CCPA 2019 Summer Series: Tufts Medical Center

CCPA 2019 Summer Series: Tufts Medical Center

Good morning! My name is Sarah Curtis (’20, she/her/hers) and I am a rising senior and biology major. This summer I am sponsored by the Jaharis Fellowship to work in primary care at Tufts Medical Center (Boston, MA). I’m going to take you through an average day of work today, so sit down and strap in!

11:30 am: Arrive at Downtown Crossing Train Station. I clip on my Tufts Employee badge and make my way through bustling downtown Boston, to Tufts Medical Center main hospital. On my way I pass through Chinatown to pick up bubble tea. Outside the tea shop, I run into one of the Mandarin-speaking patients that I see in the primary care office. We do not speak the same language, but we smile at each other in recognition. Tufts serves the diverse immigrant communities in Boston, and through my time at the hospital I have learned a great deal about the demographics of my home city.


12:00 pm: I make my way over to the Outpatient Services building. Sipping on my bubble tea, I climb three flights of stairs and make my way across the indoor “bridge” that separates inpatient and outpatient services. With my badge on, nurses and physicians smile and me, and I feel inducted into the special world of the who have studied the mysteries of the human body. I also make sure to greet every patient I see. I do not know why they wander through the hospital today- maybe to get routine blood work, or have come in for a dose of chemotherapy- but I do know that a smile can really help someone on a hard day.

12:15 pm: I arrive at General Medicine 6th floor. GMA6 is my “home base.” I check in with Dr. Cinthya Marturano (chief of outpatient geriatrics), my “air traffic controller” (in her words). She oversees my summer at Tufts and directs who I will spend my day working with. She greets me with her usual warmth and asks how my weekend was. She tells me that in the afternoon I will be working with Phuong, a Nurse-Case-manager who works with MassHealth patients that are at high risk for repeated hospital admissions. While Dr. Marturano and I are chatting, a resident pokes his head in to present a case to Dr. Marturano and get her advise on some tests. I listen as the resident presents his case to Dr. Marturano and make notes of various medical language to look up later. The resident stumbles on which vaccines to give the patient. Dr. Marturano quizzes the resident on which vaccines should be given at what age with a twinkle in her eye. She loves challenging the residents and hopes that it will make them more thoughtful physicians.

1:00 pm: I sit in on a lunch conference. Every Tuesday at 1:00 pm the whole GM staff (over 30 MDs, NPs, PAs, Case Managers, PsyDs)  gathers in a brown-bag lunch style to discuss a topic of interest to the medical field. This week a nutritionist from GMA5 is presenting on carbohydrates. GMA sees a lot of diabetic patients, and the nutritionist wants to give practitioners the most up-to-date info on blood sugar and carb counting. I learn that there is a new standard nutrition label coming out that displays “total added sugar” in all foods.


2:30 pm: Phuong and I see patients together. Phoung is a nurse case-manager, a title which allows her to handle both the medical and the social coordination of a patient. She will schedule medical tests, and operations, and will also organize visiting nurses, call pharmacies for med refills, and purchase perhaps a scooter or a walker- literally anything a patient needs to live comfortably out of hospital. Together, Phoung and I see patients that have very complex medical histories and have had frequent hospital admissions. Before we see each patient in ward, Phoung stops me at the door and tells me about them. She doesn’t just explain their medical history, she tells me their story. I appreciate this because I find the medical field de-humanizing sometimes. Phoung teaches me the importance of treating each patient with compassion, a practice that I believe will re-introduce humanity into the medical field.

5:00 pm: I make my way back home. After bidding Phuong and Dr. Marturano goodnight, I pack up my things and walk back to the train. On my way home I look up the meaning of all of the medical terminology I heard throughout the day. Thanks for following me!