The day began with four hours of the new module – physiology. From the very beginning, I was thoroughly enthralled by the material. I was that little child who asked “but whyyy” many times a day and physiology fulfilled that very question.
At 3 pm, a session was held to teach us how to go about preparing an abstract for our summer research project. Not only was it useful for my writing but even more importantly, it had me ruminating on the many different parts of my research projects.
After this session, I quickly rushed off to the African Services Committee center in Harlem to speak to one of the directors. She offered me the opportunity to go to Ethiopia to conduct a chart review for the organization in order to determine the risk factors for HIV for individuals tested at their center. Given that I am seeking a way to become more involved in the organization as well as the fact that I have not as yet been to Ethiopia, I agreed to spend a few weeks of my summer there.
My FlexTime today was spent scurrying from meeting to meeting. I met with Renee Bischoff at the Global Health Office to discuss the progress being made on my Scholarly project to be conducted in my home country, Ghana. There are quite a few hoops one is required to hop through in order to do research in a foreign country and Renee helped me create a checklist.
My next stop was a meeting with Dr. Soriano. I spoke to Dr. Soriano last semester when I first formulated the idea for a palliative care project in Ghana. Although he is not serving as the principle mentor for the project, he has been gracious enough to meet with me from time to time and share advice along the way.
After this meeting, I was off to see my Track adviser, Dr. Sheffield. If there is one thing the Icahn School of Medicine is exceptional at (and trust me, there are many!), it is at providing students with a broad support system, compromising many faculty members, as well as fellow medical students. Since I am trying to create a Global Health research project from scratch, having many eyes look over my proposed plan helps catch potential glitches that I would miss on my own.
At 4 pm, I had my favorite weekly activity – Med Docs! Spending time with the high school students and teaching them anatomy is my most fulfilling engagement at med school, especially when they recall lessons taught to them.
I cannot stress this enough—thank goodness for FlexTime!
This morning I woke up bright and early and went to the Martha Stewart Center to shadow at the Palliative Care Clinic. I have always been drawn to this branch of medicine, perhaps because my love for medicine was born from my experience caring for my own grandmother after she had suffered a stroke. In college, I had explored palliative care further by serving weekly as a patient-assist volunteer at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford. Being at the Palliative Care clinic was unlike my past experiences, particularly because it was the first time I had seen palliative care integrated into treatment and not devoted purely to end-of-life care. It was indeed an eye-opener for me and made me think about how to involve palliative care in my career and the different trajectories available to achieve this goal.
I am always scouting for potential mentors and advisers. My search brought me to Ann-Gel Palermo of the Center of Multicultural and Community Affairs (CMCA). This morning, I had an appointment with her to discuss my summer project and to listen to her suggestions. Not only did I get very useful feedback from Ann-Gel, but in addition, she also offered for CMCA to provide me with a summer stipend if I could not receive one from the traditional avenues (the Research office or Global Health office) given my status here as an International student. I walked out of this meeting elated because a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The potential financial burden of my summer plans had been weighing on my mind and the thought of having financial support available was indeed a relief.