I chose Family Medicine because it allowed me to see the whole family from birth to death. When I asked my attending Dr. Bryan Stamm over a year ago if they take Residents on Rotaplast missions, I never expected that I would ever learn so much about what family medicine really means.
On the first day I was extremely apprehensive and nervous that I would miss something or that my knowledge would not be adequate. At home I saw how our privileged country detects the cleft condition during pregnancy and deals with it early on. Coming here I expected to see infants and small children, but I soon was amazed to see teens and even adults who have never been treated. I saw more cleft palates and lips in one day than I have seen in my entire medical training up to this point.
We not only care for the patients, but also their families, the hospital staff, and last but not least our amazing Rotaplast team. We have treated over half our staff for various illnesses, injuries, or other ailments as every role here is vital and we can’t lose one or we chance decreasing the number of people we can help.
I came on this mission to learn about cleft lip and palates, but instead I learned much more than just pre- and post-operative care for these children. First and foremost I learned: be flexible, think outside the box, patience is a virtue, cry with your patients, and teamwork is the only way to accomplish anything for the greater good. The biggest personal lesson I learned from my faculty, the team, and most importantly the patients is to believe in myself. These children have endured the most impossible odds and they trust me to help them.
They have been bullied and picked on. They have been banished or cast off. Yet they are the bravest, most patient, and loving children I have ever met and are forever grateful for even the smallest amount of care or attention we can give to them. I will forever be touched by this experience and what they have taught me not only as a family physician, but as a person.
— Dr. Amie Shaw,Pediatrician, Spokane, Wash.