A Visit to the ER


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A Visit to the ER

 

I did not want to be there, but visiting the emergency room was part of the local Youth Science Program.

 

When I had first thought of becoming a doctor I was awed by the science involved. I frequently pictured myself as a "know it all" who saw patients and wrote prescriptions in an office. The thought of working in a hospital with extremely ill patients did not appeal to me. The emergency room presented the possibility of changing my mind about my career goals. I did not want to leave thinking that I no longer knew what I wanted to do.

 

John, one of the Youth Science Program directors, handed me a lab coat. It was time to go, and in a daze I wondered if I would one day, wear a lab coat that read, "Patricia Reynoso, M.D."

 

That day I met an Hispanic lady who had previously had two spontaneous abortions. This time she had vaginal bleeding and the fetal heart sound was not audible. Only an ultrasound would determine whether her baby was alive or not. While the doctors made the arrangements I kept her company. I did not know how she felt about me since she had only been told that I was a student who would translate for her. All I know is that at that moment, my conflicting feelings about being there were forgotten. Her apprehension over losing her third child and her inability to communicate with the people around her became my new concern.

 

My early school days helped me relate to her situation. I will never forget the time I was sitting, Indian style, in front of my classroom. Some children held my arms against the wall while others poked fun at me in a language I did not understand. The frustration of being forced to contain my feelings inside was despicable.

 

I was glad to be there for her at such an important moment. Her worry was greater than her pain and she needed someone who would listen to her. What made me happier was her asking me to be present during the ultrasound test.

 

When one of the doctors said, "The baby's moving," there was no need to translate.

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The huge smile on her sweaty face, her watery eyes, and our firm grip told us that we both understood.

 

It was then that I saw medicine from a new perspective. I experienced the excitement of helping, not curing a person. I had never been so close to a stranger before.

 

Each Youth Science Program student was to visit the emergency room once, but I felt that I had to go back. I talked to people who acknowledged my interest, and I was allowed to return a few more times. Each case was a special gift to me. I discovered that making a difference in a person's life gives mine more purpose.

 

I never imagined that in that place I had initially feared so much, I would be taught the real beauty of being a doctor. I am now, more than ever, willing to try new things.


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