Monday, December 26, 2005

Finding Inspiration

As 2005 winds to a close, and we all reflect upon the past year, it may be helpful to think of something inspirational. You won't find it in the newspaper, or on CNN, and I will mention Fox News only to highlight the dearth of positive develpments in the world.

Even so, there are sources of inspiration, if only one takes the time to look. On the University of Michigan Health Systems news site, there is a story entitled: Medical student flexes muscles.

This is Jaffer Odeh, one of the leading rugby players on the team, Great Lakes Storm. Jaffer was born in Stockbridge, Michgan, and was injured in an automobile accident while a senior in high school. The rugby team he plays on is composed entirely of persons in wheelchairs.

But that is not all. Mr. Odeh is also a third-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School. By all accounts, he's a good student, and an exceptional athlete.

There is no doubt that the world is populated with inspiring persons such as Mr. Odeh. Finding them is a gift, but it is a gift that we can get for ourselves. All it takes is a few moments to look, and to listen.

This is sort of like the advice to stop and smell the roses, except it is not advised that one stop and smell rugby players, at least not during a game.

And when it comes to listening, here is what Mr. Odeh has to say about relating to patients:
“I’m more humble than I would have been before the accident. I really connect to the patients. At first, I wondered if the patients would be apprehensive seeing me, a student doctor, in a wheelchair, but no – there’s an instant connection. They know without any words being spoken that I’ll be able to relate to them because I’ve gone through something catastrophic,” he says.
I know that all medical schools struggle to teach their students how to relate well with patients. It sounds as though Jaffer is off to a good start. Let's hope that other physicians can learn something from his experiences.