Thank you, Peds

Throughout my third year, I’ve found that my skills of communication have existed in two separate spheres when I’m in the hospital. On one end is my ability to understand and communicate medical knowledge to the rest of the team. I’ve become adept at gathering information during pre-rounds and forming a picture of the patient and their situation in my own mind, but that next step was being able to synthesize those nuggets of information into a story to relay to the team. That story should create a journey through the patient’s chart, using labs and imaging and history to guide the listener to my assessment and plan. I’ve felt this ability improving throughout the year, and in comparing my presentations from summer 2019 to now, I can feel that narrative ability really solidifying itself.

On the other end of the spectrum was the relationships I formed with patients. Especially on my pediatric rotations, I’ve felt a real skill in being able to effectively communicate with and provide comfort to my patients. I really enjoy being able to transport my patients out of the hospital for at least a few minutes as I take a break from rounds and play games with them, talk about the latest cartoons, or admire their drawings. It’s something I never planned to take pride in or enjoy as much as I do, but I look forward to that time every day and want to continue working with kids as I begin to plan my future. This has impacted my plans for a career in emergency medicine as it is now being modified with the potential for a pediatric fellowship.

A thank-you card I received from a pediatric patient.

I think the final step in building these types of communication skills was the integration of medical knowledge with the patient-provider relationship. One of my attendings told me that the hardest part of his day is explaining complex medical problems in terms that patients can understand and identify with. I took that to heart and have really been working to communicate my assessment and plans with patients effectively. Especially at Nationwide, where patient-centered rounds are such an integral part of the daily routine, I have made an intentional effort to relate medical knowledge in such a way that patients can fully understand their situation. As an MCAT instructor, I understand and appreciate the mantra of “if you can’t teach it, you don’t know it well enough”. I take great pride in my assessments and plans when I know them well enough to explain them fully in layman terms, and can seamlessly switch between answering pathophysiology questions from an attending and elaborating on medication changes for patients. I think the intersection of medicine and patient care is so dependent on our ability to communicate this medical knowledge. It is one skill that I am continuing to work on as I plan for a career in a pediatric-focused specialty.