Special Olympics: Time out of pediatric residency

There is a reason they call us residents. We do spend the majority of our time “residing” in the hospital. So it is always nice to be able to escape our residency and experience medicine in a community outside the hospital.

A few weekends ago, a group of five residents, including myself, and three supervising physicians made our way to the Nike campus to help out at the Special Olympics MedFest. My first impression was that Nike never does anything on a small scale.

Rain or shine (mostly rain), hundreds of children were set to try their hands, or feet as it may be, at their sport of choice. This included old pros as well as new members to the Special Olympics family. Volunteers were there in spades as well, filling in all the tiny gaps left between the swarming groups of children.

We somehow made it through to the temporary medical clinic, all nicely organized with exam tables, curtains dividing the “rooms,” a triage area supplied with scale and vision charts, and even a small waiting room.

Nursing students from OHSU volunteered their time to obtain vitals as well as perform vision and hearing screens. With our Special Olympics staff shirts proudly worn, we set about to make ourselves comfortable in the clinic.

Soon the athletes began to arrive. We were coached prior to arrival that every child we would see should first be thought of as an athlete and then as a patient. It is a different approach than that which we typically take in clinic, where all patients are primarily just patients.

In many ways, this was a challenging alteration of thought because my brain has been trained to first find the problem before addressing the solution. But there were endless number of interesting solutions, interests and new resolutions. It was fun to see how all the different athletes participated and each to varying capacities. It was fun to see their lives on their turf, not mine.

At the end of our rounds of sports physicals, gentle persuading and medical discussions, we were all happy we had come. If nothing else, it was inspiring to see these athletes succeed and be a part of a very welcoming family.

I would always be happy to help make that happen for anyone, even outside of the hospital.

Ashley Treece, M.D.
Third-Year Resident in Pediatrics
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital