Gratitude Week 2018: sharing our thanks for the people who make it possible

Jack Mazzulo, M.D. class of 2021 and Med21 student council president

We, especially students, all have at least one person here at OHSU whose act of kindness or encouragement weren’t necessary, but nevertheless, were greatly appreciated. Whether it was a passionate instructor who went above and beyond to help us learn a topic, or an attending who made time in their busy schedule to let us shadow them, or a faculty advisor for a student group who continually advocated for issues that are important to us; there is a plethora of amazing people and healthcare professionals here at OHSU who contribute to infinite moments of gratitude.

While we all have experienced these moments, most of us have also succumbed to the stress and incredibly busy schedules that accompany being a medical student. Constantly moving at 100 mph, we often aren’t left with enough time to fully express our appreciation, or sometimes don’t even notice all that is being done to help us succeed. Because of this, the OHSU School of Medicine M.D. class of 2021 student council organized Gratitude Week, from April 9 – 13, to show appreciation for the people who’ve helped and inspired us in our first year here.

Med21 student council provided thank-you cards for students to fill out as part of Gratitude Week.

Throughout this week we encouraged our class to take a moment to pause and reflect on times when they were thankful for someone here at OHSU. To aid students in also going out of their way to express their gratitude, student council provided thank-you cards that our classmates could take and fill out at any time. The goal was twofold: we wanted to let those we appreciate know that what they do for us doesn’t go unnoticed, and we also wanted to inject positivity and happiness into, what is for many, a very stressful time.

The feedback from both faculty and students was that Gratitude Week was a success in accomplishing both of these goals. I personally think one of OHSU’s greatest strengths is how supportive its community is, and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of a class that both appreciates and shares that quality. By the end of the week our class had filled out over 100 thank-you cards to be delivered to a wide range of OHSU community members, as well as verbally spread positivity and thanks throughout. The week culminated in a joint celebratory event, where students were able to hang out with faculty and staff in a non-academic setting, get to know them better, and most importantly express gratitude for all that they do for us.

Below are some of the recognitions shared by students from the M.D. class of 2021 during Gratitude Week:

From: Caroline King

From left: Caroline King, Jackie Wirz, Kelsey Priest, and Jacqueline Emathinger

“Two months ago, Kelsey Priest [M.P.H., M.D./Ph.D. candidate], Jacqueline Emathinger [M.D./Ph.D. candidate], and I asked leadership at OHSU to apply for grant funding to build a sexual assault and harassment reporting system for students, residents, post-docs, staff and faculty. Dr. Jackie Wirz [Ph.D., assistant dean for graduate studies], Laura Stadum [director, Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity], and Dr. Elena Andresen [Ph.D., OHSU provost], my new personal heroes, catalyzed action through careful navigation of systems to figure out if OHSU could apply. Through an absolutely amazing effort, and in partnership with students over the course of about 10 days, Dr. Wirz, Ms. Stadum and Dr. Andresen wrote the grant and submitted it. We found out over spring break we were selected for funding. OHSU will now hire a full-time confidential advocate to support all survivors of assault and harassment on campus, have a web-based reporting app through partnership with Dr. Karen Eden [Ph.D., professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology] in DMICE, and will have additional crisis line support in our community. Working on this project was a deeply moving experience – I’m so grateful to have the chance to learn from these wonderful leaders and to be a part of the OHSU community.”

From: Jennifer Werekeitzen

“I just want to express my deepest gratitude for two outstanding professors.

Dr. Ali Olyaei [Pharm.D., adjunct professor of medicine] is an amazing pharmacist. His knowledge is immense and his care for students is greatly appreciated. He goes above and beyond every time to provide us with practice questions, answers, extra review sessions, lightning fast email responses and is just overall very responsive and dedicated to helping students. I am very grateful for him.

“Another amazing professor and one that I hope OHSU never lets go is Dr. Peter Sullivan [M.D., associate professor of medicine]. He is so dedicated to helping students truly understand material through review cases and has a way of making everyone a lot more comfortable. He gets along with students so effortlessly, I have yet to meet someone that has a negative comment about him.”

From: Shane Hervey

Leslie Garcia, far right, at an event on campus.

Leslie Garcia [M.P.A., assistant chief diversity officer, assistant vice provost and director, OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion] has been one of my biggest sources of support since joining the OHSU community. It’s important to recognize that I am not the only student who feels this way. Leslie is a champion of diversity at OHSU and in the greater Portland area. An example of this is her role in helping OHSU’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) coordinate an event called Hippocrates Circle through Northwest Permanente, which helps to build relationships between underrepresented minority middle school students with underrepresented minority medical students and physicians. Thanks to Leslie and several others involved, the event was a great success! This is only ONE example of how she consistently goes above and beyond to assist this institution in reaching its full potential. Leslie deserves endless appreciation.”

From: Chris Graulty

“Anyone who has met Dr. Judy Bowen [M.D., F.A.C.P., professor of medicine] knows that she is extremely knowledgeable, thoughtful, and generous. I always look forward to meetings with her and the rest of our wonderful coaching cohort. At any level of higher education, we often talk about the idea of lifelong learning. Never before have I met someone who so exemplifies that concept. For me, Dr. Bowen is one of the best things about medical school, and I feel very lucky to have her as an academic coach and mentor.”

From: Taylor Vega

Tomo Ito, administrative manager for Undergraduate Medical Education Curriculum and Student Affairs.

“Over the past year, students in the Latino Medical Student Association have been working to create and establish an Introduction to Medical Spanish Elective. Several people have been instrumental in helping to support us during this process, and I would like to especially thank Tomo Ito. Tomo is our UME curriculum manager and has been invaluable in helping us navigate the process to become an approved elective. From early mornings in her office filling out submission forms to late-night committee meetings to casual check-ins in the halls of the CLSB, Tomo has been an advocate for us every step of the way. As a result, our Introduction to Medical Spanish Elective will be open to students in the School of Medicine during the Summer Term! Thank you Tomo for helping build a sense of community between students and the administration. You are an incredible asset to OHSU and thank you for amplifying student voices!”

From: Jack Mazzulo

“As students we often think that our schedules couldn’t be any fuller, and while we are definitely busy, I’m constantly amazed when I hear about the calendars of our administrators such as Dr. Tracy Bumsted [M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for undergraduate medical education, OHSU School of Medicine] and Dr. George Mejicano [M.D., M.S., senior associate dean for education, OHSU School of Medicine]. And yet, with meetings scheduled one after the other, they both still continue to make time for students, in groups and individually, to mentor, listen to, and work with us. They actively seek out feedback, and are always patient and willing to listen, even in the face of tough situations and strong opinions. This ever-present desire to make our medical education the best it can be, is not only inspiring, but also deeply appreciated. While I personally think OSHU is a phenomenal place, especially relative to its peers, like all institutions, it still has many areas for growth and improvement. While this is a complicated and slow process, one thing that is evident is that Dr. Bumsted and Dr. Mejicano care about bettering OHSU in every way they can. With leaders who work as tirelessly and who are as passionate as they are, I know OHSU will only continue to grow and be a leader in medical education.

“This care for students and willingness to work with us extends from Dr. Bumsted and Dr. Mejicano up to Dr. Sharon Anderson [M.D.], Dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. Dean Anderson has put in a great deal of time and energy to connect with students and hear about the issues that are important to us. Whether through email correspondence or in-person meetings, Dean Anderson has shown the impact of good communication and thoughtfulness towards students goes a long way. I wanted to take this week to say a huge thank you to the entire School of Medicine faculty and staff, but especially Dr. Bumsted, Dr. Mejicano, and Dr. Anderson for their great leadership and deep care for students.”

Students and faculty take a break to say thanks and recognize each other’s work.

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