The below poem was written during a weekend away in Indianapolis. I watched an apparently homeless older gentleman sitting outside a coffee shop for several minutes while I read. It was a generous reminder that our patients should be seen in their environment and not only in our own, with fluorescent lights and temperature control. We all have different backgrounds and life circumstances and drastically effect our behaviors and choices.
You’ve seen Mr. H before. He comes in occasionally, usually at the end of the month, when his Social Security money runs out. He’s homeless, has no family to speak of, and his success in the community is tenuous, effectively measured by how many dollars of disability money he has saved.
Over the course of residency and fellowship training, it’s likely that almost all trainees will encounter veterans through rotations at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. With mandates from Title 38 and long-standing relationships with academic institutions nationwide, the Veterans Health Administration plays a significant role in shaping the education of future medical professionals.