I was nervous coming into my month with Asniya as I had never worked as a teacher before and I had never spent any time on a reservation and wasn’t sure exactly what I was in for. I remember walking into Red Cloud and meeting my students on the first day of my rotation, and having this anxiety melt away as I immediately realized that it was going to be an exciting month. Each morning the students would excitedly pile out of their school buses into the classroom. They couldn’t wait to hear what the lesson plan was for the day and get their hands on the medical equipment I brought, or the animal organs that were dissected for each organ system.
Many students already had their minds made up that they wanted to work in a wide range of healthcare careers. As a future anesthesiologist who hadn’t even really considered anesthesiology before medical school, I was pretty impressed to learn that we had an 8th grader who already firmly had his mind set on being an anesthesiologist.
I was assigned to teach at three schools, Red Cloud Middle School, Our Lady Lourdes School, and Porcupine Day School. I taught a total of 160 students and spent 1-2 days per week at each school. Through my time on the Pine Ridge reservation I taught lessons on careers in healthcare, first aid, the GI system, the cardiovascular system, the nervous system and mental health with as much hands-on material built in as I could manage.
There is so much that I will take away from this experience. This program was an excellent wrap up of my fourth year of medical school, and gave me confidence to jump into unfamiliar situations. I met so many people who very passionately care about the education of their students, and went above and beyond to welcome and accommodate me. I improved my own skills as an educator and as a public speaker, both of which will be very important skills as I continue through my residency and beyond. I learned so much about a culture of resilient people and saw previews of the bright future of their youth. I consider Asniya one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I look forward to returning to Pine Ridge in the future.