As a student, you count on your supervisors to instill knowledge, confidence, and all the skills you need to seek and thrive in your future career. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll acquire some invaluable advice and life lessons along the way.
For three medical students who had the opportunity to study alongside Dr. Keith Pitchford, founder, president, and CEO of Great Lakes Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, P.C., this is exactly the type of journey they experienced.
From the first day Andrew Krueger walked through the doors of Great Lakes Orthopedics, he felt valued by everyone in the office.
“Dr. Pitchford treats everyone he talks to with the utmost respect. He’s one of the kindest, most humble human beings that I’ve ever met,” said Krueger, a 4th-year medical student at Midwestern University in Chicago. “It doesn’t matter if you are a fellow doctor, staff member, student, or janitorial staff, Dr. Pitchford will respect you and always remember your name.”
It may seem like a given but feeling valued as a student or intern goes a very long way in the education process. Jason Garrett, a 3rd-year medical student at Marion University in Indianapolis, attested to this.
“As a medical student, it’s hard to feel like we’re not in the way of things. We are still learning and are hesitant at times, but Dr. Pitchford was understanding of this and was always willing to teach us new things so we could have the best possible learning experience during our time with him,” Garrett said.
Pitchford respected his students, and in doing so he also taught them the importance of respecting patients.
“He treated every patient the way I would want someone to treat my own family member,” Garrett said. “He showed me that you can be this super talented surgeon, but also a human being. Connecting with your patients on a personal level is just as important. This exemplifies the type of surgeon that I strive to be someday.”
This expectation is based off a value that Pitchford personally holds daily, and has in turn stuck with Colin Wruck, a 3rd-year medical student at Northwestern University, long after his time shadowing Pitchford.
“Dr. Pitchford used to share a certain analogy with me often,” Wruck said. “He’d say how people would work so hard to climb mountains and reach their goal of climbing to the peak, but on the way down, they wouldn’t try as hard since the main goal had already been reached. He compared this scenario to surgery as an example of what not to do. The way back down is just as important. Finishing a surgery is just as important. You have to treat the final steps with just as much importance as the beginning and middle tasks.”
Krueger also reflected on a life lesson he acquired from Pitchford.
“One of the things Dr. Pitchford would always say is, ‘we are all God’s children’, and by saying this, he taught me that no matter how busy we may get as doctors, we are in our profession to serve our patients,” Krueger said. “Regardless of anything, it’s important to treat everyone the exact same way and guide our patients through the entire process.”
Krueger walked away from his experience at Great Lakes Orthopedics feeling re-charged.
“Since my time at Great Lakes Orthopedics, I feel a rejuvenation of my love for medicine. Being a medical student, there are many days where I feel tired and drained, but Dr. Pitchford reminded and re-instilled in me why I’m doing what I’m doing – to help patients. This will always stick with me,” Krueger said.
As Wruck continues pursuing his degree, he keeps with him all that Pitchford taught him, including the value of compassion and determination.
“I want to keep with me the compassion for patients that Dr. Pitchford displayed. He is so down-to-earth, hard-working, and passionate,” Wruck said. “During my four weeks at Great Lakes Orthopedics, I remember Dr. Pitchford became very sick, but he never once took a day off because he knew his patients were counting on him. It was amazing to see this dedication.”
Skills, life lessons, and the encouragement received are priceless in Wruck’s eyes.
“You don’t often come across a doctor like Dr. Pitchford. His compassion, personality, and skill level make him such a great role model,” Wruck said. “I will never forget my experience at Great Lakes Orthopedics.”
Krueger closed out his experience not only with new skills under his belt, but also a new way of thinking.
“I want to say thank you to Dr. Pitchford for reminding me that the positives always outweigh the negatives, and for restoring my passion and drive to finish school strong and move into the sports medicine field after graduation,” Krueger said.
To learn more about Great Lakes Orthopedics, visit http://www.glorthopedics.com/.