The following was submitted by Kate Kelley, a second year medical student from the Northeast Ohio Medical University, Rootstown, OH, after her preceptorship experience:
“There is something undeniably peaceful and optimistic in knowing that, however long the journey, you made the right choice. Summer by its nature is refreshing – it is the reward we get for living through nine months of winter in Northeast Ohio. The summer after the first year of medical school was perhaps a special treat, a time when I could literally, and figuratively, see the light of day, after perhaps one of my most challenging and difficult years.
I came to medical school as a non-traditional student, a career changer with a public health bent, who was determined to pursue a career that I felt mattered. I wanted to practice in order to give back a little of the good fortune that has been bestowed upon me. I already entered medical school with an interest in primary care and family medicine, and so from day one, I have been attracted to the OAFP Foundation’s opportunity of a summer preceptorship in primary care at a federally qualified health center (FQHC). Yet, the idealism and positivity of my first week of school was heavily weighed down by the reality of medical education. The first year of medical school is more memorization then problem solving, more book learning then experience, and I, like many of my peers, was treading water to try and keep my head afloat. There were times in this academic pressure cooker, and over the late nights and early mornings of studying that I felt like I had made a mistake, that I did not belong in this field, and that my interest in service through medicine was not enough to get me through. During this struggle, I lost sight of my motivation for a drastic life and career change. Medical school became something I just needed to survive, and not a setting in which I could thrive.
When I first heard about the Leroy A. Rodgers, MD, Preceptorship Program, I could barely think what I was doing next week, let alone next summer. Yet the spark of family medicine still existed within me and was bright enough for me to apply. I chose a local FQHC, Neighborhood Family Practice (NFP), as the site of my preceptorship. NFP is a community health center which serves Cleveland’s near west side. It was perhaps the best decision I could have made to renew my interest and re-charge my batteries to get through my second year of medical school.
When you’re a medical student, you are so divorced from the practice of medicine that it is easy to forget your motivation for studying. By working at NFP, I was able to connect with practicing physicians who understood the slough of medical school. They gave me hope for a career where I could apply my book learning in the art of helping people to achieve real, tangible improved health outcomes. It allowed me to practice, to realize that anatomy, histology, biochemistry, and physiology matter in how I treat patients. It helped me realize that the parts of medical school I struggled with are just that, parts, and those struggles will eventually end, metamorphosing into a whole, fulfilling career.
This preceptorship served as the perfect educational and emotional complement to my education. It enabled me to find the joy in being a student and a future physician. It gave me a support system of physicians, nurses, medical assistants, behavioral health staff, and administrators to bounce ideas off of, to ask questions I felt I didn’t have time for during the year, and to provide a framework for how I see myself practicing after residency.
Before medical school existed, doctors learned by apprenticing with older, wiser physicians. My experiences at NFP echoed that time honored tradition of learning by doing. My preceptorship experience renewed my interest and commitment to reaching my goal of being a competent, compassionate family physician.”
Have you ever heard a medical student story like this one?
This is just one student’s story of a lasting impression gained from participation in the Foundation’s Leroy A. Rodgers, MD, Preceptorship Program. How cool is that?! Students are finding that confirmation that each of you did during medical school that family medicine is where they belong. With your support, we can continue to make these impressions and increase student interest in the specialty of family medicine! It’s an impact that truly is priceless!
Imagine if each OAFP member made a year-end donation, how many medical students would be impacted!