Madhu Rajendran, student assistant, National Program Office
I am Madhu Rajendran, a sophomore here at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a student assistant at Project HealthDesign. I am currently studying biochemistry and math, as both fields are of great interest to me. My plans are to go to medical school when I am done with my undergraduate studies. I started to work at Project HealthDesign in the beginning of October 2011, when I was looking for jobs that had some relation to helping patients.
Like a lot of pre-med students, one thing I would like to change is the way patients get treated. My experience as a student assistant with the NPO has given me the chance to be a part of an effort to make those changes happen.
Before working with Project HealthDesign I had a very different view of the physician-patient relationship. My belief was that in order to better aid the patients, the patients would talk to the physician about their medical problems, and the physician would provide solutions to solve the medical problems. Throughout this process, the patients would follow the physician’s guidelines, no questions asked!
But my work with Project HealthDesign has done more than just shatter my view about the physician-patient relationship; it has also helped me to see who plays a bigger role. Even though the physicians are experts in healthcare, patients are experts in their own lives. The patients know much more about themselves than the physicians do. So the patients play a bigger role, and the role of the physicians is to cure the patients based on the information that they provide.
Project HealthDesign’s grantee teams’ work on identifying Observations of Daily Living, or ODLs, has also influenced my thoughts on how I could be a better future physician. Since ODLs are recorded by the patients themselves, they tell a better story about what has been going on in the lives of patients, additional to the patient’s verbal reports. Even though ODLs are defined by patients and are most commonly used for self-management of health, ODLs can play a vital role during clinical decision making. As someone who plans to become a physician, I hope ODLs will become part of the medical picture by the time I start my career. I think ODLs will provide me a more complete and holistic view of the patient as a whole person.
Working as a student assistant for Project HealthDesign has been a great opportunity for me, as it has changed the way I could better serve my patients. Because of my experience here, I hope to be part of a new generation of physicians who enter the field with the knowledge that patients belong at the center of their own health care, not on the periphery.