Improving the future care of veterans was the theme of a discussion for University at Buffalo medical students. A panel discussion was held Wednesday afternoon at UB's Medical School on the South Campus. WBFO's Focus on Education Reporter Eileen Buckley says personal stories and research were shared with students.
"Even for myself, being with in the medical field, we had patients coming in all the time with gunshot wounds, below the knee amputations," stated Matthias Williams. Williams is a second year medical student at UB. He served on a First Forward Surgical Team in Afghanistan.
Williams shared his story with other students asking them to keep an open mind about the medical care for veterans returning from war.
Dr. Shauna Zorich is a UB graduate, who also served in the U.S. Air Force, appeared on Wednesday's panel discussion. Zorich reminded students of a growing female population of veterans, now at about 1.8-million.
"They're also the fastest growing segment of the VA users, so the VA is seeing more female veterans coming in," said Zorich.
But students also learned that it is not just current war vets they will be caring for. The largest veteran population is Vietnam War Veterans.
UB's Social Work professor Dr. Lisa Butler conducted research titled 'On Working with Veterans: What Social Work and Nursing Students Need to Know'.
"Each era has different issues. Different kinds of exposures, different kinds of combat issues," said Butler.
UB School of Nursing Professor Susan Bruce said we are finally getting smarter about the care of our veterans. "That stigma is not there. Now we're stopping people in the airport and thanking them for their service, where with Vietnam we booed them," noted Bruce.
Second year UB Med student Alexandra Reis helped organized the discussion.
"And I realize I just don't know that much about veteran care and I thought other medical students would be in the same sort of situation as me," explained Resi.
These future doctors said they learned to always ask if someone has served their country.
"As a group, veterans do so much for our country and I think that it is really important for us, as their future providers to learn the ways we can offer them better care," said Resi.
Second year UB Med student Kimberly Dorso and first year Med student Aarti Agarwal noted this was the first time they've discussed the care of a veteran.
"We haven't talked about veteran services at all, so I think it was helpful and just some common sense things that you don't necessarily thing about are good to keep in the back of your mind," said Dorso.
"I think the biggest thing I took away from the presentation today is it is important was that it is also important to acknowledge the family of the veterans and that they actually go through a lot of sacrifice and trauma from the experience," said Agarwal.