Kristen Meier, Medicine

Kristen MeierNormally the first comment I get when I tell someone I am a Spanish and Biology major is “Huh, what led to that combo?” or “What are you going to do with that?!” It isn’t until I explain that I plan to become a doctor that they suddenly think it is a brilliant idea. For me, it always seemed like a no-brainer.

I have been interested in science and medicine for as long as I can remember and began my Spanish education freshman year of high school. Choosing between the two was something that I was incapable of doing, but luckily both of them were able to blend together fairly well, especially out in the real world. Early on I was afraid Spanish would become just another class that I eventually forgot about because I never had the opportunity to use it unless traveling abroad; however, this was anything but the case.

During the past two years of shadowing in clinics and hospitals I have been amazed and frankly extremely excited about the number of opportunities in which I have been able to use my Spanish. The very first day I was shadowing in an orthopedic clinic, our first patient spoke almost no English, so with the help of the orthopedic surgeon we were able to figure out what had happened and translate a treatment plan. Although my medical Spanish vocabulary was pretty sparse, I was still pumped! Another time I was just finishing up a day of shadowing at my hometown hospital when I was called into the emergency room to serve as an interpreter. A construction worker had badly injured his hand, and like the other patient, he spoke almost no English. As I was leaving, one of the nurses came up to thank me. She told me that she was with the patient the entire time, but when I came in and started speaking Spanish with him, his blood pressure and pulse immediately began to return to normal and he even smiled though he was obviously in a lot of pain. To this day, I can’t tell you how powerful that was to me, but it really was the moment that made it all worth it. Even in my own small town I was able to use Spanish in order to help people.

When people ask me what I want to specialize in, I am honest and tell them there are too many intriguing specialties to know for sure at the moment. At some point I would love to work with Doctors Without Borders, but the time and place are still up in the air. There are so many factors that I cannot predict and I think it is important to keep an open mind, but the one thing I do know is wherever I end up, Spanish will undoubtedly play an integral part in my future as a doctor.

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