Clerkship - End of Week 1
This week has flown by, I've had to reassess, as I somehow often find myself doing, all the thing I planned to accomplish during this 2 week stretch without classes or homework. Finding balance in medical school is an amazing challenge in this landscape that is constantly changing face and pace. Something tells me not much will change post-graduation so really it's about learning to be agile and enjoying the changes and being comfortable dealing with uncertainty. My goals for these two weeks include catching up on pleasure reading, writing, extra curricular commitments, and the biggest one: writing a detailed report about my summer in Malawi that is long overdue. So, it's Friday and one week is coming to an end and I haven't made too much progress on those goals but I have been having a lot of fun!
Yesterday we spent the day with the Worcester VNA (Visiting Nurses Association). We attended the patient review in the morning, during which they reviewed all patients they have interacted with in the past couple weeks and chiming in were the relevant nurses, social worker, nurse manager, and physician. It was very similar to what we experienced at the UMASS hospice service earlier in the week. In the past and for a long time UMASS and VNA were the main hospice providers in the Worcester area but now there are several smaller organizations popping up providing these services but we have been exposed to the two biggest ones. Perhaps my favorite part of these weekly or bi-weekly meetings is the reflection, reading, and remembrance of patients who have passed since the last meeting. It's a wonderful way to start a meeting and allows for checking in with yourself and bringing awareness to your feelings concerning your patient. Sometimes if a particular passing is difficult for someone, they are able to say a prayer, give a reading, and ritually drop a stone in a tank to bring closure and healing.
After that meeting we drove over to the Rose Monahan Hospice Home that is a home the VNA offers for people to live in for hospice care. When we walked in I was struck by the warmth and peaceful environment that had been created. It felt as so I was in a cozy lodge where I would love to curl up by the window over looking the pond or by a fire and read a book. There were 10 private rooms available with all the appropriate staff. They carefully created the kind of environment to make you feel less like a patient away from home and more like a person living comfortably. There are some challenges in using these homes for patients in terms of expense, although it is cheaper to stay there than in a nursing home. I imagine it's also hard for someone to live somewhere where people are dying every day and it's hard to establish a relationship.
Today we visited the Elder Services of Worcester, one of several arms of elder care services funded by the state. We learned about what they offer and also heard specifically about the elder LGBT community and the progress they have been trying to make with them in identifying those that require services and providing appropriate care.
It's been an educational week to say the least and I am all of a sudden aware of so much more than I was previously regarding end of life care. I feel both overwhelmed and optimistic. Meeting such dedicated, wonderful people only serves to renew my excitement and drive to be a physician.
4/10/2012 01:49:40 am
I have heard about Elder Services of Worcester. I hope I will also visit it.
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