Baylor College of Medicine medical students joined their peers from throughout the country in celebrating Patient Solidarity Week, held Feb. 15-19.
Started by the National Gold Humanism Honor Society as a day of appreciation for patients, the event has now turned into a weeklong expression of gratitude. At Baylor, there were two initiatives – Veterans Appreciation Day and the Tell Me More campaign. Organized by Baylor’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, both initiatives focused on building a connection between healthcare providers and patients.
“These events are so important for everyone involved,” said fourth-year medical student Rachel Taylor, one of the organizers. “For the patients, it is important that they realize that we as medical students appreciate how much they contribute to our education. Additionally, it is vital that the patients feel as if the healthcare team sees them as individuals with wonderful aspects of their lives to bring to the table, not just their disease, injury, or illness.
“For the medical students, it is so easy to fall prey to being preoccupied in clinic. We must not lose the humanistic qualities with which we started medical school. It is imperative that we take the time to talk to our patients and have those moments of connecting with them personally in their times of greatest need. Memories like those made during Patient Solidarity Week will hopefully continue to fuel a bedside manner that embodies the art of medicine.”
Veterans Appreciation Day, held on Feb. 17, allowed GHHS members and other students to show gratitude not only for the veterans’ service but for contributing to students’ training. Students share treats and refreshments donated by local businesses, including French Corner Bakery, Fiesta and the Kolache Factory.
The Tell Me More campaign is aimed at connecting students and other healthcare professionals with patients in a more personal way. Students talk to hospitalized patients to find out more about their lives. They ask questions like, “What are your strengths? How would your friends describe you? and “What is most important in your life?” The students leave sticky notes in the patients’ rooms with key words or phrases about the patients for other healthcare providers to see. This serves as reminder that each patient is a unique individual with a full life outside of the hospital, Taylor said.
“One of our patients during Veterans Appreciation Day had so many incredible stories to tell,” Taylor said. “He participated in a great deal of building the medical center into what it is today. It was phenomenal to hear about the development of the TMC through his eyes. He was a wonderful individual who shared so many different parts of his life with us so willingly and joyfully.
“Another one of our veterans, a Marine, started crying tears of joy. He said that we made his week by coming by his room, sharing treats and taking the time to chat. His laugh was absolutely contagious. This made me want to implement something similar in my daily practice of medicine so that I can not only bring healing, but also bring joy,” she said.
-By Dana Benson