On March 19, I was asked to talk with almost 40 undergraduate students in a Health Promotion and Disease Prevention class taught by Professor Joan Riley within Georgetown University's School of Nursing and Health Studies. This was the fourth time I have spoken in this class over the last three years and every time I have more fun than the last.
These students are going to be the future of this country's health care industry, serving as doctors, nurses, and health care administrators and their curiosity about caring for people with disabilities always amazes me. When people have a genuine desire to learn, I am always happy and excited to share my perspective with them. This group was very interested in how medical professionals show approach people with disabilities in determining treatment and if that would be explicitly different than a patient without disabilities, my thoughts on proactive care, the type of physical activity that I do, my time as a student at Georgetown and how i managed campus from a wheelchair, and my opinion on research being conducted to cure spinal cord injuries.
Similar to other talks that I have given, I started by sharing the story of my accident and describing how my life has changed (but not ended) before inviting the group to ask me questions. I want to ensure that I am talking about topics that the audience is particularly interested in so I like to spend a majority of my time in a question and answer format. I am very comfortable answering questions and tell my audience that there are no questions that are off limits. If someone has the courage to ask a tough question, then I commit to having the courage to answer it.
I was so impressed with the way this group engaged during our 90 minutes together and I really had fun. In the days following the class discussion, I received a number of emails thanking me for coming to class, but also two students asked if they could interview me for essays they were writing.
Overall, a great experience and I was so happy that I could help a group a Georgetown students broaden their perspectives and approach to their future medical careers.