I’m stopped at a red light, right toe grazing the pavement.
“What’s in your bag!?” the cyclist behind me screams. I jolt, tipping myself toward the curb and crane my neck to look back at him, squinting in the sun.
“Stethoscope.” I reply. I’ve been asked before about the tiny grey ear pieces peeking out of my satchel.
“Cool.” He continues, bringing his bike beside mine. “You a nurse?”
“Medical student.” I say.
His next comment — a repetition of “cool,” I think — is cut off as the light turns green, and we start riding. I’m heading to my tenth shift at WISH, the Winnipeg Interprofessional Student Run Health Clinic. Operating out of Mount Carmel Clinic on Main Street, the Sunday afternoon clinic serves residents of Point Douglas. As a medical student, I’m afforded the opportunity to practice my clinical skills while providing health care to a segment of Winnipeg that may not otherwise have access. Further, I’m able to learn from and teach other healthcare students, mostly those in the faculties of nursing and pharmacy.
As a medical student, I’m living my dream and working towards my passion. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and I’m finally in training to become one. By providing direct patient care at WISH, I’m able to solidify my text-book acquired skills and put into context the words of instructors. Working with a plethora of other students provides understanding in how to take a leadership role in healthcare without taking over. As the medical student I’m often the one most comfortable talking directly with patients and the person best able to come up with solutions (and diagnoses) to the patients’ concerns.
Each week I meet new patients and catch up with regulars. With another student (usually from a different faculty) I assess patients’ health concerns, construct a differential diagnosis and collaborate on a treatment plan. Every step of the way I have the support and input of my fellow students and the expertise of the staff nurse and physician. After each patient encounter I chart with my partner and debrief with the group, giving me ample opportunity to ask questions of the physician and accept correction in the way we handled the visit, honing my skills and sharpening my knowledge.
At the conclusion of each shift, after seeing anywhere from one to ten patients, as well as numerous community members in a social setting, I try to scribble down notes on what I’ve learned, and what I need to look up upon returning home. Then I stash my pad and pen, return my nametag and fold my stethoscope back into my bag, ear pieces peeking out. Helmet on and I’m riding away, already looking forward to my next shift.
Lisa is an executive member of the WISH Clinic serving as a programming co-chair. Though a busy second year medical student Lisa still finds time for non-academic pursuits, though she regrets she is a fair-weather cyclist!