Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Out of this Stratosphere

FLASHBACK SERIES: Blog posts written during my medical school days at Pacific Northwest University - College of Osteopathic Medicine

by Kim Ha Wadsworth, OMS III

During my pediatrics rotation, I regularly performed the H&P (history & physical) for well-child visits and presented the encounters to my preceptor as part of my clinical training. One afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting an amiable, well-spoken teenage girl. As I proceeded with my history taking, I learned that she loved math and science but wasn't sleeping well due to some stress in her life—demands of her classes, a recent breakup with her boyfriend, her younger brother's serious medical illness, and ongoing adjustment to her parents' divorce. We continued with the rest of the H&P, and then I excused myself from the exam room to present the case to Dr. Khurana.

Escape velocity analogy.
© 2016 by Dr. Khurana.
Reprinted with permission.
My preceptor and I returned into the exam room together. Dr. Khurana asked additional questions as well as performed a routine physical exam. Like me, my preceptor was equally excited about this girl's interest in STEM and wholeheartedly encouraged her to pursue a science career as she considers her next step of applying to college.

I was impressed by what happened at the end of the encounter. Taking the information that I had presented to her as well as her direct assessment of the patient, Dr. Khurana drew this diagram and discussed its meaning to the teenager.

We all have an innate drive to succeed. What is needed for stratospheric success? Applying an analogy from physics, we visualize the concept of escape velocity in order to break free from Earth's gravitational pull. The pull holding us back can be our family problems, relationship issues, past history, addictions, or lack of motivation—it spirals us downward into a ditch of depression, self-destruction or failure. On the other hand, education is the escape velocity that can launch us "out of this stratosphere" into a job that provides us money to afford the things we need or want in life. Education does not only mean formal schooling; it includes skills development, vocational training, leadership development, and application of knowledge.

What a wonderful opportunity to observe the art of communication in pediatrics. As I discovered, children are not simply small adults, and pediatricians have a true knack for reaching their patient population in inspiring ways.

P.S. I am happy to report that I didn't get sick during my entire peds rotation—now that's an accomplishment! Constant hand washing really does work.