When researching medical schools, it was essential that I consider schools that shared the value I placed on the ‘holistic approach.’ I truly believe academics should be equally supplemented with community service, leadership roles, and clinical experience. As evident in GUSOM’s curriculum, the school integrates clinical, scientific and humanistic disciplines into their education. These facets are effective in developing compassionate physicians that are dedicated to the care of their patients and in becoming agents of change in society.
GUSOM’s requirement of 20 hours of community service is a mere example of the school’s commitment to a well-rounded education. The school’s focus on ‘Cura Personalis’ is evident in the entirety of the curriculum, but this philosophy finds expression in service to the community. I will devote myself to the application of this philosophy by serving the Georgetown community perhaps through donating my time to organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House.
Previously having been a member of the Ronald McDonald House as a reception volunteer, the opportunity taught me compassion and empathy. I also felt the satisfaction one experiences as a result of caring for the sick. I honestly believe that the only way one can understand and employ the breadths of the Cura Personalis philosophy is through service to the community. GUSOM’s focus on a well balanced educational experience is also evident in the availability of the Health Justice Scholar Track. The curriculum exemplifies the school’s universal learning approach as students can learn and apply the skills necessary to effectively advocate for patients and understand the relationship between advocacy, health and health determinants.
It is vital that physician’s advocate for a more fair and impartial health care system that encompasses the care of all citizens in society, especially, the vulnerable and underserved. My interest in health justice and health care as a right stems from my extracurricular experiences at McMaster University. As an external and volunteer coordinator for the Student International Health Initiatives Club, I was primarily involved with community outreach and focused on unifying the Hamilton and McMaster communities. The organization focused on raising awareness of global issues targeting health care.
An issue of primary concern was access to health care in developing countries. Underprivileged citizens endure difficulties in accessing proper health care, in particular, due to the high medical costs and the negative stigma associated with poverty. An event was held where McMaster students were invited to join a speaker series in which physicians from the McMaster Children’s Hospital discussed their experiences abroad whilst providing care in poverty stricken areas. This event opened my eyes to the importance of health care rights and adequate access to health care. The Health Justice Scholar curriculum will further add to my knowledge on heath care as a right and teach me to advocate effectively for the rights of the underserved.
Additionally, as an executive member of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), we often focused on medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality. MSF does not support the idea that poor people deserve third-class medical care and works toward providing high-quality care to patients. Events focused on lowering the prices of costly medication for chronic diseases such as HIV and diabetes as well as advocating for regions that receive scant international attention. Therefore, MSF also steered me in the direction toward preaching for adequate and easy access to health care. Overall, health rights and health justice are factors that a physician should embody and defend. Hence, this excellent program is a significant factor in my decision to attend GUSOM.
A second factor that heavily draws me toward the school is the emphasis on early clinical training with respect to patient care. Exemplary patient care delivery is of primary significance to a physician. Being a physician requires a strong commitment to patients and an understanding of the challenges of dealing with patients who are experiencing the most difficult time in their lives. One can read about a disease all that they want, but to be able to speak to and examine a patient with that disease is an incomparable learning experience. It is an incredible responsibility as well.
Despite having immense experience in the provision of patient care as a result of my volunteer experiences at the Credit Valley Hospital, patient care skills are not skills one can gain by reading a textbook. Therefore, the availability of a simulation center, known as the Integrated Learning Center, is the perfect clinical setting to sharpen one’s patient care skills. The learning center will serve as a place where I can interact with standardized patients and improve my clinical and communications skills. Patient examination rooms and laboratory rooms pose as an excellent resource for students to evaluate their clinical skills according to a certain criteria and standardized methodologies.
It is an incredible privilege to take care of patients and, thus, clinical opportunities such as these provide the foundation of successful patient care. Physicians ask patients the most intimate and intrusive types of questions, such as requesting them to disrobe for an exam in order to poke at and examine their body. In return, the physician is responsible for protecting the patient from harm and healing them. Therefore, it is vital that doctors effectively learn to communicate and behave with patients early on in their career.
Nonetheless, GUSOM outperforms in its focus on early clinical exposure with the availability of a top-notch simulation center. Finally, the continuous health care ethics curriculum that students are introduced to in the first year will also aid in strengthening patient care expertise. Since culture, spirituality, ethnicity, religion and socioeconomic status play a significant role in health-related beliefs and most importantly in the recommended treatment plan. Therefore, the school’s concern for spiritual and ethical factors is commendable, and the ethical and cultural competency course is an important step in the provision of patient care.
Lastly, I predict that it will be terribly difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst balancing a heavy workload. Ergo, I am grateful to GUSOM for incorporating the Mind-Body Medicine course into the curriculum, as I have yet to discover a relaxation technique that works wonders and is effective in relieving stress. Hence, I am looking forward to a course such as this in order to keep my fitness in check. More importantly, self-awareness, meditation, physical exercise, and biofeedback are approaches utilized in complementary and alternative healthcare. Thus, knowledge of such diverse techniques can aid in enhancing a patient’s treatment experience.
Perhaps simply by appreciating their capabilities for self-awareness and self-care. More importantly, such approaches can improve an existing pharmacological or surgical treatment plan by teaching patients about the importance of prevention and self-care. Therefore, I will not only be benefiting myself but I will also incorporate this knowledge into the treatment plan of every patient I heal. Thus, I respect the school’s emphasis on the wellbeing of the student and the significance of generating open-minded physicians.