Diary of an MSTAR Student
Diary of an MSTAR Student

The MSTAR Program encourages medical students to consider a career in academic geriatrics by providing summer research and training opportunities. Follow these students as they journey through new experiences in the lab, classroom, and clinic.  Click here to read entries from previous years.

Diary of an MSTAR Student: Michael Gehring

Aug 18
12:12 pm

Diary of an MSTAR Student: Michael Gehring View MoreBACK

Posted by Gemma Martinelli

Home Institution: Medical College of Wisconsin
MSTAR Site: Medical College of Wisconsin & Clement J. Zablocki Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center

Storytelling sits at the cornerstone of society’s culture. This art form shares experiences, instills morals, and preserves traditions.  As part of my MSTAR experience, I was fortunate to be involved in two research studies, one of which allowed me to listen to the stories of surgical patients. Specifically, I listened to the stories of older adults after their surgical procedures, as our research team explored their perceptions about recovery after high-risk operations. Through their storytelling, I was allowed to dive deeper into the patients’ worldview, forming intimate relationships with them as I listened to their stories.

One noteworthy storyteller was Mr. W.  Mr. W had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was understandably apprehensive about his prognosis.  He made himself vulnerable to me, expressing his worries about his future emotional and physical health.  Despite his angst, as the interview ensued, Mr. W described a feeling of solace.  Storytelling was therapeutic for him.  It allowed him to reminisce about his past, reflect on his present well being and remain hopeful about his future. Mr. W helped me realize the power of offering patients the oportunity to speak, supported in silence by a pair of listening ears.

Additionally, Mr. W described his providers’ bedside manners as professional and thorough, with appropriate doses of humor.  He supported my affirmation that caring for older adults requires care coordination between a multidisciplinary team, with each providers’ expertise as important as the next.  I saw this professionalism and care coordination between multidisciplinary teams first-hand in my shadowing experiences with my MSTAR advisor, Dr. Burns, and her colleagues Drs. Duthie and Cohan.  Emitting compassion while individualizing care plans, these geriatricians helped me to see how rewarding it is to care for older adults. I am thankful for the American Federation of Aging Research for allowing me to participate in the MSTAR Program.  I look forward to continuing my research efforts by listening to patients’ stories, with the goal of bringing novel interventions to the bedside, to improve patient care and outcomes for older adults.