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JCHE residents impact and inspire Tufts Medical Students

Posted: November 14, 2010

If Maggie Westfal is an example of the next generation of physicians, we can all breathe a bit easier.  Maggie is one of the 200 first year students at Tufts Medical School who participated in a collaborative project with JCHE.  As part of Tufts’ Medical Interviewing and the Doctor – Patient Relationship course, the students have spent Thursday afternoons for 10 weeks meeting with JCHE tenants, hearing their stories and learning how to develop a rapport.  

Maggie considers the experience to be invaluable.  “Usually, med students are unable to have patient interaction until their third year.  It has been so helpful to have this experience first semester of first year.  It will help me be more comfortable with patients in the long run.” Asked how the course may impact her decisions about medical specialties, Maggie says that geriatrics is certainly a possibility.  “This is such an exciting time to be in medicine as the baby boomer population ages.  It’s something I think about often.”  In response to a question about the experience working with Coleman House residents, Maggie is emphatic.  “I am more than grateful for Thursday afternoons.  Every week, this experience confirmed for me why I am in med school!”

At a recent end-of-course celebration at JCHE’s Coleman House, the medical students and JCHE tenants had a chance to talk with one another about what they had gained from the experience.  Several students spoke to the group.  One student commented that he knows he will work with many patients overtime who have problems without cures.  But, he was relieved to think that the number one concern expressed by the older adults was the need to be heard by their medical providers.  He remarked, “Happily, we can cure the problem of ‘no one listens to me.’ ”  Another student told the tenants “do not that they should not ‘underestimate the impact you have had on our education.”

Several of the Coleman House tenants also had words to share.  Connie Rubin expressed her enthusiasm for working with the students and told them “Thanks for listening to us.”  Natalie Lichtenstein shared her philosophy, “Good medicine comes from a doctor’s heart.”

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