MSSC member physicians put themselves on the firing line to mark National Doctors’ Day, speaking at a half-dozen Wichita schools and taking question after question from students.
Students asked about biggest babies delivered, youngest and oldest mothers, diabetes, genetic testing, low testosterone, salaries, cost of medical school, the MCAT and how physicians cope with sadness, among other topics.
Some physicians brought Powerpoints; others opened with, “so, tell me what you want to know.” All shared their expertise in and passion for medicine and a bit about themselves. That was the purpose of the program, which MSSC began last year as a pay-it-forward twist on Doctors’ Day. The hope is that students – including some who might have thought it out of reach – might consider a career in the “noble profession.”
All together from March 28 to 31, physicians spoke to over 400 students at North, West and East Highs, Collegiate School, Trinity Academy, and Independent School. Taking part were Drs. Patty Bledsoe, Anita Campbell, Valerie Creswell, Jed Delmore, John Gallagher, Linda Goodson, Ramaiah Indudhara, Michelle Klaumann, Denis Knight, Lan Ly, Emily Manlove, Justin Moore, Thomas Moore, Barry Murphy, Ragnar Peterson, D. Brendan Rice, Thomas Rosenberg, Patricia Wyatt-Harris and Estephan Zayat.
Their chosen field
At Independent, Dr. Wyatt-Harris told students the first delivery she did “was the coolest thing in the world.” She’s since brought 7,000 to 8,000 more into the world, from mothers ranging in age from 11 to 49.
Dr. Wyatt-Harris told how robotic surgery was a “huge, huge improvement over what we used to do” and that she chose a surgical path because “I want to get in and fix it.”
OB/GYN brings a mix of procedures and people: “I see these ladies through their whole lives, which is a bit like a family practice doctor.” At North, Dr. Delmore shared why he focused on oncology gynecology. “I liked working with sicker people,” he said. “I could deliver a baby but you wouldn’t want me to.”
Dr. Delmore and Drs. Rice and Justin Moore spoke to classes in North’s Bio-Med program, which like the Health Science program at West prepares students for college and certification as EMTs, CNAs, phlebotomists and other fields.
Is “everybody doing OK?” Dr. Delmore asked after one bloody slide, and the students nodded yes. He brought a video of surgery using the da Vinci system to remove lymph nodes and told how hospital infection rates dropped because of the technique and how, despite working from a console, “nothing moves without the doctor moving.” Working with patients is “gratifying. You’ve helped them during a hard time.”
Dr. Moore said he chose endocrinology partly because he dislikes delayed gratification. Run labs, get a level, prescribe a medication and “you get a pretty quick response most of the time.” He described his shift to consulting with Health ICT and others, to satisfy his interests and have a better work-life balance. He explained the work he does now, including on environmental factors contributing to disease.
Drawing a traditional street grid and a neighborhood of cul-de-sacs, he asked which promoted physical activity. The grid, a student replied, and Dr. Moore said, “correct,” and told how he tried to persuade city leaders to develop accordingly.
Medical school and training
At West High, many of the Health Science students wanted to be doctors – surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, pediatrician, anesthesiologist – as well as firefighters, nurses, EMTs and PAs.
Dr. Peterson, a general surgeon, answered a pressing question early, explaining he’d always used his middle name of Ragnar – “I couldn’t get my brain around Eugene” – and had changed it once learning it cost only $50. He focused on his path to medical school and that “medicine is a noble calling,” echoing the message of Dr. Delmore that “it’s a calling; it’s not a job.”
What students should learn now, Dr. Peterson said, is how to study and take tests, particularly multiple-choice ones. Set aside time to study and use all the resources available. Avoid distractions – shut off Facebook and close email, Dr. Moore said, and “make studying sacrosanct.”
Dr. Moore said some students’ biggest mistake was having good grades and MCAT scores “but no idea what they’re getting into. So go out and seek experiences” like shadowing.
Get comfortable with failure, Dr. Peterson said. “It’s OK if you didn’t get it right the first time. The failure of making a mistake is not learning from it.”
And don’t let others dissuade you. “People always assume because you’re a doctor you’re smart,” Dr. Peterson said. That’s not necessarily so, but “you have to be fastidious and tenacious.”
Dr. Peterson’s high school counselor, looking at his 3.0 and 17 ACT score, had asked if he’d considered welding. When he got to college, “I figured it out.” For years, he sent that counselor notice of honor rolls and other accomplishments. “There are a lot of people who will say you can’t do something. Only you can decide.”
A bit of feedback
“My kids thoroughly enjoyed everything you did! … I love that you gave them a different angle of medicine to think about and you really included them in your time with us.” – To Dr. John Gallagher from Linsey Floyd, Wichita Collegiate School
“I very much enjoyed meeting and talking to your class students. They are all so wonderful, brilliant and enthusiastic – it reminded me of my school days!” – From Dr. Ramaiah Indudhara, who visited Collegiate