October has come and gone, and this month has been my most productive month yet for community service. I am now fully emerged into my “teaching” rotation at Anna’s Place. My first day as an instructor was so much fun and also very challenging. For the nutrition segment of my first class, we learned about calcium and bones. One of the things that I quickly realized is that I could not approach my class in the traditional way which I had been trained. On Mondays, the children have just returned to school from the weekend and are full of the energy for the week ahead – my supervisor told me that there is a marked difference in behavior on days like Thursdays and Fridays (in preparation for the weekend) compared to Mondays. So on my first day of teaching, the students completely lost interest in my “lecture” style of teaching, and I thus lost control of the classroom. There were students crawling under tables, chasing each other, etc., and I left feeling disappointed in myself that I had wasted the students’ time from actually taking something beneficial away from the class. But I was determined not to allow this to happen again, so over the next week I researched different lesson plans to keep very young children (my youngest student is 5 years old) interested in learning during after school programs, and the most common theme that I found was to simply keep them moving! So during my next class, we learned about muscles, and I thought it would be fun to pair the students into groups, assign them a muscle, and allow them to create a non-traditional exercise for that muscle. They loved it! The creativity they showed was great to see – it was actually hilarious. I paired myself with one of the students, and we came up with an all-in-one exercise for our quads, glutes, and triceps.
More importantly, my experience this month has reminded me of the intricacies of human interaction, and also had me reflecting on the intricacies of doctor-patient care...particularly as it relates to what we’ve learned thus far in the program. In my training for the after school program, I was instructed to feel free to automatically dismiss students from the classroom at the first signs of trouble or distraction. This sounded great in theory, but once confronted with actual students, I quickly assessed that doing this – when the students and I are bound together for at minimum 10 week – would probably negate any potential chance of developing trust and respect for the remainder of the program. At the same time, allowing unruly behavior in the classroom does a huge disservice to everyone, especially other students. So, therein lies the conflict between what you train and prepare for/what you study/what you believe to be true…and reality. And as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into pharmacology and the inherent patient care that it entails, you realize that this is something you will always have to confront and face head-on as a doctor. There are so many scenarios that you’re prepared to treat in traditional ways, but realize that due to specific context, it may require nontraditional care. There are so many drugs that may have immense therapeutic benefit – but may also bring serious side effects (i.e. Aliskiren – I’m studying for my renal block exam as we speak!), and as a doctor, you have to make the best decision of treatment for your patient. In my classroom, in every word that I speak or action that I take, I hope I convey to my students that I have their best interest in mind. As a doctor, I believe this same principle is the key to navigating these scenarios. I’m confident that carrying this with me and applying it as I go, in any situation, can lead to success.
Community Service Totals: 27.5 hours
October: 11 hours