in the best way that I knew to provide comfort," said Theresa. "As a student, I’m still learning how I fit in, so I always try to help in any little way possible."
"I was surprised in a good way when Theresa started singing," said Leah Marie Sieren, MD, assistant professor, Surgical Sciences-Pediatrics, who was working with Theresa. "Our students’ minds are so open and thoughtful, and Theresa found a great way to make the baby feel at ease."
Another valuable way that medical students make an impact is through regular face-to-face interaction with patients. "If I have a break or finish my notes, I’ll check on my patients," Theresa said. She visits patients several times each day, answering any questions or taking time to talk with them about their day. "These conversations let me know about their likes and dislikes and who they are as a person. It contributes to the bigger picture of their health."
Physicians and staff encourage student contributions and enhance the learning experience by creating an open environment of camaraderie. Simple gestures, like taking a moment to introduce themselves, asking a student about their interests, or giving a student an opportunity to participate on the health care team, can engage and involve students as active participants. Actions like this "open the door" for medical students to feel comfortable and easily integrate into the team, said Theresa.
"We've all been students at some point," said Sieren. "It’s important to remember your own days of learning and how much you wanted to contribute to the team. Our students are making connections with patients, families and staff that really augment and advance the care that we provide."