Name: Tuan Tang
Major: Human Biology
HCMP Role: Technology Coordinator
Associations: Texas 4000 for Cancer, Operation Smile
Describe a shadowing experience that has impacted you the most.
One morning while shadowing at the General Surgery OR, I was sitting in the physician’s lounge scrubbed up and waiting on a case to begin when a physician in the room received a pager message. He turned towards me as I scrutinize the OR board for the next operation and asked if I would like to see a pleural effusion aspiration, or the removal of abnormal accumulation of fluids surrounding the lungs. I graciously accepted his unsuspecting offer. It wasn’t until after we jumped on the elevator, went up a few levels of floors, and entered the patient’s room that I realized this was not a simple procedure done to anyone. I learned of the patient’s situation. The patient, a student, was a survivor of suicide; he has survived a jump off a few stories worth of height. It struck me with a sense of vicarious sympathy as I learned how similar the patient was to me. As the physician prepped and began the fluid extraction, I realized how overwhelmed the patient was–not by the pain, but the actions of the physician and how much it meant to him. I could see the crusty edges of his eyes that once held tears. Everything seemed to circle back to the origins of depression. That day, I witness a very real effect of depression, and saw first-hand the consequences of an unaided mind. The thing is: Depression isn’t imaginary, nor is it something that should be looked down on and criticized as a mental weakness. Society’s indifference or even social hostility towards mental illness such as depression only creates a cyclic exacerbation of a deeply rooted issue. As I looked around and saw many “Get Well Soon” balloons and other figurines of encouragement, it made me wonder if these traumatic events were necessary for a depressed individual to get the help they needed. This singular event has reminded me how critical the value of simple compassion has on the human heart. It has proved to me that physicians need to be more than a figure of medical expertise, but also a genuine humanitarian.
How has HCMP benefited your professional or individual goals?
HCMP has given me the vision to continue my journey in medicine. Through my experiences in the operating room, hospital, or clinic, I was able to witness more than medicine, but the act of curing someone. It was an incredible experience to feel the personal connection between the patient and the physician. It was inspiring to see how much certain physicians valued the health of their patients, by going beyond the satisfactory requirements, reviewing cutting-edge research and personally contacting agencies and programs to get financial assistance to underprivileged patients. Simple put, it reminded me why being a physician is my goal, and the reasons why I believe I should work hard enough to earn that white coat.
What has been your favorite aspect of HCMP?
I truly value the warm value that builds from the core of HCMP–it’s members. It’s incredible to become a family with such inspiring leaders and I enjoy all the fun times we have with each other, whether it may be a quick social or a pot-luck get-together. Our members are highly engaged, and often witty, students who all contribute to such greatness in the community. I am proud to be in an organization with tomorrow’s future leaders.