1)With my STEP funds, I was able to receive my phlebotomist technician license through a course throughout the summer, as well as purchase the necessary uniform and school supplies. Once back at school, I was able to use this skill as a research assistant, collecting blood samples to evaluate immune function biomarkers in these young adults and the impact homelessness can have on mental health.
2)Working at a youth homeless shelter definitely changed my perspective. I was opened up and spent time meeting a diversity of people in a population very different than my own. I was exposed to what some kids my own age go through every day right here in my own community. My scope of medicine was changed as I saw the scope of medicine being practiced in a different setting. The results from the study also showed the impact that these daily stressors have on health, changing my perspective.
3)My time wasn’t defined by clinical experience alone. Rather, the time I was outside the medical office shaped my experience at the Star House. A drop-in shelter for homeless youth, the place, and the experience it provided was wholly personal. I began to see familiar faces of people who had already participated in data collection, and I was able to pick up conversations where we left off.
One boy around my age excitedly hurried off, as the Star House (pictured below) provided him with a bus pass for a job interview he had told me about. Another girl asked me detailed questions about the path I was pursuing and all of the interesting experiences Ohio State had given me. Her goal, she said, was to go to nursing school. I frequently saw a young mother, looking exhausted as her two year old jumped out of his stroller and toddled over to me. As I spent time getting to know these people, I acquired a different perspective on medicine, one that had been overshadowed by images of procedures and technologies. I found that medicine stems from building genuine relationships.
The people you treat come with different stories, backgrounds, and struggles. I was able to hear about adverse lifestyles that different youth go through everyday. Not having access to transportation, food, housing and a secure family were typical at the Star House. Taking the time to interact and understand each patient is a joy and a privilege I got to experience and opened up and changed my perspective of medicine as stated above.
4) This change is important for me as I want to work with youth as a health professional. Seeing how lifestyle factors can impact health is important. These factors are integrated with health and taking the time to understand patient lifestyle and stressors in key in treating health. Additionally, my communication skills greatly improved which allowed me the opportunity to learn how to get to know people and develop deep relationships with people. As a future professional, learning how to connect with people is highly important. Additionally, having the skill of treating diverse populations is highly important. Medicine serves a diversity of people, and having experience relating and empathizing with those different from yourself is important.