The emotional connection between members of a family is often a treasured one. Family medicine practitioners see these connections every day and sometimes find themselves deeply connected to the families they treat. For Emily Cronin, OMS III, this is what draws her to family medicine.
“You help patients experience life from birth to death and everything in between,” said Cronin. “I remember one physician I was working with, got so excited to talk with one of his patients about her upcoming wedding, as he had been taking care of her since she was a baby. This was a truly special moment to witness and was one that I knew I also wanted to have with my future patients.”
Cronin’s pediatrician played a vital role in her upbringing. Not only did she influence Cronin’s career path, but she had a huge impact on Cronin’s childhood, more than just the yearly obligation.
“She addressed what turned out to be my anxiety induced eating disorder by engaging with me and my family, allowing her to understand the full picture and what social factors may have been contributing to my illness,” said Cronin. “I went to about twenty different doctors before I was diagnosed and properly treated by her.”
Much like a family tree, the human body hosts many connections. Every part, every pathway, every neuron, work together to keep things running. This fascinates Cronin, who is part of the Transformative Care Continuum, an accelerated medical program offered by the Heritage College in partnership with Cleveland Clinic. The program puts students immediately into the clinic. This may seem daunting to some, but it was something Cronin appreciated.
“It has also allowed me to form a strong bond with the patients and have continuity of care, as some of the patients I see in the clinic now will be ones that I get to take care of as a physician soon,” said Cronin, who graduates in May 2022. She recalled a clinical interaction where she checked on a mother, then asked about the baby to make sure he was healthy. “As we stepped out of the room, the resident told me that I would be a great family physician because I cared about the whole family and how every member was doing and their relationship with each other,” said Cronin. "Through my experiences, I know that I want to form a strong relationship with my patients. I want to watch them go through all the challenges and excitement of life. I want to be someone they can rely on throughout their entire lives, someone they can depend on, someone they can trust.”
It’s not just experiences like these that Cronin likes about the three-year TCC program. She also points out the support she’s received, saying it has been “more than I could have ever imagined. I truly feel like we are a family. We have really gotten to know each other, encourage each other, and support each other throughout the work and activities we have done for this program. I am blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people, and I am so excited to see what amazing things they accomplish in residency and their careers.”
To those thinking about medical school, Cronin recommends reaching out, asking for help and getting involved.
“Shadow several different people in different specialties in which you may be interested. Help with volunteer opportunities that the hospital or physician is involved with. The more exposure to medicine and the more interaction you have with patients, the more you will know if medicine is the right fit for you. Most importantly, keep an open mind. Everyone has different gifts and talents and there are so many different areas and specialties in healthcare,” said Cronin. "A friend and previous OU HCOM medical student told me when I was applying to ‘stay true to yourself, and you will find your fit.’ To this day, this has always been true.”