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Caring, Character & Calling: Learning From Medical Student Colleagues

April 28, 2021

Did you ever have a teacher who changed your course or your life? Someone whose habits, actions, insights and integrity made you want to follow in their footsteps? Dell Medical School students share personal stories of profound influencers in this blog series.

All members of the Dell Medical School community are welcome to submit stories of teachers or mentors whose character moved them and made a difference in their development. This story is shared by Sam Baldazo, third-year student at Dell Med.

My third year of medical school, I was given the opportunity by my classmates to serve as the student body co-president. It’s important that I emphasize the “co,” because the person who has inspired me through medical school is the other president. As I’m interviewing for the next stage in my career, I find that my co-president keeps coming up as a part of my answers. I’ve realized that it’s because she has had a profound impact on the way that I approach tasks and challenges, both as a student and as a leader.

As a problem solver, I tend to be very upfront. I want you to summarize the problem in no more than two sentences and I want to immediately begin working on a to-do list, assigning tasks to each stakeholder or team member and creating a schedule for checking in. This strategy has served me well for most of my life, keeping me organized and ensuring that I do not forget little details. It’s also given me a reputation, both as someone who gets things done and as someone who has little patience for delay. However, while I may view the world as nails that I either have hammered or will hammer, not every problem is a nail. Working with my co-president, I was able to get an insight into problem solving outside of my normal scope. She approaches problems with care and patience, able to tease apart the different issues and how they affect each person. Most importantly, she is able to ensure that those affected by problems feel heard, that their problems are seen and appreciated.

While my approach to problem-solving delivers results, it has the tendency to seem blunt or callous to the outside observer. It was so important to me that my co-president was able to see me in that regard. She held respect for my approach, but helped to guide me towards more creative problem-solving — to take my time and make sure that needs are truly heard and that we have a good understanding of concerns before proceeding. Working with her has set the groundwork for my future career, helping me understand the problem-solving of others just in time for me to integrate with a team of residents at my next step. I will always be grateful for the lessons learned from our student government partnership and have no doubts that she will make whatever residency she chooses a healthier place for her patients and co-residents alike.

The Kern National Network for Caring & Character in Medicine (KNN) is a national network of seven medical schools dedicated to advance caring and character in medicine with the goal of promoting human flourishing. Guided by the principles of caring and character, the KNN provides a framework for training physicians, strengthening joy in medicine and improving health to promote human flourishing within, across and beyond the medical profession to positively impact individuals and communities in our society.

This initiative was made possible through support from the Kern National Network for Caring & Character in Medicine through an investment from the Kern Family Trust and Kern Family Foundation.