Finding Inspiration in Recovery by Nicole Song

Posted on: April 24, 2023Philadelphia


A brown brick building that says "The Behavioral Wellness Center at Girard" with green trees and some parked cars in the foreground
Fairmount Primary Care at Girard Medical Center

What do you want to be when you grow up? The question has been asked countless times starting from when I was in elementary school. At first, my answer varied depending on the whims of my childhood interest; everything from zookeeper to astronaut was an exciting possibility. As I grew older, however, my love for the human sciences and helping others began to intersect in a seemingly perfect profession: a doctor.

As I continue to explore this career path, I find myself serving as a National Health Corp member at Fairmount Primary Care at the Girard Medical Center. Working as a care navigator, my primary role consists of screening for social determinants of health and connecting patients with resources. This work can take on many forms whether it is filling out applications for free phone services, collecting and distributing clothing donations, or referring patients to food pantries and meal services. I also work closely with recovery houses and other recovery support resources. A large portion of our patient population struggles with substance use disorder which further complicates their care. As I assist with some of their more concrete needs like food and shelter, I also have the privilege of listening to these patients’ experiences living with addiction. They speak about the stigma of their condition, distrust in medical professionals, and lack of support from their families.

A group of people in blue shirts holding a banner that says "National Recovery Month." The group is standing between two pillars of balloons and below balloons that spell out the word recovery. Some members of the group are waving purple flags.
Recovery Walk 2023 at Fairmount Primary Care at GMC

While I was confident in my decision to pursue medicine, my time at Fairmount Primary Care at the Girard Medical Center has made me reconsider what patient population I would like to serve. Hearing the stories of our patients made me realize the unique struggles that come with stigmatized illnesses. I hope to work with marginalized communities that most desperately need it, especially patients struggling with substance use disorder. I am inspired by the doctors and healthcare team who approach each patient with compassion and understanding. Now when someone asks what I want to do now that I’ve graduated, I have a clear answer: a doctor that is there for the patients who get overlooked.

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801 W. Girard Avenue
801 W. Girard Avenue