Today was Primary Care Day at UMC. This is an annual event in which the M1 class is exposed to some of the day-to-day experiences of some of the clinics at the University. We met at 8:00 AM for breakfast at the Jackson Medical Mall which is an off-campus clinic site. For the first part of the morning we had a physician and a resident from Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and OB-Gyn speak to us about their area of care. The class was then split into four groups and we rotated through each of the four clinical areas. We had been told to wear our white coats, so I assumed we would be getting a little patient contact, but it was a demonstration type of deal only.
In Pediatrics, they had mannequins of infants and children set up for us to practice intubation on. I have never done one of these, but was able to place the tube pretty quickly on the dummies. Unfortunately, I’m sure it’s a lot more difficult when you have a real life child and you have to worry about squirming, breaking of teeth, etc. In the OB-Gyn clinic we saw a doctor demonstrate Pap smear techniques on a model and heard about the kinds of things done on a daily basis. Family medicine had a little fair set up with a lot of demos. There was a breast tissue biopsy slide under a microscope, a model colon with a scope you could use to check for polyps, a body fat composition computer, and a sports medicine display. The Internal Medicine doctors presented a case study on a 35 year-old woman who presented with fatigue and shortness of breath. Through her history and testing we determined that mitral valve stenosis was a likely diagnosis. They then demonstrated a heart echo machine on one of our classmates.
The rotations were followed up with a nice lunch and the whole thing was over by 1:00. I was disappointed that we weren’t dealing with real patients as I had mistakenly anticipated, but it was a fund day and nice to have no classes.
I forgot to mention a good experience Monday night. The Pediatrics department sponsored a party for the M1 and M2 class at a downtown eatery that specializes in homemade pizzas. Spouses were invited also, so Angie and I went and had a great time. The speaker was Dr. Sorey, a pediatrician who gave a light-hearted talk on how to save face at family reunions when you eventually became a doctor. He guaranteed us that relatives would challenge our diagnostical acumen by presenting all sorts of rashes and lesions to us in the food line and want to know what they were. He then took us through a series of photos demonstrating some of the stuff we would likely be challenged on one day. Despite the levity, he did say one thing that really resonated with Angie and me. He said that as a pediatrician he was not always able to fix the children. Sometimes he had heartbreaking cases where he could not cure the patient but he could do whatever was in his power to make their life and that of their families better.
Angie and I were taking Manning to Huntsville, Alabama regularly a couple of years ago to see a doctor who we though a lot of. Dr. Bebin always was so kind to us and so reassuring. We were getting a lot of advice from well-meaning friends and relatives, telling us we should try this or go to that place, and Angie was afraid that she was not doing everything she could for Manning. Sometimes when you are not getting results, it is easy to feel that way, despite the fact that you are getting the best care possible. I asked Dr. Bebin if she felt we were doing the right things and sensing Angie’s distress, she exclaimed, “you’re a WONDERFUL mother. Manning couldn’t possibly have someone better to take care of him, and you have done everything you can do.” And she said it in a way that made you know she MEANT it. It was a poignant moment and as we drove the 350 miles home, we talked about why we continued to travel so far for what amounted to routine check-ups. And the answer we came up with was, “because Dr. Bebin makes us feel better.”
That is exactly the thing that Dr. Sorey was talking about. That is the kind of doctor I want to be.