After a visit to the Family Health Center of Harlem during one of the earlier Art and Science of Medicine sessions, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a doctor who had himself been a medical student at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. As a student, in order to use his French speaking skills in a medical setting, he had found an organization with which he was able to work and still continues to do so till this very day.
I’ve had experience interviewing adolescents before. I worked at the Adolescent Health Center for most of a semester in my first year of medical school. But this was the first time I would interview an adolescent patient alone, and perform the physical exam. I was a bit nervous.
I walked into the room to find a tall, thin, young woman lying nearly supine, bundled in hospital bed sheets. Her father sat in the green, rubbery chair beside her bed. The girl’s pale face nearly blended into the bed sheets that enveloped her. I introduced myself and asked for her name. Veronica.
I met Marlene when her dreams were interrupted at 5 a.m. Monday morning. She opened her eyes to a swarm of white coats crowding around her bed. She then weathered a few minutes of rapid-fire questions about nausea and bowel movements.
It was morning rounds on my first day of my surgery rotation at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Marlene was much more accustomed to this whirlwind pre-dawn ritual than I. She had been in the hospital since Friday, when she had decided that the past week of vomiting and abdominal pain warranted a trip to the emergency room.