Second-Year Medical Student, UTHSCSA
US Navy Reservist
Editor's Note: The General Internal Medicine Statewide Preceptorship Program (GIMSPP) is a mentorship program offered by the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians. The program gives Texas medical students an opportunity to spend time with an internist practicing in a community hospital or clinic for two, three, or four weeks. Students observe the daily routine of the internist and experience the variety that the practice of internal medicine provides. The aim is to interest medical students in a career in general internal medicine in medically underserved areas. Placements are made in all regions of Texas with an emphasis on rural areas, medically underserved areas, and health professional shortage areas as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The following is testimony from John DeMis, a second-year medical student who took advantage of GIMSPP and discovered his medical calling. Mr. DeMis testified in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Funding, urging them to reestablish funding for preceptorship programs.
My name is John DeMis. I am second-year medical student at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, and I will graduate in 2017. I am also a Navy reservist and Health Professions Scholarship recipient. I plan to practice internal medicine because of my experiences with the General Internal Medicine Statewide Preceptorship Program (GIMSPP).
My first-year medical school finals ended on May 23, and I wasted no time. On May 26 I was working with Dr. Pariac Mulgrew, a mentor from the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians. I spent my entire summer working with him, and I will summarize my experience with one word: Amazing!
Dr. Mulgrew was trained in internal medicine and subsequently completed a fellowship in nephrology. He started the largest nephrology private practice group in San Antonio, Renal Associates, and served as head of Transplant for Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital for many years. He has a breadth of knowledge that is both wide and deep.
However, I am here to give you my story and how the GIMSSP has shaped the course of my professional life. Although I made the decision early to serve my country as a physician for the Navy, I had no idea what kind of doctor I wanted to be when I began medical school. So, I enrolled in GIMSPP, hoping I would find a mentor who would guide me and teach me as much as possible.
Our days began at 7:30 am Monday through Friday. We would first drive to see his patients at the dialysis units. While we saw patients, he would explain to me lab values, drug actions, everything, with no help from a book. After we saw the patients, he would give a lecture while he charted. I learned about acid-base changes, the physiological changes on the cardiovascular system when a dialysis fistula is placed, etc. These lessons were invaluable for the future months of medical school because they connected the science of medicine with the people it impacted the most: the patients. Then we went to see his hospitalized patients. While we drove, he would talk about the history of the medical field, or explain a concept that I was having difficulty with, or just answer the millions of questions I had. That lasted until noon, and Dr. Mulgrew didn’t eat lunch. So Tuesday through Thursday we immediately started his clinic patients at Renal Associates. Mondays were special; his heart transplant patients, some of whom he had been managing for more than years, came to see him. What was most apparent was how much his patients cared for him. They brought home-baked food and vegetables from their garden, or they swapped pictures and stories of grandkids. He was the kind of doctor I wanted to be. Our days could last until 7 pm sometimes, but they weren’t over. He would recommend certain topics to review that night so that I could tell him what I learned the next day, where we did it all over again. In the end, GIMSPP gave me my mentor who would push me to grow.
Programs like these need to be funded and promoted by the state because they provide a unique, one-on-one mentorship for students like me. The intensive, early clinical exposure is not just a springboard for success in students’ curriculum. This program taught me what kind of doctor and what kind of person I wanted to be. I know that I will practice internal medicine now. After I serve my country, I will return to serve my home, the state of Texas, as a doctor in internal medicine. I have GIMSPP to thank for that. Please consider returning funding to this excellent program. Thank you for your time.
John Dermot DeMis
ENS, MC, USNR
UTHSCSA Class of 2017