Each summer there's a great story bringing together the Friendship Centers with pre-med students. It's an amazing experience for everybody involved. It brings students into our community, promoting a real-life experience with health care. At the same time they're exposed to some terrific volunteer physicians who have dedicated themselves to helping the community.
This summer's students are part of Notre Dame’s Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP). They'll be in Sarasota for eight weeks working closely with volunteer physicians at The Rubin Friendship Center for Healthy Aging Clinic. They'll have new insights and information in working with the health needs of older adults, invaluable experiences, as they enter medical school and choose their career paths.
Krista, who is from Sacramento, CA, is a pre-med and theology major, and Kelly, a native Floridian from Satellite Beach, is majoring in applied math and biochemistry.
They are seeing beyond the science of medicine to the human side of health care. “At the Friendship Centers’ clinic the focus is on the patient,” Kelly said. “Doctors spend as much as an hour, or even longer, with patients at the clinic, and really know their patients.” They also have time to mentor students.
One of the highlights for Krista has been working with Dr. Donald Snyder at Resurrection House twice a week. “The patients are so appreciative, and they love Dr. Snyder, because he takes time to listen to them,” she said. “It’s interesting to get to know them, and know their stories, to treat the whole patient rather than just the symptoms.”
Both Krista and Kelly are also interested in public health issues, and appreciate the opportunity to work with diverse populations in terms of age, economic situation, race and gender.
In addition to experience in the clinic, the students are shadowing local physicians to learn about different medical specialties.
“The more learning experiences we have, the better we will be able to provide compassionate, patient-centered care,” Kelly said.
“The SSLP is a long-standing tradition at our clinics,” said Friendship Centers’ Director of Health Systems Rosa Crespo. “Each year, Notre Dame students remind us how important it is for our future physicians to be compassionate and empathetic. Exposing students to patients at our clinic and to serving the homeless at Resurrection House affords them the opportunity to see the whole patient and gain deeper understanding.”