Come Back for Lunch?
A student talks about a nursing home visit
During our POM class last fall, we had a day scheduled to go to a nursing home and meet the residents. I was particularly busy that week and remember grumbling throughout the day that I had to spend time in the nursing home that afternoon. When I arrived at the nursing home I was introduced to an elderly woman who had been there for over 20 years. The nurse told me that the woman had straightened her room all morning (while I was grumbling) to prepare for my visit.
The visit lasted longer than scheduled. A nurse had to ask me to leave. The patient and I had laughed for over an hour. She had a lifetime of great stories to share. She was visibly upset when I had to leave and asked for my cell phone number so she could call me up and invite me to lunch.
While just a bullet point in the schedule of a busy medical student, these visits can be important occasions for lonely patients. For me, this was the most powerful moment during the first year of medical school. It drove home the lessons we were taught during POM-the “human” side of medicine should be just as important as the science. And fun.