Student Spotlight

Preston Butler, (MED’22)

Specialty Interests:
Family Medicine

Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and BMC make up a mission-driven institution that cares for patients who have often been neglected by other systems. The people that choose to work and learn here are constantly morphing our programs and services to meet the needs of this underserved community and move closer toward true health equity every day. Their advocacy in patient care and research alike are inspiring. It is truly a place where I feel like I am surrounded by folks whose primary goal is to help others live the fullest life they can and meet their own personal goals, without their health hampering those dreams.

How do you spend downtime or what do you do for wellness?
I’m an avid hiker, most often going to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Since moving to New England, I’ve also become a more frequent camper, and I’ve given skiing a try and loved it. I also enjoy baking, and some of my favorite things to make are almond cake and blueberry scones. Finally, I love to dance! I was on the student dance team “Kulture” in my first two years of school.

Most memorable patient interaction?
While working at the West Roxbury VA Hospital as a Nursing Assistant in a medical student summer program to build nursing and other clinical skills, I had a patient that called me “Tennessee” (my home state). He had fresh news or a funny story to tell every day, and he always wanted to know how I was doing in addition to telling me about his own symptoms. He’d start the interaction by saying, “Uh oh, here comes Tennessee, you know there’s gonna be trouble” before he would always wink at me. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him as a nursing assistant, as he opened up to share stories of his life and his time in Vietnam. I will always be grateful to him and carry his life lessons on with me through my career in medicine.

What has been an unexpected experience or revelation?
The primary care doctor is a substantial character in the lives of many patients. As a future PCP, I will go through the highs and lows of life and health with my patients, and we will grow a relationship together over time. When I came to medical school, I did not appreciate the gravity of that relationship until I heard many patients tell me, “You’re learning from the BEST! Dr. So-and-so has been there for me through so many years, ever since I had X-Y-Z happen.” The realization that I could be such a doctor someday gives me the motivation to keep striving toward excellence every day, and it makes me excited to start residency very soon.

What’s it like to live in the MSR?
I chose to live in the MSR during my first year particularly because I did not know the area well and I did not know many people in Boston. Moving into the MSR reassured me that I had easily secured housing in a place that would help me build community with my fellow medical students.

What unexpected challenges have you faced as a medical student and how’d you overcome them?
I have had to learn to lean into discomfort over the past four years. I am someone who likes to feel prepared before starting a task or to have completed what I’m doing before moving on to something new. Thus, I anticipated I would learn the majority of skills I need to succeed on the wards in the first and second years, then hit the ground running! In retrospect, I feel like nothing can truly prepare students for the first time they feel the trust of a patient before them. I had to get comfortable with not knowing the answer and having different supervisors each day or week. I relied on my advisors and fellow students to get comfortable with this daily on-the-job improvement and accept that every day, I am a work in progress and have developed more skills than I possessed yesterday.