Brigitte Seeley-Messick’s Summer of Service Response

I spent this summer working at Columbia University Medical Center on 168th street and  Broadway in the Division of Nephrology & Rheumatology. Nephrology is the study of the function and diseases of the kidney. I really enjoyed my service because everyday was different. I worked under a nephrologist and the regulatory manager of the division so I essentially did whatever I was assigned but I also went on rounds with the various nephrologists. My jobs ranged from taking the height and weight of patients, to entering notes, to making graphs, to making the patients as comfortable as possible, 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 on rounds. I was an extra set of ears for the patients and an extra set of hands for the doctors. This helped to move appointments and visits along. Considering my own medical history I was able to offer insight that the doctors often were not knowledgeable about to the extent that I was. I also did some office work like filing and filling out paperwork for clinical trials and doing general organizational tasks around the office, but that was not what I spent the majority of my day doing.

Whereas last year I did a lot of office work, this year I spent most of my time with the doctors seeing patients. I went to every intensive care unit in the hospital and visited every patient that had notes on their sheet about their kidneys. While it was hard seeing people in such terrible conditions, helping them and talking to them, and doing all that I could for them, was easily more rewarding than anything I have ever done. Seeing these patients makes you reevaluate your life and all that you have. Every time I see these patients and I humbled. I renewed my interest in medicine and payed more attention in the past so I could absorb as much material as possible. I plan to do pre-med in college and so that work is the perfect preparation and exposure. The work environment is unlike any other because all of the work is group work. The work feels important and you feel needed while giving back. That feeling is priceless and the experiences I have had working with these doctors all while performing service for the past two summers are invaluable.

Note: I could not add pictures because I could not take pictures of the patients I was helping.