This past summer, I was given the opportunity to work with some of the brightestand best known doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Babies Hospital, one of the mostprestigious hospitals in the nation. Since my doctor knew of my interest in themedical profession, she offered me a job in her division, PediatricGastroenterology and Nutrition.
Every day I would go with the doctors tosee patients, attend rounds with them, and help with their research. I wasfinally able to see what it was like to be on the opposite side of the examtable.
Once a week, the division would hold a Medicaid clinic for patientswho could not afford the private fees. I saw children with numerous illnesses.Some were life-threatening disorders such as cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome,cystic fibrosis. This first-hand exposure to severely ill patients taught me areal sense of the strength and composure I never believed I possessed.
Iwill never forget a four-year-old girl I visited one day. She had been in thehospital since birth, and she was so eager for attention, she made me stay withher all day. Although she was so young, she taught me courage and the will tokeep on living. More important, she made me realize not to take everyday things,like a family and a real home, for granted.
I am extremely grateful to allthe patients and doctors who gave me the chance to learn from them and taught mewhat they must endure each day, and what it is like to work in a hospitalenvironment.
You cannot imagine the satisfaction felt when you encouragesick children to fight for their lives and then see them recover. I don't thinkthere is anything more rewarding than saving a young child's life, if not throughactual medicine, then through the power of hope and compassion. I cannot waituntil I am one day able to heal patients of my own when I become adoctor.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.