My research project culminated in a training session held for caregivers of cancer patients. In preceding weeks, my team of two medical students and I had conducted a needs assessment in order to determine what these caregivers felt they needed in order to provide optimal care to their patients. The goal was to create a training module that would be useful to them and that could be continued by the department even after my departure. The results of the needs assessment showed that caregivers could benefit from training sessions that focused on any of the following:

·    Caregiver and Patient Emotional Support
·    Dealing with Death and Dying
·    Diet and Nutrition
·    Patient Signs and Symptoms to Manage at Home

We decided to work on Patient Signs and Symptoms to Manage at Home. On the very first day of training, I was quite apprehensive. Our society in Ghana was one that strongly valued a hierarchy based on age and so as such, I was worried that some of the older caregivers may be affronted by my assuming I could teach them. Fortunately, my trepidation was misplaced. I could not have been more pleased by the outcome. Caregivers, both young and old, agreed to attend our training sessions. The Radiotherapy Department was kind enough to allow us the use of their conference room and my team and I served our participants beverages. We began our sessions at 10am, with an explanation of our project and introductions of all the individuals in the room. It was apparent that several of the caregivers recognized others from having spent time in the waiting area of the Radiotherapy Department but few had exchanged words till now.

It was extraordinary to see how little people actually knew of cancer. On many occasions, I was asked if cancer was contagious. Several of the caregivers also had thought that cancer was a communicable disease. According to many, the physicians and nurses seldom spoke to them about what was going on with their loved ones and so their limited understanding was a bricolage of information pieced together over time. I promised to communicate this concern and to serve as a conduit to the staff in the department. It was a joy to have the caregivers assail me with questions. For those I was unable to answer, I directed them to the appropriate resource.

One of the very first slides on my presentation stated:

“The care we give to self is directly proportional to the quality of care we are able to give others. All caregivers therefore need to accept the responsibility for self-care.” – A handbook of Palliative Care in Africa: African Palliative Care Association.

These simple statements resonated deeply with many caregivers. This is unsurprising since as many as 45% of the caregivers had stated that their role as caregiver interfere with their ability to have a normal family life. Additionally, 53% of the caregivers had mentioned that being a caregiver posed a financial burden for them.

(Continued in Part 2)

MountSinaiJan2013_169Efe “Chantal” Ghanney is an MD Candidate, Class of 2017

Ms. Ghanney’s summer research trip was funded by the The Arnhold Global Health Institute.

A Place for Narrative Medicine within Ophthalmology

Narrative medicine combines medical practice with humanism and art. One fourth-year medical student has co-founded an online publication that shares medical professionals and students reflections after treating patients who have suffered from opthalmological issues—through creative narratives. 
read more

Vision (1-3): Perception, Self-Awareness, and Fantasy

Vision (1-3) alludes to our naive fascination—an exploration of perception, self-awareness, and fantasy.
read more

Let’s Talk: Superwomen in Medicine

Conferred to medical students in their first year of training, the white coat is a symbol of professionalism that creates a sense of responsibility to become compassionate healers for those who wear it. We invited seven of our future women in medicine to share their personal journeys and thoughts about becoming a superwoman in a white coat. 
read more

Medical Students Advocate to #ProtectOurPatients

Medical students at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) are trained to be informed advocates, activists, and change-makers for their patients and society. A few ISMMS students joined the #ProtectOurPatients movement in Washington, DC to sound a clarion call for change.
read more

Medical Students Dare to Enter the Tank

To culminate InFocus 7, the Department of Medical Education designed the School's first #MedEdTank, allowing third-year medical students the opportunity to pitch health care process improvements to leaders of the Mount Sinai Health System—in "Shark Tank" fashion.
read more



Outside the wind tears

still-green leaves from their branches

pulling them up and off 

like a corn shucker

ripping husk from kernels.

read more

It Takes a Village to Raise a Drag Queen

Earlier this year, oSTEM at Mount Sinai and the Stonewall Alliance hosted the first Mount Sinai Charity Drag Race. As one of the organizers, I can honestly say that the inception of this event started as a joke. Hosting a drag competition at a Hospital/Graduate School/Medical School was a nice thought, but it would be an over the top event that we definitely didn’t have the means to bring it into fruition. Thinking of planning such an enormous event was a little intimidating, but we figured that we could gauge interest from the Mount Sinai Community. We were shocked by the enthusiasm we received, so we kept on rolling with the punches. 
read more

Shape the Times

On Thursday, September 13, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai celebrated its twenty-first annual White Coat Ceremony welcoming the Class of 2022. 
read more

Queer and Here: Leading Urban Youth with Pride

I was five years old when I knew for the first time that I was slightly... different. I had gotten into my mom’s closet, tried on her black strappy high heels, and found a beautiful dark red lipstick in her makeup bag. At the time, I thought that it was perfectly normally for any five year-old boy to strut up and down their parent’s bedroom in high heels, rocking the imaginary runway but alas— years later I discovered it wasn’t a shared experienced amongst my peers. 
read more


Over this past summer, after my first year of medical school, I decided to live in Fukushima for two months in order to understand how mental health is affected by large-scale disasters. My first days, and subsequent impressions, in Fukushima left me quite confused about its spirit and reputation.
read more

How to Save a Life: Confessions from the Front Line

As is the case with most medical schools, the institution at which I receive my medical education is home to a myriad of student interest groups for nearly every clinical specialty.There’s your standard fare of IMIG, PIG, and SIG (for internal medicine, pediatrics, and surgery respectively), but then there are a few that are a bit more esoteric, such as the Transplant Surgery Interest Group (TSIG).
read more

Race and Racism in Medicine: An Evening with Dr. Mary T. Bassett

When we invited Dr. Mary T. Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to speak about racism in the health care system at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), we knew that it would be a powerful conversation.
read more