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Today’s Saturday Academy was reviewing the next cohort’s applications and going to the WELLS center for communication practice.
When I first heard that we were going to review applications submitted for this year’s UPP, I neither looked forward toward it nor did I feel like it was going to be torture. To my surprise, it has been one of the most beneficial sections of Saturday Academy for me. At first, when we were given about 10-15 minutes per application, I was able to pick through the details of the application, but I would still find positive points in each applicant that I would try to advocate for them. Going thoroughly through each application, I made a list of things I should never put in my own applications. For example, cliché statements don’t make my essays sound better, they just make me sound like everyone else. Another thing I learned was that creative writing is not good writing for applications, my essays should describe who I am in the limited amount of space I have without any fluff to fill the space. I should not just list out my community service or work experience in essays, because my resume already does that; I need to talk about how those services have affected me and helped me grow as a person. I found further skills I needed to develop when we were only give 7 minutes to review an application. If I cannot impress my reviewer in the first page of my application, I might as well as not have filled out the rest of it. When I apply to dental school, my reviewers will have to look over thousands of applications, they don’t have time to make excuses for my GPA or lack of community service. Overall, I realized that every line I fill into my application is reflective of who I am, so I have to make worth of every line I am given.
The second part of the afternoon was spent in the WELLS center. My first session was practicing giving bad news to a patient. I also learned many “what-not-to-do’s” in this session by the errors of myself, and the errors of the other groups. You should always let the patient talk out their feelings or give them a few seconds of silence to cope with what is happening, rather than trying to fill the empty space because you are uncomfortable with the silence. I worked in the scenario where I had to inform a diabetic patient that even though she has followed the doctor’s recommendations, her leg has to be amputated. The patient appreciated that my partner and I kept her from going on a downward spiral towards depression by assuring her that she could still live a normal life with a prosthetic. I feel that this was my favorite part of the day because I feel better prepared for interviews. The interviewees could pose questions like, “How would you deliver the news to your patient that they have oral cancer?” I have already practiced a similar situation, rather than just answering it vaguely of what I suppose would happen. When I answer questions like that on applications, I assume the patient will be completely receptive to what I have to say, but today my patient challenged everything I said and I had to work through that. The second session at the WELLS center was working with the stimulation models and learning about communication within your team and with your patient. We learned the about the SBAR format of communication and closed loop communication within the medical team. I wish we could have practiced the stimulation twice because the time we did it was very hectic. It was the first time we could work with the equipment, models, and each other. If we could have done it again, our communication would have improved dramatically and checking vital signs would have been much quicker once we were acquainted with the process.
Evaluated 2013 cohort applicants
Spend the day at the Wells center
Evaluation of applicants:
For the first half of the Saturday academy, we took time to evaluate the applicants that applied to the UPP this year. There are many reasons why this was truly a really great experience. First, I got to see what kinds of activities other students are getting involved in, and how they distinguish themselves as an individual. It’s not to say that I need to necessarily be involved in the same things, or become more like them, but it has strengthened my resolve to really evaluate myself the same way I evaluated these students, and reflect upon what distinguishes me from the rest of the applicants. Moreover, it is absolutely necessary that I am able to communicate what exactly it is that distinguishes me from the rest of the crowd. Second, I realized how many students lack the ability to reflect upon their different experiences. We are the sum of our experiences, but if you are not able to articulate why your experiences sum up to who you are, then neither will the reviewed. In fact, ever since I met up with Medhat, I have been constantly reflecting on why I choose to participate in the things I do. Is it because I am trying to look better on paper, or is it because I want to learn and grow through different experiences? To answer this, I realized that for many of the applicants, it appeared that they tried to look good on paper, and I started to realize that I could potentially be coming across that way as well. Furthermore, I found myself turning these individuals down simply because they did not really reflect about what makes them who they are. Knowing someone has a 4.0 GPA can, without a doubt, tell you something about an applicant, but now that I have gotten the chance to evaluate these applications, I realized that there is so much more the reviewer wants to know than just the simple surface level facts about you. I have come to the conclusion that it is not about how “good” your application is, but how unique the individual is compared to the rest of the applicants that will not only make you a successful candidate for a professional program, but also gives you a sense of identity in the world. For this reason, I will continue to reflect upon my experiences because they have molded who I am. I know I bring something unique to the table, and its important that anyone on the other side of my application is able to understand that.
The second half of the day was spent at the Wells Center. This was probably one of the most awesome things that I have ever done. I got the chance to work in an emergency room situation, and practice common form of communication that is practiced within the healthcare field. Along with that, we all got to take turns engaging in mock appointments with patients to inform them of their current situation. Within these four hours, I got to experience more about what communication is like in healthcare than I had ever before. More importantly, I realized how important it is to have strong communication skills when both interacting with fellow coworkers as well as patients. When put in these situations, our critical thinking skills were put to the test. I learned the most about myself from the mock appointment because it really exercised my mind to critical think like a healthcare professional would. When thrown into the situation of informing a patient of bad news, there are so many aspects that go into interaction with the patient. You have to be able to read body language, know when to let the patient process what you’re telling them, and most importantly, know when to be straight-forward with the situation versus empathetic and caring. It’s one thing to know what exactly to say, but it’s a whole other dynamic when deciding when to say it. When I was in the heat of the moment and telling the patient that she had 4 months to live, I was able to articulate exactly what I wanted to tell the patient in a clear and concise way, while at the same time, being wary of the patient’s feelings. This is because I have really taken some time to think about something Medhat told me: what you say is not always what you mean, but rather, more of what people make of it. I really took this statement to heart, and kept reminding myself as the conversation proceeded that I need to remove myself from my own limited view, and put myself in the patient’s shoes. By doing this, I was able to better understand what the patient was hearing from my words, and therefore, able to communicate on the patient’s level. Overall, in order to effectively communicate with not only patients, but anyone and everyone you interact with, you need to speak their language. In order to speak their language, as cliche as it may sound, you have to remove yourself from your own mind, and communicate with the individual in the unique language they understand based on who they are. As far as things that could have made the day more effective is if we had the chance to put what we learned to the test. I’m sure we all learned so much, and I would have liked to take what I learned and apply it to a different situation.
Today’s saturday academy was split into two sections. During one session, we helped to evaluate some of the applicants for the new cohort. This was a useful and eye-opening exercise because we were able to experience first-hand what someone should and should not do in order to get into the UPP program. I was able to use this information and will be able to apply it as I continue to apply for scholarships and ultimately for my personal statement for medical school. Through this experience, we saw directly how imperative it is to edit and re-read essays in order to remove any typos and grammatical errors. Otherwise, it is difficult to the reader to take the applicant seriously. Furthermore, it is important to think carefully about who you ask to write a recommendation letter. We saw many letters where the name of the program was incorrect or where the date was unchanged from before. This is unfortunate because it discredits the recommender, and hurts the credibility of the applicant even though they have absolutely no control of this. It truly pays to carefully select someone who is trustworthy to write the letter of recommendation. There were many great essays as well; however, some had excellent narrative that lacked relation to the prompt. Sometimes, an applicant would draw the reader in, which is difficult to do, but did not relate the narrative to why this made them a good candidate for UPP or why they chose that specific career choice. I was able to see just how important it is to tie everything together and surprisingly, I found that was what made the essay stand out from the others. The second half of the day was such an incredible experience for me! I was excited to do something other than the administrative work that we had been doing before. We spent time at the Well’s Center and it was this experience that made this Saturday academy the best that we’ve ever had! We participated in an activity that put us in different scenarios where we each had to deliver bad news to a patient. This was unbelievably eye-opening. I think everyone who plans to go into a health career knows that they will someday be in a tough situation where they will have to deliver difficult, life-changing news to a patient, and sometimes we even play out skits in UPP. Nothing, and I mean nothing comes close to actually telling a person whom you have never met before that they have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and that they have only four months to live, even if it is only a skit. Being able to show compassion and to look a patient in the eye when delivering awful news is difficult, and we were all able to feel what it’s like to be in this situation or situations like it. I know it will be even harder when I have to do the real thing, but I actually feel like I am better prepared, and it showed me that I actually prefer being able to counsel and interact with patients in this way rather than performing surgery. This made me think about how fortunate I am that I have never had to hear such sad news and that I have never before had to deliver it. We also got to focus on the importance of team work while working with a simulation mannequin. This was so much fun because the mannequin is almost like a real human because it has a pulse, tells you when it’s in pain and allows you to offer him medication. Honestly today was fantastic, I wish I could go back to the Well’s Center more often. I’m definitely grateful for this opportunity.
This week’s Saturday Academy was particularly fun and engaging because of the trip to the WELLS Center. I wasn’t sure what the WELLS Center was going to be like, but it definitely exceeded my expectations. For the first simulation, I worked with a group in treating a mannequin, named Atticus, who was incredibly functional for medical simulations. I was surprised by how realistic Atticus appeared and that he could actually have IV fluids run through his arm and drain into a collection bag.
For my group’s scenario, Atticus was in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) after having undergone an appendectomy. We were all given separate roles, and I took on the role as one of the two residents responsible for the patient. To begin the simulation, two of the nurses notified Chi and me about the patient’s increasing pain. As soon as I walked in the room, there were several different issues that were important and needed to be taken care of fairly quickly. Atticus’ pain level was up so he needed pain medication, his oxygen saturation levels were dropping (requiring him to use a partial non-rebreather mask), and after he was given the pain medication his blood pressure fell quickly (requiring IV fluids). All of these tasks were a little overwhelming, but my group managed to maintain good communication so that we worked through everything as a team. I feel like we could have communicated better if we all tried to adopt the SBAR technique and/or practiced closed-loop communication more often. These communication strategies were simply difficult to remember while already being in a novel situation. I believe that with further practice, these techniques could be very useful in promoting teamwork and minimizing errors. Overall, this simulation was very fun and proved to be a great learning experience.
The next activity I took part in at the WELLS Center was equally important. The second simulation consisted of students in groups of two entering rooms with mock patients or family members and delivering bad news. One scenario that seemed particularly challenging was telling a young, asymptomatic woman that her cancer came back. She then needed to be told that she only had four months to live. It was obvious that the students delivering this news were being challenged to do so in the best way possible, but they did a good job at being sensitive. For my scenario, I had to inform a woman who has been loyally married to her husband for several years that she has gonorrhea (indicating that her husband was seeing someone else). This was difficult to discuss knowing that if this were a real scenario, giving a patient this news could end a marriage and make her feel terrible for awhile. These simulations made me realize the challenges involved in delivering bad news to a patient or family, and it is unfortunate that I will need to do that at some point in my future career.
The final event for the day was reviewing the next UPP cohort’s applications. Going through these applications was beneficial because I now have a better vision of how I will be perceived by medical school admission’s committees when they read my application. It also taught me what makes applications stand out and what makes them weak.
Breaking the traditional, bifurcated curriculum that is standard of most Saturday Academies, this Saturday Academy encouraged fellow participation in 2013-2014 UPP cohort application evaluations and medical & clinical simulations. The morning began with reviewing UPP cohort applications for the 2013-1014 cohort. Although monotonous at first look, this time was both intriguing and edifying. I learned how to: (1) better tailor my essays to the prompt(s), (2) better engage the essay reader, (3) better present myself in a paper application. For example, I am now aware of how my personality traits, good or bad, seep through my writing. In the afternoon, the UPP fellows went to the WELLS center for clinical & medical simulations. The first simulation I was in was set in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). I assumed the role of the observer, observing and recording each team member’s actions and the effect of their actions on the scenario. I learned two very useful communication techniques when placed in said situation: SBAR communication, literally meaning Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation and closed-loop communication. Both of these communication techniques are pivotal to the infrastructure of the medical industry, and I am glad that I learned these techniques before enrolling and matriculating into medical school. In the second simulation, I played the role of a physician. Partnered with the lovely Dr. Roda, we were responsible for informing a married woman that she had contracted gonorrhea from her unfaithful husband. This situation was particularly difficult as the woman ranted on Dr. Roda and I about how she is going to “burn his stuff on the lawn” and “call a divorce lawyer.” This situation, albeit difficult, taught me how to deliver unfortunate news to a seemingly innocent person. In retrospect, this Saturday Academy was my favorite Saturday academy; it was truly edifying and wholly educational.
What a wonderful Saturday Academy. Our first half of the day was spent on a new side of the UPP application process. This was quite an eye-opening experience. The second half of the day was spend in the Wells Center where we did a lot of medical simulations. Although it was the longest Saturday Academy that we have experienced, it went by the fastest.
We started out this Saturday Academy with looking at other students’ applications for the 2013-14 UPP program. This gave us an opportunity to see what our competition was like last year and what other students wrote on their applications, which allowed us to see the positives and negatives and be able to apply that to our own future applications. The one aspect of many applications that shocked me was the letter of recommendation. The letters of recommendation represent the applicants yet these letters are not directly written by the applicants. It was shocking to see how many applicants had decent-to-great applications but poor letters of recommendation. This made me immediately think of how important it is to choose wisely on this aspect of applications, on who you ask to write them and on what you ask them to evaluate you.
The simulations at the Wells Center were much more realistic than I expected them to be. One of the simulations that I had to do was to act as a doctor having to approach a patient (a voluntary actor) and inform her that she tested positive for a STD that must have been transmitted from her husband. Because the setting and the actor were both unknown, this situation seemed very real, and it was certainly hard to inform the actor of this sad news. Another simulation I took part in took place in an emergency room with a 19-year-old patient who had just gotten his appendix taken out. This was quite realistic as the patient was a doll that had many features that were lifelike: light, sensitive blinking eyes; the ability to speak; and changes in temperature and oxygen readings.
Once again, thank you UPP for such a great experience.
This Saturday’s academy was very enjoyable. Starting the day at the simulation lab was a great experience. It was interesting to see that even though my commitment is being a nurse, being put in that situation is not as easy as one might think. Overall, my group did well in our simulation. Our patient had just come out of surgery and needed monitoring until he could go to a room. We had good communication but at times, it could have been better. There were times were it seemed as no one knew what to do, but due to it being our first time acting out a hospital scenario we did well. Afterwards, we sat down and discussed the good and bad portions of our set-up. The fact that David performed the role of observer, gave us insight from a student perspective of what went right and what improvements would help for the next time. The de-briefing process is very helpful in any situation as it gives insight after everyone expresses his or her comments. The second half of the morning pertained of being place in different scenarios as doctors to tell people of different situations. This is actually a hard thing to do, as you must show the proper compassion and information to patients or their families. After the situation, the person acting as patient/family member came into our circle to give us their comments on how we did. It was beneficial that people, who did not know us, gave insight to how we behaved in these situations. It was a surprise at how comfortable I was telling a family member that their mother had brain cancer and there was nothing else to treat her. This could be a very difficult situation to explain to someone yet doctors have to do this every day. Even though my place is not a doctor, I know that giving some of my time, concern, and compassion to someone who will experience this will benefit them, even if it is for a short time, can hopefully help them to deal with their situation.
The second half of academy was looking over applicants for this year’s cohort. This process was interesting because it put us in a place to see what future potential cohorts must show. This experience helped us to understand that even though you might personally know someone, you must look at the information presented to decide his or her qualifications. This could also roll into our professional career. There could come a time where you need to treat a patient that you know in the outside world yet do not get along with them. You must learn to put your personal feelings aside and look at the information they present (their symptoms to their illness) to treat them successfully. No one will ever get along with everyone in this world but always remember to stay professional and treat everyone fair.
In this month’s Saturday Academy we went to the WELLS center to do various activities and we also reviewed the future cohort’s applications. Going to the WELLS center was such an amazing experience! We got to work in a simulation lab using a mannequin and other medical equipment/technology to work out a scenario. Another activity we did was delivering bad news to mock patients. The main goals of these activities were to learn and understand more about communication skills and practice our critical thinking. Both are very important skills to know in the medical field. Many errors that occur in the clinical setting are due to miscommunication. Using correct communication skills will minimize errors, which is ideal in patient care. A very important communication skill I learned was SBAR communication, which is a closed loop communication. SBAR stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. This skill is important in making communication clear between you and the colleagues. With the skills we learned, we put them to the test in the simulation lab.
In the simulation lab, the other fellows and I took on different roles to play out our scenarios. The roles we played were physicians, respiratory therapist, observer, and nurses. I decided to be one of the nurses since that’s the field I’m going into. The scenario we worked with was about a patient named David who was in the Post-Anesthesia Unit (PACU) after undergoing surgery to get his appendix out. I think our team did great with working together, but there were points in the scenario where we lacked communication, for instance not telling each other what the situation is with the patient. I really appreciated the debrief after we did the scenario. We discussed what we did well and where we struggled. I think debriefing is such an important aspect to this activity because it’s where we can talk about our mistakes and learn from them together. I wish we could have gone back and done the scenario after the debrief because it would have been beneficial. This activity was so important to me because strong communication skills are needed in a nurse. Nurses are like the “bridge” between the doctor and the patient. It is so important to communicate with the doctor especially during orders to make sure the right actions are being taken. It is also important to communicate with the doctor about what is going on with a situation so they are not out of the loop. Nurses are the advocates for their patients, so we hold a strong position between the patient and the doctor. This activity made me more aware that I need more practice with communicating efficiently by using the skills I learned. I also realized that I need to be less nervous.
The next activity we did was delivering bad news to mock patients. At first I thought we would be delivering the news to the mannequins or each other, but I was very surprised that we would be working out these situations with real people who were volunteers. The scenario I received was breaking bad news to a young woman whose disease had progressed, had no other therapeutic options, and only had 4 more months to live. This news was difficult to deliver. I was quite nervous being on the spot in this situation with not much time beforehand to think about what to say. I had to be aware that in real life situations I wouldn’t have much time to develop a specific speech. After the scenario we talked about what went good and bad. The volunteer had said she felt detached when we delivered her the bad news. I agreed that we didn’t seem very supportive and we lacked compassion, but I wasn’t sure whether or not I was allowed to sit next to the patient and give her comfort or where the boundaries lied. Overall I realized that I needed more practice on how to speak with patients and what to do in situations like this. I need to think fast and efficiently. I also realized that I would gain these skills as time passes and when I go through experiences during clinicals. I must not be afraid to deliver news or be nervous to talk to patients-I need to grow and learn to be professional since my job will be to help others.
Later in the afternoon we got to review the next cohorts applications. I thought this was kind of hard because I would like every one of the applicants to experience this program. I believe it will benefit them and help them grow as a person. But I have to look at this situation in a professional matter and consider their qualifications. I think this helped all of us understand a general gist of any application process and what people are looking for in their candidates. Reviewing applications was also important to understand that any of these anonymous students might possibly be our future colleagues or even our future competition one day. In my head I was also comparing my application to the present applications. This helped me learn what I lacked in my application and where I can improve in next time I’m applying for something. But this is a positive thing, we are learning for the future and for ourselves.
This has been my favorite Saturday Academy of the entire year. I really enjoyed spending the day at the WELLS Center and working on simulations with staff and volunteers. There were two activities that we did: Patient interaction simulations with the fourth year emergency medicine resident and a simulation with a “high-tech” mannequin. My favorite of these two activities was the patient interaction. In this activity, volunteers from the community were chosen to act as patients as we told them about what conditions affected them and how their lives would be permanently changed. Ericka and I were in a case where a married woman was diagnosed with gonorrhea. She was in a monogamous relationship and the main point of the case was having the patient deal with the fact that her husband had cheated on her. I must say that the acting on behalf of the volunteers was superb. I was actually very nervous even though I know sufficiently about this STI. Naturally, my nerves got the best of me at some points and I said some things that I should have just not. The advice that the resident gave us was to just close our mouths while patients are upset about what has just been revealed to them. This makes sense because during this time patients are not paying attention to us anyway. I also learned something extremely important that I had been wrong about my entire life. Before Saturday, it was to my knowledge that health care professionals are supposed to be detached from patients’ lives. I thought there was some sort of barrier that prevented professionals from showing emotion, but I was wrong. The resident said that it was okay to cry or display affection in front of patients. She added that it would even help patients feel more welcome because they are able to see that their providers care and are not just mean people who bring bad news. Of course, I must still try to hold myself together when I am a PA because I am very sensitive and tend to become emotionally invested in everything. The other activity was an actual medical simulation complete with medical equipment and a mannequin. The mannequin was very interesting: It has light-sensitive pupils that dilate or constrict, a pulse, and can speak. I had to overcome my fear of dolls to work. All jokes aside, I actually enjoyed this activity and learned quite a bit. I played the role of a respiratory therapist in a post-operation case of a young man who had received an appendectomy. I was called into the patient’s room when the nurses observed that he had problems breathing. I felt a bit comfortable because I did not have the medical knowledge to be able to react accordingly. Instead, I just stood there waiting for the facilitator to tell me what to say or suggest to the doctors. Honestly, I think this was the biggest flaw of this particular simulation, but I understand that the overall goal of the activity was to utilize SBAR (situation, background, assessment, recommendation) communication, which is proven to improve efficacy around patients (but to me it just sounds a bit robotic). Apparently, this model is the standard around campus and the hospitals. It sounds hard to believe because it is so much work, but I can see how it can get easier if I continue working on it.
If I had to improve one thing about the visit to the WELLS Center, it would be going in to the simulations for a second time. This would involve us applying the knowledge we have gained from mistakes and what we did well in order to see how a second simulation would run. Of course, due to time constraints, this is difficult. It would be interesting to see the impact of limiting discussion would have on our experiences though.
The second half of the day was spent reviewing UPP applications. To be honest, I thought this was boring, but I was glad to be able to help out Dré and Medhat. It provided a glimpse of what competition may be looking like, but I am not intimidated. I am quite confident in my academics, my experiences, and myself. I think confidence alone can make a difference in getting into graduate and professional programs. With that being said, I have found some motivation to continue achieving and climbing for greatness. Some of the applicants’ stories were quite inspirational, but their grades were lacking. I do not like to be a “numbers person,” so I naturally want to accept them anyway. I recognize that this is a weakness and because I am someone who likes to make people happy (as revealed by several personality tests I took over Saturday Academies). I hope that the next cohort is as amazing and dedicated as us, but that is a difficult task to overcome.
This Saturday Academy was one of my favorites. We started off the morning by reviewing the applications for the next UPP cohort. As a group of three or four, we would review an application and decide if the applicant should be given an interview. This experience was very beneficial for many reasons. I recognized the value of an outstanding application. An application needs to address who you are, what you have done, and most importantly what you have learned. There is a limited amount of space in which to let yourself shine- don't leave any space blank. The application process should not be taken lightly or rushed. This application is your only means of securing an interview. I saw many examples of application disasters, such as grammatical errors and irrelevant essays. I will be applying for medical school in the upcoming months and will use the knowledge gained in this experience for my own applications.
The second half of the day we spent in the Wells Center for simulation training. I absolutely loved this experience and found it very beneficial for my future career. We were trained in SBAR and closed loop communication systems in a very effective way. We were divided in groups of about 6 and assigned the position of either nurse, doctor, observer, or respiratory therapist. We were put in a situation in the simulation lab where we saw first-hand the effects of good and bad communication among the medical team. I learned that standard, complete, and direct communication between the medical team is crucial to a patient's health and success.
Our third experience of the day also occurred at the Wells Center. We learned how to communicate with patients in unfortunate circumstances. For example, I was given the scenario to inform a diabetic patient who had always taken care of herself, the news that her leg had to be amputated. This exercise showed us the reality that we will have to deliver heartbreaking news to patients at times. This exercise further emphasized the importance and need for effective communication skills.
I left this Saturday Academy with a greater realization of what my future as a health care professional entails.
This past Saturday’s academy was one of the most eventful ones thus far. In the morning the cohort was split into two individual groups. The morning for my group consisted of an evaluation of potential fellows for the 2013-2014 UPP cohort. We evaluated first through academic rigor, although some candidates did possess high GPA’s, the classes they were taking sometimes did not reflect the career they wanted to pursue. Although a high GPA can tell a lot about a student, most students must understand that a GPA does not necessarily define who you are. We also looked at jobs held, community service engagement and personal essays. To me, the personal essays were one of the most important pieces in an application. The essays were an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants, to really define what you want to do, why you are applying and really reflect on how certain experiences shaped who you are today. I caught myself realizing that in some of my applications I miss defining myself in a clear concise way. Some of the applications essays did not go straight to the point, or even really answer the question that was asked. This essentially hurt the student’s application, even if they had a high GPA. Students sometimes misspelled or had grammatical errors throughout their application; this was a definite sign of unprofessionalism and an idea of how seriously they took the application process. As a reviewer, it looked bad and again reinforced my understanding of why professionalism is so critical when applying to programs such as UPP. It is important that you present yourself in a professional manner. I reflected upon my own experiences in the past during applications and constantly found it difficult to translate my experiences to words that could be understood by the reader. Some of the applications had experiences that were unique but they never went into detail on how it shaped who they were. It’s difficult sometimes to explain how something important in your life may have had an impact on you in merely a page of words. I now have a better understanding of how to distinguish myself from others, to be clear, concise and to the point. In the eyes of the reviewer, mere surface facts don’t necessarily separate an applicant from the pool of candidates; other applicants may say the same thing. In most cases it is not how amazing you are at things, but what makes you unique and how others can benefit from your experiences. What an applicant can offer and how engaged they are in the career they want to pursue are signs of someone who would benefit from a program like this. I will continue to have multiple people read my applications before I turn them in, it is important that others understand who you are and what your goals in life are and why you do what you do.
The second half of the day was spent in the WELLS center. We did two separate simulation labs. The first was a communication exercise with doctors and patients. My scenario was breaking news to a daughter that her mother has chosen death over an experimental chemotherapy. I was partnered with another fellow and at first I was nervous because (although it was not real), it was the first time I had ever done something like this. It went well, it was especially helpful having another team member with me exchanging thoughts and ideas and interacting with the patient. I believe that it is important that to better understand the patient, the provider must put themselves in their shoes and try deeply to understand how they are feeling. It can be difficult sometimes because some of us have never been in such drastic situations. I believe that when providers interact with patients they must pay attention to body language, wording, pauses, and other signs to understand essentially the reaction to varying news. In the WELLS center we learned the importance of communication. I have sometimes been told by friends when we are doing simple things that it is annoying that I reiterate everything they say to make sure I am doing the right thing, but it’s just a habit that I have developed. But I’ve learned that although it can be annoying, it minimizes error and miscommunication. Similar to the activities that were done in the simulation lab at the WELLS center, communication was vital to ensure the security of the patient. It is important for providers to understand that they are part of a team, and that essentially everyone is a vital team member. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table, and everyone can benefit from these individuals’ gifts and talents.
Though this past Saturday academy was unlike any of the past sessions, it was a change for the better. Certainly I missed our heated debates and discussions; however, a day packed with reviewing UPP applications and working through simulations at the WELLS center was an inspiring and educational deviant from the status quo.
Among the most interesting of components of this Saturday was simulating how to deliver bad news to a patient. After being pushed far beyond my comfort zone and likely saying all the wrong things I was forced to realize the importance of observation. Tuning into even the most subtle of changes in body language or tone within the patient can be the difference between a good and bad meeting. In the past I have prided myself on my people skills; however, never have I experienced being put in a position where I have to tell an individual something that will change their life – much like I experienced this weekend. I discovered that although I interact with people everyday, I still have a lot to learn about communication.
This idea of effective communication was addressed again with the discussion of “closing the loop” during a simulation of patient care. Specifically, the group was provided with a ‘dummy’ who was experiencing pain after having his appendix removed. Though the simulation also taught the group about vital signs and what acting out a simulation is like, the ultimate goal again was utilizing effective verbal interactions in order to solve a problem.
Ultimately the core lesson of the day was communication: how to communicate and advocate for yourself in applications and interviews, how to communicate in order to reduce the number of mistakes made, and finally how to communicate in difficult situations. In short, though many of us interact with others on a daily basis there is much more to that interaction that we should and will be forced to consider, as future health care providers.
This Saturday Academy was very fun and educational. The trip to the wells center allowed us to catch a glimpse of reality in a clinical setting. We as future health care providers mainly think of all the positive outcomes that will come with the profession because we use it as our drive to reaching our career goals. This Saturday academy really made me think of the other side of being a provider, the side that books do not prepare for. Giving patients news that they do not want to hear or were not expected is really challenging. My scenario included a female in her 20s with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma who only had four months to live. I went in the room with kazi and we both had an idea on how to deal with the situation but as soon as we gave her the news things got real. I do not how can someone prepare to give a news of that kind to a woman who feels healthy, had fought cancer for three years, and is planning on getting married soon. This is definitely the time that a professional drops their credentials and as a human being gives the news using honesty and empathy towards the patient. I tried comforting her and offer to provide the best care until the day comes but her grieving stage blocked everything we had to say. The patient wanted to try other forms of treatments like acupunctures, herbs, and even be part of experimental trials to new medications. When seeing someone in a devastating situation the first reaction as another human is to try and find a solution because as a society we always want to fix everything. I was okay with the acupunctures and natural herbs done with the chemo but not with trying new medications. The Female claimed she felt good and strong, and starting a new treatment can jeopardize that on the last months of life. I put my hand on her shoulder and told her I was going to be there to do what it was in my reach to comfort her. We called the fiancé and had him come so we could explain the situation and have them make a decision. This was definitely a very difficult scenario. My hands were sweaty, my mouth was dry, and my posture expressed evident nervousness. This was an amazing experience that I might forever retain.
The second part of the academy we went to review applications and that process is no joke. The applicants for Undergraduate Pre-health Program are all well qualified candidates when it comes to GPA but the letters of recommendation and the essays are what really sets them apart. We got to see the admissions side and what are the key points in an application packet. This has perhaps the best Saturday Academy thus fur. I cannot wait to be part of the interviews and really learn from that experience.
This Saturday Academy was by far the best one we have had thus far. My favorite part was how interactive the say seemed to be. My group started the day off at the WELLS Center where we partook in various simulations to better understand the work of a health care professional. At first we practiced breaking bad news to a patient, while we were recorded so the other fellows could observe. This was extremely nerve wrecking and I can honestly say I was completely unprepared. It was like walking into a whole new world, and the moment you stepped into the room, it all seemed so real even though the patient was not really a patient. It was easy thinking about how you would approach a situation like this but simaltaneously it was a whole differnt feeling when the patient was resistant to the bad news they were receiving. It seemed to get more calming as more of the fellows went, since we developed an idea of what the best method to go about it would be. After these scenarios we actually got to role play in an alternate scenario that was more hands on. The maniquins were truly amazing! They could breathe, talk, and even had a pulse. I played the role of the patient's mother and had no problem jumping into an overprotective position. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this bit, the only thing that I did not like was that we were not given a sense of direction on what each health care professionals role was. Instead we were kind of just thrown in there and made due. This method would have been way more helpful if we were thrown in blind the first time around and then after a discussion, we repeated the scenario. Nevertheless, the whole experience was very enjoyable. For the second half of the day, we split up into groups and reviewed the next UPP cohort's applications. It was surprising which aspects of the application made you subjective about the rest. Although there may be alternate reasons for flaws shown within the application, it was extremely easy to view the whole application in a negative manner. With this in mind, I think I learned to pay a lot more attention to the little things that go into an applcation and now know that even small errors leave a big impression on the critic. This will prove to be beneficial in my dental school applications this coming summer.
The Feb. 23 Saturday Academy started with a set of activities at the WELLS Center, an integrative simulation lab that uses programmed mannequins, rooms, medical equipment and actors to duplicate scenarios that will occur in a health professional's career. First up for our group was a simulation in which a mannequin represented a 19-year old in the post anesthesia care unit following an appendectomy. Members of our group were split into individual roles, with two doctors, two nurses, one respiratory therapist, and an observer. As the observer, my job was to monitor everyone and make sure that the proper communication was occurring in response to the medical situations that arose, including low respiratory rate, pain, and dizziness following the administration of pain medication. Jean, our facilitator, was able to skillfully direct everyone towards the main objective, which was to realize the importance of early and constant communication between all involved in medical situations. We learned and practiced using the Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation method of communication. This simulation was helpful because it allowed us to see that real situations always differ from classroom education in unforeseen ways. Taking a test on material from a classroom involves a controlled and expected environment during which one has plenty of time to come up with the correct answer. However, in real situations and the sim lab, a calm state of mind must be maintained in the presence of a patient that may be complaining and in pain. Others may be in the room, looking to you for directions, and still others may be giving directions that you must either follow or contradict. There may even be family members present, creating an even more distracting environment. Today, I got a taste of how I would react in such an environment for the first time. Next, we participated in a simulation in which we split into pairs and practiced giving bad medical news to a patient actor. This may have been even more educational than the first simulation, because there were personal, emotional components involved. One situation involved telling a daughter that her relatively young mother had terminal cancer. Another involved a man who needed to have his foot amputated. Having never had any sort of experience like this before, I thought that I would handle this situation relatively well. It seemed simple: just tell the patient the news straight, with social grace and appropriate levels of sympathy. Answer any questions honestly and tactfully, and provide resources to the patient. However, the actors were able to portray unexpected events that could easily happen in an actual clinical setting. The future amputee acted confused and denied the news, and the daughter of the cancer patient continued to ask for confirmation of the news, compelling me to deal with these reactions appropriately. Our facilitator discussed these situations with our group before and after the clinical visits, analyzing what we did well and what we could continue to improve on. She was full of excellent ways to cope with potentially awkward or uncomfortable situations. The WELLS center gave me a sense of my current ability to react appropriately in a clinical or medical emergency situation, and I consider it to be one of the most important experiences I have had with UPP. After lunch, our half of the cohort critiqued and made recommendations on the applications of potential UPP members for next year. I have applied to various internships, scholarships, and programs, but I had never participated in the critiquing of applications before. Looking at the application process from the "other side" allowed me to realize how applications are truly reviewed, and certain elements that may look weak to an admissions committee. One thing that stuck out to me was the fact that most applications are only reviewed for about five minutes, if not shorter. Because of this, it is important to completely eliminate any organizational or grammatical errors. It is also crucial to focus on the most impactful community service activities or extracurriculars, expanding on their importance concisely and completely, rather than listing a great quantity of less important activities. Also, it became painfully apparent to me that it is absolutely critical that I get to know my recommenders. Generic or poorly written letters can be a significant negative in an application. I was grateful for this opportunity not only because I was able to improve my own application skills but also because I was able to see some potential future UPP members, many of whom I was very impressed with. As I apply for dental schools this summer, I will pay particular attention to the focus and wording of my short essay questions. I also will significantly revise my personal statement, striving to make it flow and reveal my personal voice while remaining professional and focused on the main question.
For the morning portion of this Saturday Academy, we took a field trip to the WELLS Center. At first, I had no idea what to expect from the experience, and I didn't know what it would be like. Upon arriving there, the staff members surprised us with coffee, tea, and snacks and made us feel very welcomed. We spent a good amount of time practicing delivering bad news to actor patients. This was especially challenging because I had never thought about what it would be like to admit to someone that nothing could be done about having their leg amputated or anything along those lines. I felt that it was a particularly rewarding activity, especially because as we delivered the bad news, our peers watched us from recordings and were able to provide us with constructive criticism on the side. It felt like such a safe environment, especially because we understood that we all failed a little bit, and we weren't sure about all of the medical details, and most importantly because we didn't judge each other.
Afterwards, we role played in the simulation lab with Atticus, the medical simulation mannequin. The point of our exercise was to realize the importance of communication. We learned about SBAR, which was a specific technique that implements closed-looped communication. Although the experience was quite stressful and we didn't know how to medically treat many of the symptoms we saw, we were able to learn from each other and learn how we act in times of stress.
Finally, we returned to the meeting room and reviewed applications for the next applying cohort of UPP. The experience was rewarding because it allowed me to look through other people's applications in order to gauge how much I need to improve.
|Malik ||Atiyah ||
On February 23,2013 I had the utmost privilege of attending our sixth Saturday academy. I can fully attest to the notion of this being one of the most beneficial and educational experiences I have had. I absolutely loved the morning session that was spent in the WELLS center. During our visit at the center we were placed in challenging situations that tested our ability to interact and work in the clinical realm. In one of the scenarios we were placed in the post-operational clinic with a simulation model as a patient. We were required to check any changes in vitals and react in accordance to those changes while simultaneously provide unconditional comfort to the patient. Through this scenario I learned the importance of working in a cohesive manner and communicating with one another. This also reiterated the point that a health care provider is consistently required to think at a critical level to insure that the patient and those around them are receiving optimal assistance. The second portion of our stay at the WELLS center included being placed in scenarios in which you had to inform your patients about certain diseases or disorders that they may have. I learned that this is a difficult task and that the health care provider must be able to shape his character to whatever circumstance he is faced with.
The second half of this Saturday academy was spent analyzing applications. This was incredibly useful in that I was able to see where other applicants are in their process and what areas I need to improve on. I learned that it is crucial to be short and as concise as possible when writing your application. By being short and concise you insure that the individual analyzing your application remains intrigued and willing to keep reading your application. I also learned what was useful to talk about and what one should avoid discussing in their application. I hope to use what I learned from analyzing these applications and implement those lessons into my application. I realize that I need to keep motivated and keep improving as an individual. It is crucial to never be content with who you are and to strive to work on your weaknesses.
I am blessed to have been a part of this Saturday academy. The lessons learned from associating myself in the WELLS center and through analyzing future applicants will serve invaluable.
This Saturday academy was very interesting due to the unique activities that took place this event compare to other academy. The cohort went to WELLS Center, a stimulation lab comprised of interactive mannequins, medical office layout and actors to replicate a healthcare setting. The stimulation lab was broken into two parts. The first part composed of an interactive mannequin that breathe, blink, and has an esophagus along with an incomplete stomach.
In my group of six people, we were split into doctors, nurses, respiratory therapist and an observer. The goal was to improve our communication between the health care fields. The scenario requires us to treat a patient that just got out of appendectomy and he was in pain. The nurses were the first to be called in the room to evaluate the situation then call for the respiratory therapist. Then the doctor was called in for further guidance. To be able to effectively communication with the respiratory therapist, the nurse was advice to use SBAR; which stands for situation, background, assessment, and recommendation. If the team used SBAR effectively, it would decrease the likelihood of having making a mistake and the whole team is involved and knows what is going on.
The second part of the stimulation dealt with given a “patient” bad issue. My scenario composed of a 68-year old male who has Type II Diabetes with a horrendous infection in his left leg. Therefore, the doctors had to advice him to amputate his leg. It was hard to be quick on my feet with sentimental remarks because patient kept on coming up with the worst outcome. For example, the patient thought his wife would leave him and his other leg is also going to be amputated. The experience taught me a good lesson about trying to be more personable and try to use terms that are more sentimental.
The resident that was working with us through the simulation said that the words “calm down” makes me very angry for some reason. It might be de to the fact that we are implying that their emotions have cascaded too high. In reality, many of use do not know about what the situation is and we only know the outcome. Being able to listen to people is the best thing to do. During the simulation, I also made sure to stay clear from touching the patient anywhere but she said that felt disengaging. Due to the fact that I don’t know what the boundaries for the patient and doctor interaction, it was hard to know what to do. All in all, it was a great experience that I hope I can do more in the future to improve my people skills.
Saturday Academy on March 23rd was one of the most rewarding Saturday Academies of the entire year. In the morning, we were able to go to the University of Colorado WELLS Center, where trained staff had prepared a morning full of interesting activities. After splitting into two groups, my group started off the morning with a “scenario” activity in which we were told to pretend that we were doctors and given a certain situation to act out. All of the situations involved breaking difficult news to patients (volunteers who had been told to act out each situation.)
At first, I wasn’t sure how it would feel to act out the part of a physician. I knew it was all pretend, so would I really get the full effect of the situation? Being with another student who makes me laugh, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to take it seriously. After I entered the situation room, however, I knew that this would not be a problem. Despite being a made-up situation, the situation instantly felt very real. I had to tackle the task of telling a woman that her mother had opted out of an experimental cancer treatment, and that the best option was hospice. The “patient” was incredibly realistic, and I sometimes had trouble knowing how to comfort her or what to say. The situation I was in had no easy solution. To hear that your mother is giving up on life must be devastating, and I never would blame someone for pushing for the treatment. On the other hand, it’s not right to force something on a patient who has already been through so much.
I was surprised at the effect that this activity had on me. For one thing, it opened up a whole new aspect to medicine that I have barely considered in the past. Medicine is much more than just knowing human anatomy and prescribing medicine. As a physician, I will be put in situations like this – and when I am, they will be real. I was affected emotionally by the volunteer in the WELLS Center – how on earth will I react to a real patient? What, really, is the best way to handle a situation like this? I want to be professional and stable, but I want to be able to exhibit emotion with my patients, as well.
After this activity, we were put in another situation, this time with a mannequin that provided a realistic demonstration of a patient in a hospital. We were all given roles to play out, with a focus on the importance of communication. I was a nurse, with the job of checking vital signs, monitoring the patient, and assisting the physician. This activity was meant to practice closed-loop communication. For me, however, it was much more. Of course, I had no idea what I was actually doing. I was getting the heart rate mixed up with the patient’s temperature, I was getting in the way of the respiratory therapist, and my clipboard was mainly scribbles. I felt helpless. I know that I wasn’t supposed to know anything, and that my fellow “doctors” didn’t know much either, but for me, this was similar to a nightmare. One of my biggest fears for the future is that I will be incompetent. I fear not being able to help someone, or making a mistake. Being in that room was exactly the thing that I worry about. In a way, it terrified me. I do, though, feel that it was very valuable and I am grateful for the experience.
In the afternoon, we reviewed applications for new UPP members. This was also very interesting, and I am glad that I will be able to help with the interviews. Reviewing applications that are not yours gives you a whole new perspective about the application process.
This Saturday academy has been the most eye-opening by far. The day was split into two halves: mock admissions committee review and active medical simulation participation. I started my day by doing the mock admissions committee review. I really disliked this exercise. I would never want to be in a position like this ever again. It was extremely difficult to decide whether a kid is worthy for a program or not. It makes me wonder what people were thinking when they reviewed my application and gave a little boost to my confidence knowing I made it this far with my credentials. Despite my dislike of the exercise it was very good in terms of showing me how quickly of a good impression I must make to be even a contender within an applications process. If I don’t have the grades that will hurt me right out of the gate and if I have bad grammar, I can kiss my hopes of getting into the program good bye. With this in mind, I am even more determined to dominate my academics so I can keep an outstanding GPA and make sure that before I ever send off my application I have it checked by several people to make sure that I did not make any mistakes grammatically. We have less than a minute to make an impression so that means I better make sure I bring my game whenever I apply to any school/program.
For the second half we got to experience the simulation lab which was very fun. The first exercise we did was the acting role play where we pretended to be doctors and were given prompts where we had to address a certain situation with a patient. This was very entertaining and fun to watch, but nerve-wracking when you are the one in the hot seat. Fortunately enough for me, talking to people and being personal with them is a strong suit of mine so I thought it was pretty fun minus the initial butterflies I had at the start, but as I started getting comfortable with the situation, I rolled with the exercise. The possible situations one could face during a talk with a patient could vary from day to day, but I feel like we had a good scope of what to expect. However, breaking bad news to someone is definitely not an easy thing to do. With that being said, I am so impressed by the simulation clinic. My basketball coach always said to get to perfection we must always practice, and that’s exactly what we get to do in the sim clinic. These experiences will produce better healthcare professionals in the future. I’m very excited to get another crack at this in the future. Before this I had an idea of how these situations would play out, but I never had experienced something like this first hand. Being able to experience this will definitely help with the “real deal” later down the road in our medical careers.
For the last exercise we did a real-time execution of the healthcare and teamwork dynamics necessary to be an efficient medical team with the help of the simulation dummy, codenamed Atticus. This was very fun because we were all able to get our “hands dirty” so to say. It was definitely a steep learning curve for all of us. The lesson we learned from the exercise was that teamwork is the key to executing efficient medical practices as well as sounding off orders and repeating them to ensure accuracy. It is easy to see where discrepancies between doctors’ orders to their nurses and to other medical professionals could become misinterpreted, so by directly telling someone what you want them to accomplish as well as having them repeat it is a necessity to ensure perfect medical execution.
These hands on exercises are really good. As future healthcare professionals we have a general idea of the tasks we’ll have to perform, but never had any experience doing them. By having these experiences it will help better prepare us for the future and what we’re getting ourselves into. I for one am a hands on learner so being able to actively participate with my body was very beneficial. I wish we could do more simulation/hands on activities like this. Overall it was the best session we’ve had thus far.
This Saturday academy was split into two halves; the Wells Center Simulation and the application review process. Both were noteworthy experiences that facilitated critical thinking, shed light on eye-opening, novel viewpoints, and fostered insight that will last throughout the rest of my professional education. My first experience was at the Wells Center simulation lab. I went through a simulation in which I acted as a physician who had to tell her patient that was under the pressure of relating “bad news” to a patient or their family. This was an incredible lesson in humility, compassion, and empathy. This is a skill that is critical to a physician’s career but usually is not emphasized in the early stages of education. When we choose a pre-med curriculum in undergrad we are normally immersed in a ridged class schedule in which we are flooded with difficult material to digest and understand. We are constantly pushed and molded to be these “gunners” that excel in academics and exceed expectations in the classroom, setting curves, and receiving 4.0 GPAs. While the books are important and the ability to comprehend complex material is critical for physicians, unfortunately, students coming out of their undergraduate education begin to believe that they are equipped to treat patients but are not able to socially relate in an appropriate manner. Patients expect their doctors to be relatable; it gives them a sense of ease during a difficult season in their lives. There is a right way and a wrong way to give bad news and it is important that while we are learning to be tough, persevere, work long hours and have tough skin to accept constructive criticism there is also a vital component regarding patient interaction. My task was to tell a married 46 year old that she had acquired the STD chlamydia. I was nervous and it was difficult “easing” into the news. There is no easy way to do that. The patient had been married with children and she could not fathom the possibility of her husband being unfaithful. This is news that, although treatable, not only affects the patients’ health directly but also could potentially ruin a marriage and break up a family. That is hard news to give any way you look at it. There were long periods of silence in which you just had to be comfortable not talking and wait for the person to process the news. This was the most difficult part for me. The more practice earlier on we can gain in these simulation labs the better, but I don’t think anyone can ever be fully prepared to deliver some heart-wrenching news we are faced with as physicians but it was comforting to hear that the more practice you get the easier it is to find a style and flow to delivering traumatic news. I feel extremely privileged to have had this opportunity so early in my medical career and training. Furthermore, we were able to participate in an emergency simulation in which we did use our intellect and previous knowledge to diagnose a patient in critical care and act in a high stress environment to treat a patient with both speed and precision. I chose the role of the doctor because I wanted to know what that pressure would feel like as close to my intended position as possible. It was a very difficult position to be in. There were a lot of other healthcare providers with valid input and solutions. And, I found it difficult to take everyone’s advice and conclude a final response knowing that my final say would directly affect the outcome of the patients well-being. What if I made the wrong choice? This was a lot of pressure. Although stressful, I also found it invigorating. I am currently working on my MCAT exam prep and it is draining, exhausting, and at times very disheartening. This simulation lab couldn’t have come at a better time in my semester to remind me of why I am really doing this and putting in long hours to learn these minute details of biology, chemistry, physics, and reading comprehension. There is a bigger purpose. There is a final outcome and all these details I am learning now are going to aid in my ability to excel in medical school and furthermore as a physician making these important critical calls. I enjoy being needed. Although fearful at times, I like being entrusted with the final decision because I trust myself to make the best decision in collaboration with my peers. I am very open to other’s ideas and I enjoy teaching others in all aspects. I am excited to be able to use these skills to be the best person a patient sees on their worst day. I want to excel in passing on my positive attitude and optimism off to my patient and my peers. I want to be able to make serious educated, precise decisions when necessary but also excel in relating information to patients to be the well-rounded doctor I know I can be. In conclusion, this half of the day was exciting and I immediately called my parents afterward to tell them that I know I am pursuing the right career and I was confident in my decision to apply to medical school and pursue this path. Finally, and briefly, going through applications held high importance as well. I have been on a review committee before but not with nearly the amount of application and not with as critical of a rubric as we used. It was good to see what students turn in. The difficulties of assessing an applicant on paper alone prove to be a daunting task. It is hard to get a full picture of the applicant in some instances. I think the rubric was helpful but it’s hard to eliminate someone just because of a score as well. It is difficult because you have a hand in determining a big part of this student’s future. I cannot fathom the role of a medical school reviewer. Some students dismissed may have been perfect for the program and may make excellent healthcare providers but bottom line is they have to learn how to advocate for themselves better. That being said there are also those students who do a great job portraying themselves on paper and saying all the right things but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to excel in the program or prove to be a better than average healthcare provider. There is a difference between grades and extracurricular or life experience. And, these are hard to weigh out and determine the significance of each. I enjoyed reviewing what other students submitted and took mental notes on how I complete applications. I would actually like to see comments made on my UPP application. That would be a great workshop to have! Needless to say, I am excited to participate in interviews. This was one of my favorite Saturday academies and I am beyond grateful for the continued molding and support.
Today’s Saturday Academy was a wonderful and enlightening experience. We started the day by evaluating this year’s UPP applicants. Having recently submitted four applications for doctorate of audiology programs in various states, this part of the day opened my eyes to the application evaluation process, as both an applicant and an evaluator. I, myself spent months working on my applications; trying to make every piece perfect and wondering what the graduate committee would think of me. What I learned through the evaluation of applications today is that committees will not give your application more than a few minutes of attention before deciding whether they want to give you an interview or whether they want to throw out your application. Little things such as typos or inaccurate information can make or break your application. Additionally, I learned that an applicant can be weak in some areas but show potential through other areas. Some applicants that we looked at had lower GPAs, but showed consistent involvement in relevant extracurricular activities and employment, which made their application stand out above some with higher GPAs. Letters of recommendation also spoke to the applicants and filled in spaces more than I expected. For example, certain applicants would show a weaker academic record, but their recommenders would describe them as being motivated or having a lot of potential and passion, which made their application seem considerably stronger. The essay portion of the application also said many things about the applicants. It was apparent to us which applicants wrote their essays last minute or tried to rework previous essays to fit the prompt of the UPP applicant. Their essays were off topic, full or mistakes and uninspiring. Contrarily, some applicants had strong and well-written essays, which made their entire application stand out in my mind. These pieces of information are incredibly valuable to me, even though I am through the application process for graduate school. I have recently been offered an interview for Arizona State University. In my mind, I can now picture how the committee must have went through my application and came to the decision that they wanted to get to know me better to see if I am a good fit for their program. Therefore, as an applicant, I need to go into my interview with the idea that I am reassuring the committee that I am a strong applicant and a good candidate for their program. I need to highlight and expand upon the application that have previously evaluated, while also adding a more personable level to their knowledge of me as an applicant. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to look at the UPP applications through the eyes of a selection committee. I have a much greater knowledge of how to make myself stand out on paper and get an interview, or acceptance, to a program.
After reading through applications in the morning, we had lunch and then spent the rest of the day at the Wells Center on campus. I was a little nervous and not sure what to expect from this experience. However, it proved to be eye-opening and engaging. I learned so much about myself as a future health care professional. We began by working on a part of health care that I have not had much experience or exposure to: delivering bad news. Through realistic skits, we were asked to give bad news to different actors, with little to no preparation beforehand. I was terrified! D’Andra and I were asked to give the news to a woman that she would be unable to recover from Hodgkins Lymphoma, and that she had four months to live. When I heard that this was the news we would be delivering, my mind went blank. How do you begin to tell someone such hard and horrible news? What words do you use, what tone of voice? As we entered the room, I was surprised at how realistic the situation became for me. I looked at a woman that I had never met before and felt myself feeing realistic compassion as I explained to her, with the best of my abilities, that she did not have long to live. It was a hard task, for sure, but I was surprised at how natural the conversation went once I became more used to the situation. Receiving feedback right after the simulation helped me to see areas that I can improve on in the future. While observing in the audiology clinic this summer, I saw many situations when an audiologist had to break the news to a family that their child was Deaf, or to a middle-aged or young individual that they would need hearing aids. The patients frequently became very emotional, and being able to adequately communicate and provide support and information to a patient who is in shock is an incredibly valuable skill that I am glad I was able to work on today. Finally, we took part in a simulation in the “Sim-Lab” where we were asked to play various roles while taking care of a patient. I played the part of the patient’s mother, and was once again surprised at how realistic the situation became to me. My “son” had just emerged from surgery and spoke to me about his pain. I had to communicate with him as well as with the doctors. We learned how important communication is in a medical situation, especially one where there are many individuals in a room and many tasks that need to be completed. I was amazed at how hectic the situation became and how easily it was solved when we were asked to use appropriate communication. Today was a wonderful day and I am already looking forward to the next Saturday Academy- interview day!
The February Saturday academy was definitely one of the most informative and useful academies we have had. The first half of the day was focused on reviewing applications from UPP applicants. The second half of the day was spent at the WELLS center going through simulations of different medical scenarios. Not only was the Saturday academy fun, but it was also useful.
During the morning, we broke into groups of three or four individuals and manually reviewed UPP applications from the 2013-2014 application cycle. This may not sound like it could be beneficial for the reviewers but it actually was very helpful for me. The application process for professional schools is very daunting and it can be overwhelming. By actually reviewing applications, I was able to gain a different perspective on the process. I gained a lot from reviewing different applications. I was able to pick up on things that I should avoid in my application as well as being able to see some applications that were phenomenal. One thing that I did find interesting was how the other students in my cohort responded to some of the applications. Maybe I am too lenient, but I felt that some applicants that were really strong weren’t given the proper credit. For me that was an eye-opening experience. I never really considered the possibility of my application being denied due to me not presenting myself well enough. This may sound naïve, but I felt that my credentials would speak for themselves. I am glad that I was exposed to how the application process will actually be. To be honest, I am a lot more nervous for the whole process.
The afternoon portion was geared more towards having fun. We spent time going through simulations to see how the different members of the hospital team work together to make sure that a patient receives proper treatment. For me, the most impactful part of the WELLS tour was when we had to go through simulations of giving bad news to patients. As undergraduates, it is very easy to think that being a physician is just about being a scientist. Unfortunately, a large part of being a physician is having to give bad news to families. This can play a toll on the physicians’ emotional states. This is something that every pre-med student should be exposed to before entering medical school to make sure that the student truly wants the lifestyle and stress that comes with a career in the medical field.
February’s Saturday Academy provided me with great insight not only into the emotional rollercoaster that is the medical field, but also what sorts of trials and tribulations that many admissions boards must go through for various programs throughout the year. The day began at the Wells Center where our day of simulations began. Before entering the center, I was thinking that we would be thrown into a feigned emergency situation and every person would be assigned a different medical profession and we would test to see how these various professions had to collaborate in various situations. In reality, what we actually did was completely different to what I was expecting and I believed it to be much more beneficial. My favorite part was when we went through the communication simulations. I went through the simulation twice both with Cara and with Howe and I could notice that there was noticeable improvement in my communication skills my second time through versus my first time. My first case included the negotiation of hospice to an elderly woman’s daughter and the second case involved a patient who had been diagnosed with type II diabetes 10 years prior, drastically improved his exercise and diet regimen, and still wound up needed to get his foot amputated. Both cases really taught me about the importance of sensitivity to the patient’s wishes. Often, as aspiring healthcare professionals, we think that there is a set way to help a patient or that the main goal is to “treat” the patient. However, this is not the case in my opinion. The patient’s wants, questions, and concerns should ALWAYS be taken into account when formulating a plan to help a patient. Moreover, whatever the patient thinks is an acceptable form of treatment/what course makes them feel more comfortable should be the priority. Our jobs should be centered around the provision of knowledge to patients in order for them to make a well-educated and well rounded decision that makes they are comfortable with. I feel as though we spend so much time thinking about what is right and how we can best treat the patient that we lose sight of what the patient and the patient’s family wants which further augments the communication barrier that is present in the healthcare community today. Since those simulations corresponded most to what I aim to change in healthcare, I will always remember this experience not only as a source of growth, but also as a foundation of my healthcare related communication skills. The day ended with the review of applications for UPP’s next cohort. It is always interesting to see what competition I may have in the future and what kind of credentials and qualifications my peers have. I learned that sometimes we may be too harsh on applicants, based off of GPA, extracurriculars, etc., and that a holistic view really is necessary in order to fairly assess whether or not an applicant might be a good fit for a program/school/scholarship and in order to make a complete decision, an interview is necessary to really know where the student is headed, where they have been, what they can contribute, how the program/school/scholarship will help them with their goals and if they are a “good fit” for what they are applying for.
This Saturday academy was divided into two different portions, between two different groups of the cohort. For the morning portion of the academy, I spent time reviewing the applications of prospective students for the internship. For me, the process by which applications are reviewed is very methodical; however, it was difficult for me to come to decisive answers on applications in such a short amount of time. I prefer to thoroughly read through the information placed in front of me, but can also understand how important it is to make a striking and lasting first impression in a matter of minutes, especially when the reviewers are going through hundreds of applications in a short amount of time. From reviewing the applications and discussing amongst the cohort, I understand how easily divided the reviewing committee can be – at many instances in the reviewing process, there were discussions between our small groups as to what makes a good and what makes a bad candidate, and many of the times I was on the fence in terms of the applicability of the trait or issue at hand. Overall, there are three important things that I took from seeing a wide array of applications – first, it is important to know yourself and know how to represent yourself in a positive and catchy way on paper. Second, it is important to know who is writing your letters of recommendation, as they provide a non-biased (in some sense of the phrase) look into your academic and professional sides. And finally, work hard to correlate your essays to the topic and program given – although you may write a beautifully crafted essay, it may not directly apply or adequately answer the given prompts.
The second part of the academy was spent at the Wells Center, discussing and taking a hands-on approach to some of the simulation tools many professional healthcare students use to better their understanding of patient interaction. Here, we learned the importance of clear communication and conveyance of information using SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) and important steps in accurately relaying information between all members of a patient’s healthcare team. I thought that the most helpful aspect of the simulation was the interactive ‘skits’ that we did in teams of two with volunteer actors. In our situation, Kristen and I had to break the news to a diabetic patient that she needed to have her leg amputated, which didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. In the feedback/discussion portion of the interaction, I learned that what may come off as aloof and serious in my mind, may not be considered professional by others – I often opt to stand instead of sit down during conversations, which may come off as arrogant or uncaring. I also learned that many times people try to avoid situations by hiding behind printed off pamphlets and other informational sources. Overall, the simulated interactions were helpful in dissecting what was and what wasn’t great patient care and interaction, as well as how truly unpredictable life can be (as you may never be able to guess or know what is on the other person’s mind).