Experience Type: Community Service/Volunteer – Medical/Clinical
Experience Name: Patient Navigator
Hours: 350 hours
Most Meaningful: Yes
As an interpreter for the NY Methodist Hospital, I assist medical staff in resolving concerns from patients, advocate for patient rights, and translate during rounds in both Mandarin and Cantonese. Observing physicians interact with patients was valuable. Speaking on behalf of doctors and patients has allowed me to take on the perspective of both parties. Patients would like to know as much as possible about their condition and alternative treatment plans. Physicians were responsible for educating patients in order to facilitate the decision making process. I learned that doctors must make sure that their patients are fully understood and respected in order to establish mutual trust.
Doctors spend numerous hours trying to cure diseases, but death is ultimately inevitable. After working alongside them, I saw how doctors are also human beings, afraid of failures like the rest of us. Not every patient can be saved or treated. And yet, I learned that physicians must do their best to make patients comfortable until their last seconds of life. I remember assisting a patient with a pineal tumor that was obstructing the normal circulation of cerebrospinal fluid around her brain, and the trapped fluid was increasing the pressure in her head. After a thorough discussion with the neurosurgeon about the complexity of the surgery and potential complications, the patient gave consent as she was in tears. I remember this was one of the most difficult interpretations I had to provide. I was trying my best to not get emotional in order to provide all the information and some reassurance. I knew that my reaction was not helpful to the patient and her family. After the surgery, I saw tears in the husband’s eyes as he was being notified about its success, and I had to struggle to control my own. It takes perseverance to care for patients until their very last moment, but it is the best gift patients and their families can receive, even if the outcome would have been less fortunate.