Amanda Quach, Medical Student
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences

Healing is miraculous, beautiful, life-changing, and sometimes unexplainable. In 1986, the journal Pediatrics published an article showing the effects of touch on premature babies in the neonatal-ICU. The small preterm babies were stroked for 15-minutes each day for 10 days. The ones that were touched showed an average of 47% greater weight gain per day, which coincided with a much higher chance of survival. What would you call a person whose simple touch alone kept you alive: a doctor or a healer?

When I first heard about this study as a little girl, I suddenly wanted to spread my touch, my love, and my ability to heal to everyone around me. As I grew older and discovered my love for biology, my burning desire to become a doctor grew stronger. Five months ago, I started my journey towards becoming both a healer and a doctor. As an osteopathic medical student, I’m learning to approach people as an integration of the mind, body, and spirit. Whether it is performing an osteopathic manipulation, listening to a person’s story, or touching someone’s life with a smile, I can hardly wait to get out there and heal!

The greatest aspect about osteopathic medicine is that it enables us to be healers through our two portable hands, without any x-ray machine or surgical procedure. Essentially, being an osteopathic student is everything I dreamed of. If I’m alone in a remote village in Africa, in a dangerous favela in South America, or in a rural community in Asia, I will have the knowledge and skills to still help these individuals.

Before starting medical school, I went on a medical mission trip to Vietnam. Day in and day out, we saw patients suffering from back pain, headache, and muscle aches. The general protocol was to perform an examination to make sure there was no other disease present, and then send them home with a small supply of Tylenol. Was this effective? Was this sustainable? On one of the bus rides, I sat next to one of our volunteer physicians and discussed ways to make a lasting impact in these patients’ lives. Suddenly, as we were driving along the rocky dirt roads, a light bulb went off in my head: eyeglasses! If we could correct their vision, the patients would get less headaches and many of them would be able to go to work again. A simple thing as eyeglasses could dramatically increase their quality of life. The idea grew in my head for the rest of the trip, and finally at the debrief on the last day, I presented my idea in broken Vietnamese to the rest of the group and our hosts in Vietnam. The very next year, we were able to solicit eyeglass donations from several drug stores and eye clinics for the succeeding trip.

Thus, I have experienced how healing can be wonderful AND sustainable, and although I’m gaining the knowledge to becoming a doctor, the core of me has always been a healer.