It takes an exceptional person to become a great physician or scientist. But excellence in medicine requires relationships that connect. And that's why at Weill Cornell, we place a special focus on mentoring. It's the foundation of the best patient care and the next big discoveries. That emphasis starts here, in the Dean's Office, and I am very proud of the results.
It's a scary journey, to be sick. You're in a world of total unknown. You just know that something's happening to your body that has always serviced you. And suddenly, somebody's saying, your heart's in trouble, your brain's in trouble, your kidney's in trouble, your hip's in trouble, you have cancer. Those are big things to hear.
I've had a kidney transplant, cataract surgery, a hip replacement, breast cancer. August, 2013, I had a stroke at 1:27 in the afternoon, at Macy's. And I don't want another one.
I've been an actress for 45 years, working all over the country in regional theater, but also working Broadway, off Broadway, television, film.
I've done a lot of Shakespeare. That's my favorite. I think about what I've done, and I could no more do it right now than fly. I would really like to go back to work. I don't quite know what that means yet. It may be on a simpler form. I just don't quite know what that is.
For a while, my first fear after the stroke was, what will I get back? What have I lost?
I'm not working now. My work is my recovery.
Friends always say to me, you've come such a long way. But I don't see it. It's how it feels inside that's different.
I'm vulnerable. I'm so vulnerable. I could tip over any minute, fall down, be knocked into. I feel a little dizzy. And sometimes, it's a bit of a struggle to speak it.
What's the worst feeling but not to be seen, not to be acknowledged? If you don't feel seen, you feel invisible. When I was in the hospital, I've had to tell a surgeon, come in out of that doorway and come over here to this bed and speak to me.
I'm not a number. I'm a person with a name and a history and a life that's been suddenly, dramatically interrupted as I know it.
I have three major doctors connected to Weill Cornell. My nephrologist is Dr. David Serur. My neurologist is Dr. Helena White, and my internist is Doctor Keith LaScalea.
That's great. That's actually a really nice way, so the students can prepare and be-- they know when it's coming.
Dr. LaScalea also runs the LEAP program at Weill Cornell. It's a program where a patient is assigned to a group of medical students, and they come with you to some of your appointments and participate in them, so that they can understand more and more the relationship between doctor-patient and what goes on in that room.
It's not you, the doctor, over there and me over here. It's more, we're meeting in the middle and we're partners.
My instinct at Weill Cornell is that they're receiving tremendous support, that they really care about what kind of doctors these are going to be.
Thank you so much.
Certainly, with Dr. LaScalea, he really cares about his students as individuals and what kind of a doctor are they producing.
Sure about that one?
Not just a memory machine who's learning, which obviously, that's terribly important.
What's the other thing that we worry about?
They're going to come out real human beings. So proud of them, to go into this field. I don't know why that makes me so emotional. But to want to help us.
Thank you for teaching these guys.
Such a young age, very special people. I don't know what takes you to that. But God bless them for doing it.
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Jennifer Harmon is a Shakespearean actress, Weill Cornell patient and mentor to three medical students. As part of Weill Cornell's LEAP program, she's teaching the next generation of physicians the importance of compassion and empathy in patient care.
Get an inside look at life at Weill Cornell Medical College and meet the people who shape the institution. The first season of Inside Medicine explores the different forms mentorship can take in medicine. Meet a patient who guides the next generation of physicians, a student about to earn her doctorate under the dean's counsel and an experienced psychobiologist who advises an early-career physician-scientist.