Every fourth Friday of the month, the health centers of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) close for the morning, much to the consternation of patients who line up outside registration at 7:30 a.m. expecting regular business hours. The health department dedicates this time to staff trainings. Once a quarter, during this time, the physicians and nurse practitioners attend a Continuing Medical Education (CME) session. National Health Corps members serving with PDPH have the opportunity to attend these sessions. Hoping as I am to practice medicine one day, the professional development opportunities have become one of my favorite components of the NHC program. The lectures, workshops and conferences I’ve attended at institutions around the city put what we learn from our service activities into a broader public health context and give me a glimpse of what I hope is to come in my time as a physician.
I attended the April 28 PDPH CME conference at Thomas Jefferson University with some of my NHC colleagues and the PDPH providers. In the first session, Dr. Behzad Pavri, a cardiologist at Jefferson, spoke about commonly missed diagnoses when reviewing electrocardiograms. His PowerPoint was full of ECG waves and arrows pointing to various wave components. Dr. Pavri was an animated teacher. He became very excited when he spoke, walking from the lectern and pointing to all the abnormal P waves. I didn’t have any training in reading ECGs, but I got the sense that the P waves are very important. While I didn’t yet understand much of the medical science, the lecture fascinated me. This was partly due to Dr. Pavri’s enthusiasm for the subject matter and partly due to my own nerdy interest in medical knowledge.
Trainings like these have greatly enriched my NHC experience. I think it’s safe to say that all of the NHC members have had life-changing encounters with patients and clients that illuminate the humanism behind community service. In fact, you can read about many encounters in these blog pages. I too have been inspired by the people I’ve met. But I’m also reminded that public health and medicine are sciences whose practitioners need a good knowledge of the latest innovative research in their field and best practice guidelines, along with a large dose of empathy to care for their patients. As the home of five medical schools with their affiliated hospitals and countless health-focused nonprofits, Philadelphia is a hotspot for medical knowledge. Through NHC I've not only been able to connect Philadelphians to important health services, but I’ve also learned from experts in the fields of adolescent health, sex education, health policy, and asthma prevention, just to name a few. I'm better prepared for medical school and a lifetime of service and learning.
This blog post was written by NHC Philadelphia member Michelle Wan.
Michelle serves as a Patient Advocate at Philadelphia Department of Public Health Ambulatory Health Services - Health Center 2.