“Urgent Message – Clinical Rotation Closure”
That was the email I received after walking out of my last day of Neuro – ICU rotation. At the time, I was supposed to have two more weeks in the ICU learning how to manage our patients in critical need. But like many others involved in the current health crisis, my plans had to change.
I am a fourth-year medical student, nearing the end of my medical school journey prior to residency. As I sat in my car and looked down at my white coat, I realized that this would be the last day I was going to wear it. I felt a wave of emotions: relief to finally be done, anger at the virus, but mostly, I was sad that I didn’t get to end medical school on my own terms.
As I continued to ride the wave of emotions, and reflect on my journey thus far, I found myself coming back to one overarching sentiment: I’m very proud to be a part of the osteopathic medical profession. I watched our community take initiative, as ours were some of the first medical schools to cancel rotations and classes. We put the medical students first when it came to their health. As hospitals continue to see an influx of COVID-19 patients, they will begin to run low on supplies. Medical students are a part of the health care system, but we’re limited to what we can do. We can’t put in orders, run tests, or prescribe medications on our own, which puts healthcare teams in a difficult situation. And because students in clinical settings often require valuable resources like personal protective equipment (PPE) and time, as much as we want to be helpful and do what we can to fight this pandemic, the best place for many of us to be right now is to stay home and protect our loved ones and ourselves from becoming infected.
I was very fortunate to successfully match into an ophthalmology residency in January 2020. Ophthalmology is an “early match” specialty. Annually, students seeking to place into ophthalmology or plastic surgery use the SF Matching Program. Thus, prospective ophthalmologists like myself make their decision earlier than medical students interested in most other specialties. After receiving notification of having matched, I found myself wanting to go home early to read for enjoyment and relax, which I haven’t done for over three years. Now given the current pandemic, all I want to do is return to the hospital to fight alongside my brothers and sisters in this profession and to help their patients battle this illness. Like many others, it’s a spot I didn’t see myself in one week ago. As much as I want to help, I know my place is at home to keep everyone safe, and to help ensure the hospital has all the resources it needs to properly and safely care for its patients.
Moral of the story: It’s times like these that I’m happy I chose to become a DO. I was trained to look at the person as a whole. It’s easy right now to see those affected by the pandemic as a “COVID-19” patient. But these patients have a home, a family, loved ones, and for some, even their pets’ lives have to be on hold for weeks while they’re in isolation. Patients that don’t get to see visitors or leave their hospital isolation room. Whenever they’re seen by a health care worker, they’re covered in protective gear. I’m glad we’ve all been trained to show compassion, empathy, and the ability to see outside of the disease. This is why I’m proud to be a part of the DO community. They trained me to be the type of health care worker we need the most right now.
Written by Jamie Beckman, OMS IV, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Carolinas Campus.