Divine Mercy Care helps coordinate the student rotations at Tepeyac as a project of our Medical Education and Outreach Program. For four weeks Jacqueline Ramirez came to Tepeyac OB/GYN as one of her core clinical rotations required to complete her studies for the Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies at James Madison University. JMU already had a regular relationship with Tepeyac, and Jackie lived in the area. It was her only rotation with a faith-based practice, and she learned about the powerful impact faith has on patient healthcare. She began by shadowing the Tepeyac doctors, then moved to making initial patient contacts and interviews when the patients agreed to see an interning PA. Finally, she got to assist with some medical procedures. She particularly appreciated witnessing Dr. Bruchalski’s love of the whole patient including the spiritual side, his vision of healthcare, and his willingness to give patients the time they need. She was also inspired by the midwife Kim Terhune for her medical artistry, which Jackie attributes to Kim’s experience as a loving mother of five.

Jackie especially appreciated seeing that at Tepeyac, all patients, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds, are treated with unfailing respect—something, she pointed out with regret, that you don’t see at all medical facilities. The Tepeyac staff would pray with and for the patients if they wished. She liked the comfortable, friendly atmosphere in which patients were never pressured for time, and the respect given to each patient to make her own decision given the different treatment options offered.

One of her cases involved a pregnancy where it was known that a baby had a severe genetic abnormality and unfortunately would not survive very long after the birth. The family wanted to continue with the pregnancy and was provided with all the support they needed. Jackie was grateful to see the family assisted by Tepeyac’s Kristen Anderson Perinatal Hospice that facilitated a plan to ensure the parents’ wish to baptize their baby and spend every second possible with the baby before they had to say their last goodbyes. Jackie was humbled by the experience she had at Tepeyac, a place where she witnessed rejoicing with those who rejoice at a healthy birth, and mourning with those who mourn a lost child. Providers at Tepeyac honor the grieving process of families with the dignity and respect they deserve.

The entire experience deepened the desire to give of her talents to work for others, and also underscored the importance of faith in medicine. Having taken her PA boards, Jackie will be working for a gastroenterology practice. Additionally, she also wants to be involved in primary medicine, perhaps through volunteer work at a clinic for the poor such as the Mother of Mercy Free Clinic near her home in Manassas. For the long run, Jackie would like to become a medical educator and will be applying for a fellowship to complete a Doctorate in Medical Sciences. Tepeyac is so grateful to have had her.