By Brent Tatomir, OMS-II
Western University of Health Sciences / College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific
Years before starting medical school, I was fascinated by the use of technology to improve health outcomes. Each night, Dad’s stories of the newest laparoscopic tools that had saved a life filled our home. In college, the stories were transformed into first-hand experience when I was able to study abroad in Israel, volunteering with Shevet Achim, a non-profit in Jerusalem that coordinated heart surgeries for underprivileged children.
One of my favorite patients was Essa, a soccer-loving Iraqi boy of fourteen who came to Jerusalem for life-saving heart surgery. After his surgery in Tel Aviv and three later complications, I knew innovative practice was his only hope. While the Gaza conflict produced missile raids and a deprivation of basic needs, a team of resilient Jewish surgeons transcended countless barriers with out-of-the-box thinking and a deeply caring attitude: they employed fresh thinking inside the OR using a new surgical technique, and outside the OR to expedite patient travel. I saw how medicine created a venue caring in a manner which traversed racial, cultural, and linguistic barriers.
Almost five years later, in the summer after my first year of medical school, I again had the privilege of witnessing innovation in healthcare. I met my classmates in Cuzco, Peru for a week of rural medical clinics. Hundreds of miles from an OR, innovation remained an essential component of care delivery. By streamlining our triage, vitals, and diagnostic stations, we saw over 300 patients each day in our four-hour morning clinic, with only 17 medical students and a handful of paramedic students.
Marcella and Tito, a ten-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother, from the rural town of Chinchero, Peru, were lost among the chaos of our Wednesday clinic. Many of the older patients pushed ahead of them in line because of their timid demeanor and small stature. I noticed them waiting a while, and called them over. With broken Spanish, I conducted a history and physical and learned Marcella had not been eating due to stomach pain, and Tito had a rash that spanned his head and neck. Finding suitable treatments in a resource-limited and rural context demanded creative thinking. Recalling skills learned in my Osteopathic Principles and Practices class, I was able to palpate the girl’s stomach and release her thoraco-abdominal diaphragm. I hoped this would help alleviate some of the restriction and open up her lymphatic flow to reduce inflammation. After consulting the attending physician, I gave her an anti-parasitic and the boy some cream. Through quick, in-the-moment thinking, our team was able to dispense quality care and overcome obstacles common in global health work.
One of the reasons I love medicine is its ever-evolving nature. Advancements in healthcare demand constant revision, creative thinking and innovation so that, as physicians, we may deploy the best quality care most effectively. In this age of globalization, more than ever, innovative thinking contains the opportunity to equalize healthcare access, quality, and cost globally. I feel compelled to help people and believe medicine is the best avenue because of its tangible helping nature. By incorporating the most relevant technological advances and employing creativity, we can enact change, fresh ideas, new methods, perspectives and approaches. I look forward to contributing to the future of medicine.