Bijan Salari (’16)
B.S., Columbia University
Running, Sports, Exploring, Art
I have an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister. I’m the odd one in the middle.
- 4/23/13: Venturing out into the Dayton Community
- 3/23/13: Compassion and the Power of Listening — Healer’s Art
- 1/6/13: A Unique and Challenging Opportunity
Venturing out into the Dayton Community
On our way home from volunteering, a fellow medical student said something that I thought was very meaningful and worth passing on to others. To paraphrase, she said, “us volunteering on Fridays makes the Monday through Thursday completely worth it.” Of course, by “Monday through Thursday,” she refers to the marathon of lectures we engage in week after week (bless the joyous 10 minute breaks we get). There are so many excellent volunteering opportunities for medical students, and I can attest to the fact that these volunteering opportunities reinvigorate my passion for helping the men and women of our society, and particularly those who are underserved.
Monday of this past week, I volunteered at the St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter, where I helped the children of the homeless with homework. Wow! These youngsters were some of the most inspired and intelligent children I have ever met in my life. And while I am ashamed that my multiplication skills have waned since starting medical school (and thus the kids may have been teaching me more than I, them), I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on their faces and genuine happiness they showed during our time spent together. This was a very meaningful experience for me, and I hope that I was able to positively impact these children who are making the most of a truly tragic situation.
I also had the chance to volunteer for a second time at the Reach Out clinic in downtown Dayton. This time, I was helping out in the Hypertension clinic. In the midst of Healthy Habits week here at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, we have been learning about the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles in preventing diseases like hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, and many others. It was very encouraging to see that many adults were motivated to make changes to their lifestyle, some who came in had made significant progress (we even clapped for a patient who had lost weight and was now decreasing medication!), and some were learning about the possibility of change — how small adjustments are actually very feasible in most peoples’ lives.
I am very thankful for the volunteering opportunities that are available to us medical students, and I am excited to continue to reach out to the children and adults of our community.
Compassion and the Power of Listening — Healer’s Art
Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences thus far in my first year of medical school, other than trying to find the pterygopalatine fossa on a human skull, has been listening to some of the stories of my colleagues and friends. Here at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, most students enroll in an optional course called Healer’s Art. Every Wednesday night for several weeks, we students and faculty put aside our busy lives to share and listen to more intimate stories about our past, present and future.
It impresses me that not only are the medical students willing to devote time to the course, but the busy faculty and community physicians, many of whom are Wright State alumni, sacrifice their own precious time to participate as well. This indicated to me, and I hope indicates to anyone who is reading, that our faculty and community physicians contain what I believe to be honorable qualities of a physician, and perhaps most importantly, are teaching, reinforcing, and ultimately passing these qualities on to us, the next generation of physicians.
So what are these qualities? Two of the most important attributes that stuck with me after taking the Healer’s Art course were compassion and the power of listening. I believe compassion to be treating each patient not as a disease, or even as an isolated individual, but as a human being who has a family and friends, and that the holistic treatment of a patient is as important, if not more important than the treatment of that patient’s disease. It didn’t really surprise me that my peers showed a great deal of compassion when listening to my own stories, and I certainly hope I did the same for them. And the power of listening; physicians have such tremendous responsibility in society that often we believe there must be something we can do or say to help treat someone’s pain or ease their suffering. Ironically, sometimes a willingness to step back and just listen to your patients for a moment may be all that is necessary at times. During our group discussions in Healer’s Art, everyone was so respectful and willing to listen, without interjecting even if it may have been tempting. Certainly I believe that physicians should do anything in their power to help their patients, but sometimes those actions need only be passive, as a genuine willingness to listen.
So there you have it. There are so many excellent opportunities to grow as a medical student, and I believe many of these opportunities stem, ultimately, from the core values of this institution.
A Unique and Challenging Opportunity
As I reflect on my first semester of medical school at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, I often find myself thinking a lot about where I was, where I am now, and where I have the potential to be in the near future.
A lot of things about me have not changed since I first set foot in White Hall; for example, my personality of being respectful, a bit too nice — to the point where it can get awkward — slightly shy, and extremely resourceful. And I think the static nature of our personalities is a genuine thing that makes us unique and ultimately keeps our medical school class freshly diverse and open for discourse.
And at the same time, I am not the same man that I was six months ago, both in body and mind. While there are physical and mental stresses associated with the demanding nature of medical school, I have discovered my own unique ways of balancing these stresses by integrating activities into my life — some that I expected to integrate and some that I would have never guessed I would try. Whether it be running to music, watching movies, going out for coffee, doing yoga, or spending a night with friends, getting through medical school requires balance, and I don’t think there is any way around that.
It’s funny. When I took our first course in medical school, Human Structure or anatomy, I enjoyed learning the material, but I still viewed most of what I was doing as “work.” Yet, when my non-medical friends and family asked me about what I had learned, I found myself instead thinking about how blessed I am to even have this unique and challenging opportunity of exploring the human body in such intricate detail. Of course, there will be times where we students are swimming in medical details; yet, regardless of how lost we may think we are, we can always step back and think about the exciting opportunities that we have had, are having, and will have in the future.
Therefore, this is the way I hope to view my medical education in the future. I hope to continue to step back and think about how exciting most of this material really is, and to exert my passion for learning and understanding, which is something that has been a part of me since I was born. I am very excited to see what the next semester and the following years of my life will be like here at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.