Spotlight: Alice Chen


Name: Alice Chen
Major: Public Health & Sociology
HCMP Role: Fundraising Coordinator
Classification: Junior

Describe a shadowing experience that has impacted you the most. 
I felt like I learned something important every day I shadowed, but the one that impacted me most was the morning I spent with Dr. George Seremetis, who is a pediatric urologist at Strictly Pediatrics. As soon as I arrived, he met me with a smile and welcomed me to his office and showed me around the clinic. When we started seeing patients, what impressed me was his interactions with them. In pediatric specialties, educating the patient and family can be a challenge because you want to address the child, but you ultimately want the parents to understand as well. He solved this problem by speaking directly to any patient that could understand speech (older than a year) and allowing them to ask questions before addressing the parent. While it may not have made a difference to the four-year-olds that Dr. Seremetis did this, there were older children that clearly appreciated his respect for them, which also made them more receptive to listening to him.

Dr. Seremetis also impressed me a lot because he took the time to explain to me the other things that doctors have to deal with. First, he explained that that day was his weekly “Medicaid day”, which was the day he scheduled most of his patients using Medicaid insurance. When I asked him why, he talked about Medicaid patients having higher rates of cancelled appointments and no-shows due to a lack of transportation or resources that would help them get there, and the social situations that keep them from coming on time. To see enough patients, he would have to overbook those days. It made me think about the Medicaid and CHIP programs because people who utilize them often do not have the resources to advocate for these resources themselves; the physician then has the responsibility to be the voice of their patients when needed.

Between patients, Dr. Seremetis also answered all of my questions, and drew out the conditions that he was seeing. He was patient and thorough in his explanations, even though I provided him no benefits. He treated me like a colleague, not a pre-med student with only the knowledge I’d learned from Systems Physiology over a year ago.

Throughout the day, I could see that Dr. Seremetis was incredibly dedicated to his work. In his consultations with Spanish-only patients, he spoke fluent Spanish. I could tell with each family that they relaxed right away and really appreciated that he could use more than just the basic words to explain to them what was happening, especially in contrast to consultation I’ve seen with translators or broken Spanish. When I asked him about it, he told me that he and some friends had hired a private Spanish tutor for a couple years and that it really wasn’t that difficult to learn, but was an important skill. It turns out he also could speak fluent French and Greek.

By the time I had to leave that afternoon, I felt like Dr. Seremetis had really showed me what it took to be a great doctor. He was someone who would stop at nothing to make appointments pleasant for his patients, and I could see what I hope to be in him. I have shadowed many great physicians through HCMP, but Dr. Seremetis was the first one that really showed me the impact that combining all the best traits could have.

How has HCMP benefited your professional or individual goals?
HCMP has equipped me with skills that will prove very helpful for me in the future. Through the HCMP application process, I have developed my interviewing skills and because of this feel more confident to do interviews later in my academic career. I also have had further practice with discussing medically relevant topics. HCMP members have had the great opportunity to have discussions with a third year medical students covering topics such as healthcare policy, insurance, and  treatment of the poor. This has definitely given me a more well-versed background in these topics that are so pertinent to being a healthcare professional.

What has been your favorite aspect of HCMP?
One of my favorite aspects of HCMP has been how close-knit the group is. Since we are a small organization, it’s very easy to get to know everyone in HCMP. We also promote these relationships in the structure of our organization. We often have “brown bags” in which a small group of members will get together for lunch or coffee and get to know each other. We also will have socials all together at places like Top Golf or karaoke!