Skip to main content

Pandemic gives student new appreciation for call to serve

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, student Mark Mandel, MD Class of 2022, was mainly focused on his looming Step 1 exam.

But the spread of the virus, and the response by medical practitioners, reminded him of the importance of service and sacrifice on the part of all healthcare providers — reflections that drove home messages delivered in Practice of Medicine (APM) and Patient-Centered Medicine (PCM) classes taught by Denny Dawgert, MD.

“I thought my ‘big science’ classes were the ones that would most directly affect the type of physician I would be,” Mr. Mandel says, explaining that by “type,” he means medical specialty. “Then, when the pandemic hit, I saw doctors and nurses — some of my own family members — going to work every day at great risk to themselves. It made me wonder if I’m brave enough or compassionate enough to match their efforts and sacrifices.”

He adds, “COVID has opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes you may be a patient’s only hope, and you have to act in a manner that prioritizes the health and autonomy of your patient while quelling panic and preventing others from being infected — all while following ever-changing guidelines.”

Healthcare providers’ response to the pandemic also reinforced Mr. Mandel’s understanding of classroom-based lessons about the importance of teamwork.

Dealing with COVID-19 is “too big a job for a single person and underscores the necessity of both interpersonal communication and interprofessional teamwork,” Mr. Mandel notes. “It’s all of the things in the APM course that will truly define what type of doctor I will be.”

He adds, “Perhaps my classmates already felt this way and were able to appreciate the gravity of what being a doctor means from the start. On a personal level, the pandemic has made me feel unknowledgeable and uneducated, but more importantly it has inspired me to extend my medical education beyond the textbook. I wanted our faculty to know how much more I am now able to appreciate everything they do to create the PCM and APM content and environment.”

Mark Mandel, MD Class of 2022