Hospital Milestones: Your First Inpatient Interaction
Seeing a patient at the UVM Medical Center marks a milestone for first-year medical students at the Larner College of Medicine. Typically, it's the first time a medical student dons their white coat professionally and is visually identified as a physician-in-training. For many students, it's also their first one-on-one interaction with a patient as a member of the healthcare system. Professionalism, Communication and Reflection (PCR) Course Co-Director Shaden Eldakar-Hein, M.D., explained the importance of this first visit: "This introduction [takes place] before the students can give any kind of medical advice [and] is crucial to seeing them [the patient] as a person first...to learn that listening and validating a patient's story is incredibly therapeutic and healing." In addition to teaching the students to really listen to patients, the assignment serves another purpose – to remind the students why they're in medical school. Reminiscing about her own training as a medical student, Eldakar-Hein noted that she didn't see her first true patient until she was in clerkship. "I remember spending two years being inundated with medical information, almost stuck in the books, wondering what my purpose was," she said. She adds that today, the most grounding and uplifting experiences for her are still those times when she is able to sit by a patient's bedside and listen to their story. First-year medical student Collin Montgomery echoed Eldakar-Hein's sentiments, saying "It was so energizing and served as a really well-timed reminder of what I'm here for. It's pretty exhausting and draining learning the hard science behind medicine in the classrooms all of the time...a lot of it is really fascinating and interesting to learn about, but getting into the hospital, wearing the coat, going into the patient's room, sitting down, talking, and listening – I mean, that is it, that's the exciting stuff, that's why we're here."