My experience leading SCOPE for over four years has been truly transformative. SCOPE is unique in that it is a student-led non-profit, and as such I have learned how to not only sail a non-profit ship, but more importantly to maintain the ship and ensure its sustainability and safety for the long term. I’m very grateful to the generosity of the individual donors for making this partnership possible. This experience has set a strong foundation for my future work as a non-profit leader and aspiring physician.

 

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As a SCOPEr, we act as the eyes and ears of the hospital staff. At times when there is limited help available, our contributions allow the physicians to dedicate their undivided attention to the patient. In doing so, a SCOPEr serves in the common effort of helping the patient. The gratitude expressed by nurses that I helped through interpreting, as well as from the doctors I was able to assist, are further examples of the way SCOPErs can have a truly meaningful presence in the hospital.

 

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The people who inspire me the most are the patients at SCVMC. A simple “Thank you” from patients makes 9-hours shifts all worth it. Often times they thank me for small gestures such as grabbing the attention of the nurse for them or sitting down for 5 minutes to talk about their life. As an interpreter, I have the privilege of being their voice when speaking with the physician or nurse. Their expression of gratitude reminds me why I am constantly working hard on my path to becoming a doctor.

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This SCOPE shift was the first time I had come to realize that my return to Uganda would mean much more if I not only used my skills and expertise as a doctor to treat the sick but also incorporated health-care systems management given my experience in the much more efficient system in the United states.

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Beyond the science and purpose of medical procedures, the doctor shared some insights into medical school… He made an effort to get to know me and my reasons for wanting to pursue medicine. His interest in his coworkers is very evident as he kept checking in with his team to see if anyone needed anything. His team very clearly enjoyed working with him because of his playful demeanor and his willingness to teach Dr. X provided an example of the type of physician I hope to be.

 

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SCOPE member

This SCOPE shift made me realize how excited I am to incorporate principles that I have learned as a student- always be on your toes and ready to learn, take initiative, and show leadership, teamwork, and be willing to collaborate- into my journey as a hopeful medical doctor. Medicine, I believe, will bring out the best in me and help me develop qualities that I have not even developed yet, and for that reason, I am excited to become a doctor.

 

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Written by Jenny Chen This past week, we went to Royal Seed Home, an orphanage home to 120 children, located about an hour away drive from our house. We and the social workers, Florence, Grace, Harinu, and Abe worked from 9AM to 4PM from Monday to Friday, tracking each child, transporting them from one station to the next, interviewing them formally and informally, and scanning all of documents in their files. Because there are only three social workers interviewing at a time, the children would line up and wait for their turn and we, the interns, had the opportunity to interact with them. Many of the children had marks that resembled white scabs intended into their legs and arms. Flies would land on the babies until someone swatted them away. One boy limped the entire time, his ankle completely swollen and covered in blood. Almost all of the children were soft-spoken and shy, but once or twice a smile would flash across their faces, whether it was when they posed for the camera, or when the interns gave them high-fives after their interviews. At first, it was difficult to communicate with them. I tried asking them questions like what their favorite fruit was or what their favorite Ghanian dish was, and sometimes the children replied, with lips barely moving, whispering “mango” or “jollof”. My interactions at the beginning felt simple, hollow, and empty. I stopped asking straightforward questions, and instead found ways to engage the kids through children’s games. While the kids were waiting for their interviews, we played rock-paper-scissors, Miss Mary Mack, and drew pictures on a whiteboard to form stories. The children quickly opened up, talking and laughing, and headed to their interviews in smiles. After our fourth day at the orphanage, we successfully interviewed all the children and scanned all of their documents, and on the last day, the children of the orphanage performed a Ghanian dance for us. After their performance, we spent an hour hanging out with them – playing soccer and Ampe, a Ghanian game where two people jump in rhythm. I held a baby boy for the first time. When we had to leave after bonding with the kids for the past hour, it was difficult to say bye to them, knowing that I won’t see them ever again. This feeling of melancholy, something that we had been warned against during our training, grew fainter and fainter as our bus drove further away from the orphanage, and became replaced with hope, hope that we made a difference to the lives of these kids, hope that the interviews and CPQs open new doors for the children, and hope that ways of care other than the orphanage will be found for them, regardless of how long it will take.

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By Wendy Bravo

I felt that my services as a Spanish translator were extremely helpful today, more than they ever have been previously. Dr. X mentioned how he couldn’t really find the logic in not having interpreters over the weekend, when the hospital can get real busy, and many Spanish and Vietnamese-speaking patients come in. I felt almost as if I were the doctor at times, since the patients look to me when I answer their questions or clarify what the doctor had just told them. I felt that through my services as an interpreter I could help with the number of cases coming in. Dr. X was very grateful and it made me feel good that I was able to really be of service. About half-way through my shift, someone called my name through the intercom! I know it is probably really cheesy, but I felt important because I knew I wasn’t just following a doctor around, feeling like an invisible person. I was an important contributor to the ER.

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By Peter Ballard

Pain management is a concept with which I’ve struggled with.  How can you tell when someone is lying to you to obtain pain medication? Is it important to identify when this is the case, or is it more important to avoid the chance of turning someone away in pain? Must I bifurcate? So far, I have not seen a single case in which pain medication was withheld by a doctor at SCVMC. I’m naturally empathetic and I suspect that people could easily take advantage of me when I become a doctor if they are capable actors. I’m not sure if this is something to be concerned about or not. I suppose that I do not care whether I’m taken advantage of…but is it in the best interest of my future patients?  Does this enable those who are addicted and prevent recovery? I’m still unsure where the balance lies. Pain is such an individual experience, how do I know when pain is real?

Though i am confounded, watching patients in pain today in the ED was more difficult than in the past and pushed me to reflect on my assumptions about pain. Twenty-five minutes after receiving pain medication, our kidney stone patient was feeling much better, and thirty minutes after she was laughing and joking. The contrast was striking and encouraging. Watching the transformation in a patients demeanor was satisfying and I could tell it was needed.  The chance to relieve suffering, even temporarily is motivating. Watching her slip back into pain a few hours later was frustrating, but inevitable. This I could tell was real pain.

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By Mischa Li

It struck me today just how costly healthcare really is.  For something as simple as the doctor coming and checking you out and telling you that you have an upper respiratory infection and need to stay home and drink plenty of fluids, you must pay over $1000.  Where does all that money go?  Certainly not the staff — I remember looking at bills from my primary healthcare provider, and visits were around $500, lab tests around $200.  Does it really cost that much to take care of people?  What’s making the price so high?  Doctors in other countries can take care of their patients for much less, so what’s so different about the U.S.?  Is the private insurance system causing the problem (because universal healthcare would be more efficient and cost-effective)?  It’s actually an interesting problem that I think would be worth addressing in SCOPE somehow.  So many people go bankrupt each year just from paying medical bills; it would be good to somehow figure out ways to bring the costs down.

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