In addition to its threat to societal growth and harmony, social inequality can arise in medicine when prejudice is tolerated in healthcare settings or certain people are denied the opportunity to achieve their best health. I have always felt strongly about the injustice of treating others with prejudice and the unequal allocation of opportunities to certain members of society. For this reason, I chose social inequality and human rights as my GLI Global Theme and Challenge. Through my internship at Mountain States Diabetes Clinic, I ensured that all patients felt equally cared for and respected.
In the summer of 2021 I began my internship at Mountain States Diabetes Clinic. As an intern for Dr. Miller, my main responsibilities included drawing blood, patient intake, and collection and documentation of vital signs. We mostly saw patients in her clinic, but there were times when I joined her for a home visit or met her at a clinic in Hamilton, where she sees patients that live in the Bitterroot Valley. I have experience working as a phlebotomist and nurse assistant, so I felt pretty comfortable with certain tasks, such as vitals signs and lab draws. Even so, I gained an extensive amount of knowledge and experience that is undeniably valuable.
Possibly the most beneficial experience that came from my internship was connecting with and learning from patients who are veterans and patients with diabetes. At the hospital, I come across these patients often, but I was never able to talk with them for long or learn more about their lives and diagnoses. At Dr. Miller’s clinic, certain days were dedicated to veteran exams. I was able to room these patients, collect their vital signs, and draw their blood. Many veterans shared their experiences with me, allowing me to reflect on the hidden trauma of people around us and the importance of being kind and sensitive to all. It is always a challenge to listen to a person’s pain and determine the best way to respond, but I have found that the more patients I listen to, the better I am at being an active, comforting listener. Furthermore, the clinic’s focus on diabetes care allowed me to learn about common medications, specific medical knowledge, and practice new skills, such as collecting and processing an A1C blood sample.
Learning from Dr. Miller and helping to care for her patients was an experience I will always hold dear to my heart. Dr. Miller is the best doctor I know and I can sincerely say I look up to her in every way. My excitement to start physician assistant school continues to grow because of my work at Mountain States Diabetes and the reassurance that my educators could be as caring and supportive as Hayley Miller. This internship has made me a better caregiver, student, and future physician assistant, and words cannot fully express how grateful I am for that.