Becoming a Doctor is More Than Wearing a White Coat

“Medical equipment has always been given to students, but the equipment means nothing without recognizing the gift it is to be a doctor and clinician. The faith patients put in us by allowing us to lay our hands on them and care for them is an honor students should understand from the day they receive their stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope and other equipment,” said Priya Garg, MD, associate dean for medical education.

On Monday, Sept.13, the MD Class of 2025 gathered together for the fourth annual Lorraine Stanfield Memorial Doctoring Lecture, which honors and remembers Stanfield who served as assistant professor of medicine, director of the Introduction to Clinical Medicine 2 (ICM-2) course, director of the Clinical Skills and Simulation Center, student advisor and Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. (CCHERs) instructor for more than 20 years.

The goals of the lecture are to help students understand the healing role of physician-patient interactions, the important function the physical examination plays in caring for and diagnosing patients, and to connect these themes to Stanfield’s career as a primary care clinician and award-winning medical educator.

Students watching lecture

Dr. Elizabeth Ferrenz, assistant professor of family medicine, provided introductions for the afternoon activities.

“Today is the anniversary of Dr. Stanfield’s passing and so it’s a particularly meaningful day for us all to be here together to take the next step on your own journey. During the White Coat Ceremony we welcomed you to the study of medicine. What we’re going to do today is to pass on some of the equipment and diagnostic tools that you’ll be using to involve yourself with patients in a different way than you may have done in the past.”

Dr. Megan Young, assistant professor of medicine and assistant dean for student affairs, delivered the keynote address.

“It is a pleasure to speak today and honor Dr. Lorraine Stanfield. During her time here at BU she received every teaching award you can possibly get. When I first started here as faculty at BUSM I worked as one of the doctoring course directors alongside Lorraine. I am the educator and clinician I am today because of her.

“Doctoring is an apprenticeship – defined as an arrangement in which you learn an art trade or job under another. To all the students here today – a piece of advice:  observe all the different people you work with over the next four years and incorporate the traits you admire into the kind of doctor you want to be. I did this with Lorraine.

Young shared four points: The laying on of hands; love is a large part of healing; take time tor reflect and do something you enjoy; and embrace that things are smelly.

Students lined up receiving their stethoscopes in a box

“I got this stethoscope 15 years ago when I was a first-year medical student at the University of Chicago. Although Lorraine wasn’t the one who taught me how to use it, she taught me much about the importance of using it,” Young continued. “When you get your stethoscope today, hold on to it. Observe how your mentors use it. Use it as a starting point for the laying on of hands. Be good to yourselves and do something you love. And remember to embrace things that are smelly.”

Friends and family of Stanfield attended the lecture, including her husband Pastor Burns Stanfield and close friend and colleague Dr. Katie Harris, in addition to the 167 members of the Class of 2025. Harris serves as an internist and primary care doctor at DotHouse Health, a neighborhood health center that partners with Boston Medical Center to provide consistent, high-quality care, regardless of ability to pay. Stanfield worked at DotHouse for 26 years.

Harris explained that she and Stanfield went through medical school and residency together, started at DotHouse together and became very, good friends who raised their families together. “As a teacher, she really loved the physical exam. She never lost her sense of wonder and fascination with the fact that we examine parts of the body and diagnose and treat illnesses.

“As a doctor she was dedicated, smart and kind. Her patients were devastated by her loss. When she passed away we all inherited her patients. And hers were big shoes to fill. I got into the habit of asking (her patients) what was it about her that made her special? They would always say, ‘she really listened to me, and she really knew me as a person.’ I think that would be my advice to you moving forward.”

Harris explained that after Stanfield’s death, people donated money to DotHouse in her honor, which will be used to support activities of importance to Stanfield. It will fund an update of and renaming of the BUSM Clinical Skills Simulation Center, because Stanfield was instrumental in its establishment. The donations also established the Lorraine Stanfield Scholarship at DotHouse for a medical student summer internship between first and second year focused on community health work and a special project. “It’s been a really great way to honor Lorraine and combine her interest in teaching and community health and primary care,” said Harris.

Darienne Madlala standing behind a podium speaking

Harris introduced Darienne Madlala, a second-year MD student, who was the inaugural recipient of the Lorraine Dudley Stanfield Scholarship. Madlala worked at DotHouse last summer focusing on a hypertension quality improvement project, but also spent time in urgent care, infectious diseases and going on home visits with Harris.

“When I first got to DotHouse and I was introduced as the Lorraine Stanfield scholar and the reaction was consistently the same. ‘Oh, my goodness. Oh, I love her so much. Thank you,’ and then people would dive into a story they had about Dr. Stanfield.

“I realized that Dr. Stanfield really was someone here. And I consistently heard the notion of big boots to fill. Providers who had inherited her patients all agreed. Her impact was made very clear to me when I was there over the summer.”

The lecture was followed by a medical equipment kit distribution, which has been managed by the Medical Education office for more than 15 years, and funded by 1500 alumni donors over the past 13 years. The kit includes a diagnostic set (stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope), blood pressure cuff, tuning forks, reflex hammer and a paper gown. Also included was a card with the name and contact information of their alumni donor. Gathered together as a class, they tried out their new stethoscopes and wrote thank you notes to the donors who made the day possible.

In addition, Dr. Elizabeth Dooling (MED’65) continued her annual tradition of being the primary alumna donor of Dr. Atul Gawande’s book, “Being Mortal.”

“Lorraine Stanfield was the essence of doctoring. She cared deeply for her students and wanted them to truly become premier clinicians. Before she passed away, she was sick and had to be seen in the ER. A former student came in to see her. Lorraine knew that she had fluid in her lungs and knew that the student could learn from her physical exam. Despite being the patient and feeling ill, she walked the student through her own physical exam so that the student could hear the lung sounds. That was who Lorraine was as a teacher and a person. Today’s doctoring course is due to the work Lorraine started and that we now build upon,” said Garg.

View more photos from the event on Facebook.

If you missed the Lorraine Stanfield Memorial Doctoring Lecture, click here to view it. Use password:  0xT!VeZh