Brigitte’s Summer of Service Reflection

This summer I worked at Columbia University Medical Center on 168th street and  Broadway in the Division of Nephrology & Rheumatology. For those of you that don’t know, nephrology is the study of the function and diseases of the kidney. What I loved about my service was that I had a huge array of tasks. I worked under a nephrologist and the regulatory manager of the division so I essentially did whatever I was assigned. My jobs ranged from taking the height and weight of patients, to entering notes, to making graphs, to organizing clinical study binders to organizing entire closets full of medical equipment. Overall, I spent the majority of the time either helping out in an appointment or making graphs showing creatinine levels over time for patients on a trial medication. I made sure that patients were comfortable and did what I could to aid the doctors. This helped to move appointments along and the doctors were pleasantly surprised that we fit in more patients than they had imagined! That was by far the most fun. While I was doing some of the other work like sorting various syringes I wasn’t thinking about what an incredible opportunity I was having and how much I was learning.

 My absolute highlight of the experience was one day after I had seen patients with the doctor and a medical student the medical student said I could go on rounds with him. I got to go to every intensive care unit in the hospital and visit every patient that had something off about their kidney as indicated on their sheets. This was incredibly difficult to see people in such awful conditions but helping them and talking to them was more rewarding than anything I have ever done. Later that day I went home and sobbed for quite I while but once I pulled myself together I realized just how far I had come. I had learned that you cannot take anything in life for granted because life is so short and you have to savor every minute of it and savor your health as best as you can because you are so lucky to have it. This was a turning point in which I realized that because of my good health I should give back all the time to those less fortunate. I want my way to be through providing medical services. That one day has changed my entire life focus. I am looking in to colleges with good pre-med programs now which is something I would have never imagined doing in the past. Before I had started working in the hospital I worked with a pediatrician for two weeks which showed me how much I love working in a hospital. Everything feels like a group effort and your work seems so important and the feeling of helping people in need is just the best thing. I really could not have asked for a more rewarding community service experience.



2 thoughts on “Brigitte’s Summer of Service Reflection

  1. Brigitte, having myself spent a lot of time in hospitals as a patient at one period of my life I can tell you that your work in the nephrology department was absolutely substantive and important for the patients. Every additional pair of intelligent hands makes a difference to the experience of the people who need help in that setting. You described this experience eloquently and I appreciate reading about it.

  2. Brigitte,
    What a turning point and pivotal experience for you! Thanks for sharing. I am glad that your exposure to working in a hospital versus a doctor’s office has helped you find a focus and develop a clearer vision of the type of work you find most rewarding. As a person with systemic lupus, I am glad you aspire to such important work.

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