After months of preparation and a couple weeks of traveling, I never thought I'd see my last day of Vanderbilt Summer Academy. After getting used to the Commons, I had one of my last breakfast meals today. It signalled the start of a bittersweet reaction chain going on today.
Since I've already taken the VUMC tour, and went to both the clinic and the OR, I watched an HBO film called Wit. Starring Emma Thompson, she plays Professor Vivian Bearing of English Literature who is suddenly diagnosed with metastatic Stage IV ovarian cancer. Instead of having caring doctors, she's treated as an experiment and nothing more. And the only person who seems to care about her general well being is her nurse, Susie Monahan. Over time, Vivian realizes that being an intellectual is nothing compared to human compassion and soon dies after. Instead of portraying doctors as the hero, they soon became heartless human beings who had little emotion for the severity of their patient's sickness. While doing anything possible to save a person's life, doctors in the film forgot to care about the effects its treatments places on their patients. As Jake stressed, it's important to build a real relationship with patients. If doctors never mixed business with pleasure, then they'd be like the doctors in the film.
After having our last lunch at the Commons, all of us created another concept map on obesity. This time, we did our best to put what we learned during these past couple weeks onto a piece of paper within ten minutes. Since our first map on the first day, we did a whole lot better. I've learned an excess amount of knowledge during our VSA stay under Jon, Jake, and Mary and our lovely guest speakers. If I didn't know anything about obesity since then, that would have been a real shame.
During the last few hours of class, we all reflected on the last couple weeks. With everyone going to their respective small group instructors, each of us got individual feedback on our overall performance. In this case, I spoke with Jon. This was the moment that hit me the most. I couldn't believe that it was already time to look back at what we did when we started class not too long ago. While they gave us individual feedback, we were also given VSA student surveys, and an additional sheet for Jon. Since he'll be taking a gap year of medical school for a degree in education as well, he asked us to critique his performance as an instructor. And without having been trained to teach kids, he's already done a phenomenal job of teaching us.
Heading to the Wyatt Rotunda, things became even more real. Since the first day, all of VSA was given a mission of acting on the three Cs: Challenge, Choice, and Community. For the duration of our stay, I'd say we acted on each of them. Not only have we challenged ourselves and make good choices in the process, but VSA session three has become a real community within three weeks. I can't imagine making bonds like these under these kind of time constraints. And for several of the individuals who were front and center for being fourth or fifth years, I can't imagine what was going through their heads. As a first/last time student of VSA, I was already feeling saddened by the idea of parting ways with such incredible people. I can't stand the idea of actually leaving and being back in California by tomorrow evening. By the end of our closing ceremonies, some Med School 101 students gathered to take a group picture with Jon, Jake, Mary, and Vivian. Since Jake left earlier before heading off to the closing ceremonies, none of us were able to say our goodbyes. Surprisingly enough, we all saw each other again while exiting the building. This should be a good indicator of whether or not we'll all keep in touch.
Today reminded me a lot of the last day of school at a regular school. The difference however, is the fact that some of us may never return to VSA or wait another year. As patient as I am, I wouldn't be able to control myself for another year. And since I'm a rising senior, VSA won't be an option anymore. Although this may be my last day, it won't be the last of my encounters with these people. I won't let that happen.