MD students honor inpatient vets by visiting VA hospital

va-day120811This past Veterans Day, 9 School of Medicine medical students* visited the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center (PVAMC) to thank veteran patients for their service.

After getting permission to meet with patients, the team separated into groups and visited the wards on six floors.

“The VA does a fantastic job attending to the health of our veterans,” said second-year medical student Paul Reynolds, who organized the event. “So it was nice to get an up close look at their operations, while at the same time surprising a few veterans with our words of gratitude.”

It was the second year in a row that Paul, a former Green Beret with experience in demolitions and combat diving, has visited the PVAMC on Veteran’s Day to shake hands with veterans and hear their stories.

OHSU’s medical students are familiar with the PVAMC. In 2010, 20 percent of all OHSU student clerkships occurred at the PVAMC, with 50 percent of fourth-year students fulfilling electives there.

“I’ve had such valuable clerkship experience at the VA,” said Geoff Maly, MS4, whose father served in the military. “It was nice to be there for a different purpose, and voice my gratitude to the veteran patients.”

For third-year medical student Julie Doberne, it was an especially rewarding experience. “On my rotations, I’ve learned that the ICU can be a somber place,” she said. “However, this past Veterans Day felt different to me. I think our efforts added some brightness to the ICU.”

Paul said he hopes to make this Veterans Day “thank you visit” a tradition, and plans to meet with veteran patients again next year.

Pictured above: (Front L to R) Julie Doberne, Annika Giesbrecht, Natalie Wu, Annika Giesbrecht (Back L to R) Nick Eglitis, Mackenzie Farley, Geoff Maly, Paul Reynolds, Albert Alaniz, Andrew Peckham

*Julie Doberne,MS3;  Annika Giesbrecht, MPH student; Geoff Maly, MS4; Andrew Peckham, MS2; Paul Reynolds, MS2; Mackenzie Farley, MS2; Nick Eglitis, MS2; Natalie Wu, MS2; and Albert Alaniz.