By Dr. Kimberly A. Kirkland
Associate Dean of Student Affairs
What a few months it has been since our last issue of Clinical Connections. From the July tragedy at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital to the devastation that Hurricane Irma wrought on St. Maarten this September, AUC students have faced major challenges over the last several months.
In October, I was part of a team that welcomed students, faculty, and staff to Chicago after being evacuated from Sint Maarten. The experience was humbling and I was overwhelmed by the resilience and dedication of this group. Despite all that they had been through, humor and joy, humanity and empathy, and care and compassion were still found in abundance. In this issue of Clinical Connections, you will hear from second semester student Juhi Patel about what is was like to ride out a category 5 hurricane on AUC's medical sciences campus. You will also hear about the impact of Irma on clinical students who experienced the tragedy from afar.
With every crisis, there is opportunity. Throughout the last few months, I have been working with Student Affairs and Wellness to provide comprehensive support to students as they face not only recent tragic events but also the everyday challenges of medical school. AUC has contracted with Dr. Stevan Weine, a psychiatrist based at the University of Illinois-Chicago specializing in post-disaster recovery, to design and implement a comprehensive wellness program for AUC students affected by Hurricane Irma. AUC also recently welcomed the addition of Dr. Scott Rinker as our new Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. Dr. Rinker’s background not only in student affairs but also counseling and student wellness will provide students with even more support as they navigate the stresses of medical education.
This semester's edition starts with a scholarly article on other medical schools' approaches to improve medical student wellbeing and the impact those interventions are having. AUC continues to learn from these programs and has also recently effected changes to our own curriculum and programming to promote student wellness. These include changes to the mandatory attendance policy for medical science classes, implementation of a standardized midterm clerkship assessment form for clinical sciences, and expanding wellness support for all students.
I find the following quote from Dr. Louis Lasagna in his revision of the Hippocratic Oath and referenced in the scholarly article included in this newsletter to be especially meaningful, particularly in challenging times:
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
Warmth, sympathy, and understanding should not be reserved for just your patients, but are also internal resources that can be used to improve your own wellbeing. Another quote that I am often reminded of is, “Medical school is hard. Otherwise, everyone would do it.”
Medical school is hard. There is no way around that, but please know that you have faculty, staff, administrators, and wellness counselors who are very invested in your success and wellbeing. If you have personal or academic concerns and don’t know who to contact, please reach out to me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My very best to you as always.