Ole Miss student is making a difference through pediatric care

PEDIATRIC CARE: Christopher Fletcher, NP, a provider with Children's International Medical Group shows Ole Miss pre-med student Julia Smith the realities of pediatric care in the Picayune Clinic. Jodi Marze | Item Photo

PEDIATRIC CARE: Christopher Fletcher, NP, a provider with Children’s International Medical Group shows Ole Miss pre-med student Julia Smith the realities of pediatric care in the Picayune Clinic.
Jodi Marze | Item Photo

 

Children’s International Medical Group patients in Picayune may have had the opportunity to meet Ole Miss pre-med student Julia Smith, as she shadowed Nurse Practitioner Christopher Fletcher on Wednesday.

Smith is pursuing a dream that began when she was 10-years-old. When, as a little girl, she witnessed the aftermath of her older brother’s vehicle accident and the care that the medical community provided as well as the hope they gave to their family.

“I saw how much it helped him and how much they helped us as a family,” Smith said. “The situation really spoke to me and I knew at that time that I wanted to help people like they helped my brother. From that time on I wanted to be a physician.”

Originally, Smith thought she would pursue sports medicine since she came from a background rich in athletic participation .

After conversations with her brother-in-law convinced her to look into pediatrics, she spent a week, for the first time, with CIMG. This was a defining week for her because it not only reaffirmed her studies in medicine, but further defined them to pediatrics.

“I was impressed with the interactions of the patients and physicians,” Smith said. “Once again, I felt like the situation really spoke to me and once again, I felt like I wanted to help people in that way.

Now in her second year of shadowing through the CIMG program, which also includes international pre-med students, her strategy has been to focus on specific physician styles and how they interact with patients.

Smith said she feels shadowing is vital to becoming a good pediatrician.

“Grades are important, and I do my best to earn high grades,” she said. “I am not like many of my friends who have time for sororities or to go to the Grove.

“I believe that it is equally important to not only get good grades but to take initiative and have real world experience that you cannot get in a classroom. I think the earlier you can get that experience, the better you can develop your own style and be a better provider for your future patients.”

Smith said that the shadowing program gives her the opportunity to work with five different pediatric healthcare providers and witness their individual styles and approaches to healthcare.

“Nurse Practitioner Fletcher is very thorough. Many providers will not explain to you why you are feeling bad or how what they are prescribing will make it better,” Smith said. “But I can see how communication with the parent is everything. They want to know what their child has, what will make it better and why that approach will work. It is comforting and reassures them.”

When asked how the second-year shadowing experience differed from the first year, she said the first year focused on what pediatrician’s day-to-day life was like. This year she focused on the different styles and approaches to medicine and patient care.

Fletcher said that he enjoys the opportunity to have someone shadow him.

He said that he is thrilled to be able to pass on the help and insight that has been so freely given to him through the CIMG family.

“This is my way of giving back and pre-med students like Julia are a good investment in the future of pediatrics,” Fletcher said.

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