Resiliency during the pandemic: true stories told by three naturopathic students

Welcome to our leadership blog series! This month Evelyn Le, NMSA International Chief Financial Officer, and a student at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, shares 3 stories from her classmates and how they’ve been effected by the pandemic.

Resiliency during the pandemic: true stories told by three naturopathic students

 

Names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the students involved.

March 2020:
 
Emma: Oh shoot! The clinic will close for the entire quarter to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we’ll have to wait for further notice from the public health authorities.
 
Donna: OMG…What about seeing the patients? We are in our final year now and we have been working so hard to get to this point of being primary student clinicians.
 
Leila: At least I don’t have to travel 2 hours each way back and forth to the clinic from home. But does that mean we are going to do the clinic virtually? Ahhhh… Can anyone train my 50-year-old brain to use zoom? I have not even figured out Epic yet.
 
The conversation above is from 3 close friends who have survived medical school together thus far. They have different backgrounds, families, and personal histories. I would like to highlight and reflect their stories to you, the readers with the hope that you rediscover meaning, passion and common voice through the ups and downs of weathering a pandemic during medical school.
 
Emma is in her early forties. A medical degree and a decade of practicing as a physician in another country do not satisfy her thirst for knowledge, so, she continues studying naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine here in the US. Having a toddler and an elementary schooler with a loving husband is handful for her, but her super energy always fills people’s lives with empowerment and a go-getter attitude.
 
Donna is in her late twenties with a bubbly and happy personality. Coming straight from undergrad to attending medical school, she has so much hope of providing value and healing to her future patients. A loving relationship with her happy-ever-after boyfriend provides her support through the ups and downs during medical school.
 
You may think that Emma is too old for medical school, but wait a minute, there are people in their 50s and 60s who desire the right healing medicine to assist humanity too. Leila is in her late 50s and, yes, she is in her final year of medical school as well. Hallelujah! With a kind, loving heart, she is always like a mother, sister, friend, and everything to everyone. Not to mention, she has 4 grown children already. Transitioning from a previous career, she found a new venture and vision for herself of healing people with natural foods, lifestyle, and prevention.
 
Fast forward May 2020:
 
Emma: [crying] Why can’t I have another baby? What wrong with me? The OBGYN said I have to keep waiting for a miscarriage to be over. I’m in my forties. My eggs ….. not good anymore.
You may be thinking, ‘why she would want a baby during medical school?’, ‘is medical school not enough for her?’. Think about it, a fertile woman must crave for another wonderful human being in the world to celebrate with her husband and family. Medical school is a toolbox that fits in her life, it is not her whole life. Emma has been trying to conceive for months, and this is her second miscarriage. The bad news causes her much emotional turmoil and distress on top of a busy life.
 
Leila: Ladies, my husband had a stroke and was in the ICU for 2 weeks. He was not able to remember much and didn’t even know that COVID was happening. Whenever my kids visited him, they had to stay outside the glass door and screamed to get his attention. [long sigh] He has been a breadwinner for the family but now I ought to step up and work to provide for my kids while being in school.
 
The whole situation is dumped onto Leila unexpectedly. She has no choice but to continue swimming against the current to keep her family afloat above the storm. She had always urged her husband to eat healthy meals instead of junk foods, but he rarely listened. Have you ever thought about why our loved ones tend to not listen to us? In the end, when things happen, we either choose to walk away or faithfully stick together no matter what.
 
Donna: Sisters, I lost my sense of being. I don’t know why the darkness at night feels so good and lonely and the sound of waves from the ocean could cleanse my deep broken heart. Why am I here? Why do I have to continue doing what I am doing?
 
Wow, this sounds like someone who has suicidal ideation. During the pandemic, Donna’s partner decides to leave her due to job relocation in another state. He is in a developing stage of life when career calling and financial stability are more important than his relationship with her. Quarantining at home and not making money is non-negotiable for him. Unfortunately, Donna is a passionate person, and once she is into something, it becomes everything to her. Eventually, he departs.
 
What would you do in these situations? These stories sometimes echo in my heart that one of those women could have been my patient, seeking help. The pandemic is hard for everyone. Please share your story.

Evelyn Le

Hi, my name is Evelyn Le. I’m a NMS4 at BUW and 2nd year grad student in the Executive Master of Public Health Program at University of Washington on Seattle campus. I enjoy my time working with patients and learning as much as I can from colleagues, supervisors, and resources in my final year in medical school. It’s my honor to serve the student body as NMSA Chief Financial Officer 2020-2021. I am from Houston, TX.  In my free time, I love playing with my cute 1 year-old nephew and walking my sister’s 2 big good-looking dogs in the park when I am with my family.

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