Letter to my future self – LRI Internship Series

This post is written by one of our Baycrest Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care summer interns, as part of a reflective series. Read about the interns’ experiences on Twitter by following #LRIinternship2015. Check out the first article in the series

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I have been told that it is very important to continually reflect on my experiences.

A few weeks ago, as a summer intern at the Baycrest CLRI, I was asked to write a letter to my future self. I took this opportunity to reflect on what I have learned so far and how I hope to shape my future. As I began writing, I became overwhelmed with emotions and happy thoughts. I have learned so much over the past few weeks. But it does not stop here. I have a long journey a head of me as I begin medical school.

It is my pleasure to share with you the letter to my future self. Hope you enjoy!

Dear Tina Felfeli,

It has been many years since you were first exposed to the world of medicine. By now, you are probably a physician, scientist, wife, mother and perhaps grandmother to beautiful children. You have had invaluable experiences and have had the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of many people. Although you have been able to achieve all of these things, I hope in doing so, you remember to value the past knowledge you have gained at the very beginning of your career. As I remind you of this knowledge, I sit here in present day as an intern at Baycrest and three weeks away from starting medical school at University of Toronto. Here are a few things I want you to remember as you develop personally and professionally over the next years.

Remember to be observant. Medicine entails more than technology and science, it is rather an art that embraces knowledge and empathy. Observation skills are important in medicine, and often provide an immediate insight to a patient’s problems. Over the next years, take every opportunity to work closely with patients to ensure they feel understood, comforted and involved in all aspects of the healthcare provided to them. A positive therapeutic relationship with your patients and their families is a critical feature of successful healthcare outcomes as it creates the best opportunities for diagnosing verbal and non-verbal cues, conveying messages, addressing concerns and providing social support.

Remember to listen. As you move forward in your career you will become much more knowledgeable. Although this knowledge may come in handy when treating your patients, the lessons you learn from your patients is what truly makes you a better healthcare provider. Do your very best to consider your patients’ values, needs, cultural beliefs, and medical wishes. Never forget the importance of listening to your patient, since no two patients are alike.

Remember to advocate for others. You have always wanted to be the voice for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Whether it be due to physical and/or psychological limitations or simply because they are afraid, you will learn to recognize the needs of others, and respond to individual patient health issues as part of patient-centered care. It is your duty to improve the overall health of your patients and the society you serve.

Remember to educate. You are the result of an accumulation of what others have taught you. Continue to engage in a lifelong pursuit of mastering your domain of expertise. Always seek to learn and improve your knowledge. More importantly, take the time to educate those around you. It is important that you facilitate the education of your patients, colleagues and community. Utilize your passion for research and interest in scholarly activities in order to contribute to the creation, dissemination, application and translation of medical knowledge.

Remember to collaborate. You already understand the true value of working with others as a team. You have been able to meet some of the most talented colleagues and scholars in your field. Embrace every opportunity to work with others and make contributions to your team. It is essential for you to be able to collaborate effectively with patients, families, and an interprofessional team of expert health professionals for the development of optimal healthcare strategies.

Remember that your health is important. As your life moves forward, the stress of work, family and friendships may take precedent over your own health. But it is important to put as much work into taking care of yourself as you put into taking care of those around you. Continue to take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle which will allow you to remain active as you age. Not only will this set an example for others to follow, but it will allow you to continue doing what you love most late into life and that is making a contribution to the field of geriatrics.

Remember your passion. You never entered medicine to make life saving miracles, but to have a positive impact in the lives of others. Whether you are making a small change by holding a patient’s hand and providing them with the support they need through a difficult time, or making a more profound change in someone’s life by providing a life changing treatment, always stay true to your passion. You have worked hard to get to where you are today and your passion is what has driven you so far. Let your passion and dedication drive your future endeavors in a positive direction.

Reflect, reflect and reflect. I hope you take what I have said, critique, evaluate and learn in order to improve yourself moving forward. Reflection is one of the key ways that you will grow both personally and professionally. It is important that you incorporate positive experiences into your daily living and learn from your failures.

And lastly, aim to be a better you everyday!

Most sincerely,

Tina Felfeli

Baycrest’s CLRI 2015 Summer Intern, Western University Alumni, First Year Medical Student at University of Toronto, Future Physician and Health Advocate