June 26, 2019 — When Dru Curtis ruminates on his first year of training at the UF College of Medicine, one lesson remains top of mind: great patient care requires more than what can be learned in textbooks.
While volunteering at the Equal Access Clinic, a network of community medicine free clinics staffed by UF College of Medicine students and faculty, Curtis initially found himself preparing by studying the pathology of each and every disease he could find. With time, he realized there was a key component not mentioned in his books: the patient-physician relationship.
“Through working at the Equal Access Clinic, I learned to keep the patient in mind and build a relationship with them,” Curtis says. “It’s a balancing act between providing the best clinical care for your patient and having the knowledge to properly treat them.”
Curtis continues to perfect that balancing act with help from the William W. and Marie Wolff Scholarship Fund. Established by Marie Wolff as a tribute to her husband, William, the fund supports students who demonstrate commitment to principles of kindness, charitable service, sincere interest and trust among doctor and patients. Curtis says the scholarship has provided much-needed peace of mind.
“It’s a whole different ballgame dealing with the financial stress of medical school. As soon as that stress enters your mind, that’s what you’re focusing on,” Curtis says. “Having this support allows me to focus on becoming the best physician I want to be instead of stressing over finances.”
Curtis says medicine has long been a focal point for him. Before he was born, a surgeon treated his father for life-threatening gunshot wounds. That story left an impact, and though he’s keeping an open mind, he aims to enter a surgical specialty after completing medical school. Another experience that influenced Curtis to pursue medicine was shadowing South Florida-based family medicine doctor Rhea Ramlal, M.D., as an undergraduate student.
“I watched Dr. Ramlal’s interactions as she was preparing to relocate to a new town. She was telling her patients she would match them with a new physician. They were struck by the news and upset. I had never seen a physician-patient relationship like that. It showed the impact you can have as a physician,” Curtis says. “An appointment can be a 15-minute interaction for you, but it can change your patient’s whole life.”
He has three years of medical training left, but Curtis already has found the UF College of Medicine to be an inspiring and motivational environment.
“I look around at our professors and my classmates, and I’m in awe every day. They’ve done so many outstanding things. To be able to collaborate with them, learn from them and maybe teach them something is a wonderful thing,” he says. “They drive you to want to be a better physician.”