By: Kristen Steiner
All growing up, I knew being in the medical field was not my greater life calling. As a 26-year-old woman shots and needles still cause me to panic and pass out, I can’t watch war movies because the idea of body parts and blood is too much for me, and even visiting doctors’ offices causes me grief because my nose doesn’t like the sterile smell. I ended up in the communications field and figured that I would never have to deal with anything medical since that wasn’t a top interest of mine; I was alright with that.
Let’s rewind to a little over a year ago when I was hired on as the Public Relations Associate at the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah. After letting my family know I had been offered the job and congratulations were extended, my mother looked right at me and said, half-jokingly but with an air of seriousness, “Does this mean you are in the medical field? Will you be able to handle that?”
She had a good point! I had been so worried about trying to find my “adult” job that I had not even thought about the medical content that I might have to cover, but I was so excited for such a great opportunity that I didn’t really care; what was the worst that could possibly happen?
Fast forward to today where I have been the Public Relations Associate for almost 15 months. I haven’t encountered much of the nitty gritty of the medical field. I did film a video at a clinic and almost passed out while filming in the lab; however, I made it out unscathed. I will say that my job has afforded me countless opportunities to learn more about the medical field, without being knee deep in the so-called “medical stuff.” Instead, I have learned the side of medicine that most patients don’t get to see and that many medical professionals, I dare say, forget.
Below are just a few of the things I have witnessed as I have sat behind the scenes in the medical field for the past 15 months.
- Doctors are human. As patients, and even doctors, I think it is easy to forget that the medical experts we see and work with are more than just a person in a white coat diagnosing a problem. They have families and jobs outside of clinic hours. They have talents and interests beyond medicine and health. They need time to do what they love, and when they do, they blossom!
- Kindness goes a long way. I am a firm believer that it takes a special person to work in the medical field. Medical professionals have not picked the easiest career and as patients and colleagues, it is easy to get mad at medical experts because they aren’t giving us what we want or think we need. Those in the medical field are patient and kind. They have a lot on their plate, so we need to remember to extend the same courtesy.
- Working hard pays off. I think this is a general life lesson, but as I have watched staff and faculty in my department, I am continually amazed at the work that goes into their professions and careers. I see doctors spend hours in clinic, work their magic while they are not seeing patients, then go teach classes, attend more meetings, etc. I have never envied their schedules, but I am constantly amazed as I watch these individuals work so hard. Most do not do it for the recognition, but as a PR Associate, I filter through and learn of all the recognition and kudos these many people get for their hard work. They work because they love it and they love to learn and grow, but it is phenomenal to see the recognition and impact they make in the community.
I never thought the medical field would be for me, and to be honest, the nitty gritty part will never be, but I am continually grateful and glad that I get to be a part of it and witness all that goes on behind the scenes.
Kristen Steiner is the Public Relations Associate for the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah.