By Rebecca V. Lockwood, CTFD Dancer-Client, Caroline H. Newhouse Grant Recipient
I donned my first pair of ballet slippers at the age of four. Ballet was the focus of my life until I suffered an ankle injury at 18. The dance world (at least as I knew it) was over, so I quit dancing completely and attended the University of Michigan. Upon college graduation, however, I decided that I still wanted to perform. While I could no longer do ballet, I finally realized that I could still perform other types of dance. Remembering my recent trip to Las Vegas and how captivated I was by the beauty and glamour of the production shows, I decided to audition in Las Vegas. I was lucky enough to get offered a job in the world-renown revue show, Jubilee!.
After seven years of performing in Jubilee!, I was ready to return to academia and start a family. Due to my undergraduate background in biological sciences, I was hired as a part-time instructor for the School of Life Sciences to teach the Human Anatomy & Physiology laboratories. Content with my job while raising two small boys, I actually never even entertained thoughts of returning to school to begin a new career. And then my father lost his leg.
My father’s amputation began a long series of hospitalizations, and I consistently saw him afraid, especially during the more severe visits. I became increasingly frustrated that there was nothing I could do to lessen his anxiety. And then I made an interesting observation: both of my parents appeared more relaxed and less fearful after visits with one of the physician assistants, rather than with the cardiologist or internist himself. On the occasions when I visited the hospital, I witnessed the special, personal bond my parents had developed with both the cardiologist’s and the internist’s physician assistants—a bond that did not develop with either of the physicians. I saw how both PA’s were able to alleviate my parents’ fear, not only through their medical knowledge, but also with their relaxed and comforting bedside manner.
As the generation of baby boomers continues to age, the need for quality care in many areas of medicine will increase. Older patients, frightened by unfamiliar surroundings (and often nervous or intimidated by doctors) deserve more than just medical expertise. I am currently attending school to become a physician assistant so that I can provide exceptional care, comfort and knowledge to these patients.
I am grateful to have received the CTFD Newhouse grant, as it will help alleviate some of the monetary stress that accompanies attending school full time while raising a family.