LUCOM first-year student-doctors meet Myles Gebhardt; honorary student-doctor
Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) welcomed eight-year old “honorary” student-doctor Myles Gebhardt on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Myles, along with his mother and father, annually visit LUCOM to present on Cystic Fibrosis; this week marked their fourth visit.
The family’s yearly presentation to first-year students is led by Anthony J.M. Bauer, PhD, associate professor of Physiology, and sponsored by LUCOM-American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians (ACOP). “We hope that students were able to recognize the importance that what we learn in medical school has real life applications,” said Sapna Khemka, Class of 2020, president of LUCOM- ACOP. “I feel like as students we may get burnt out with all of the learning in the classroom, but I have always felt that meeting patients and hearing their perspective on living with certain conditions can motivate us to continue to work hard to be the best physicians we can.”
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder that results in the dysfunction of multiple body organs and often causes a buildup of thick mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. Myles was diagnosed with CF after he was born and has had a challenging life with food because of the high-calorie intake he needs. To help, he digests specific enzymes every day, often mixed with applesauce, to help break down food and nutrients that keep him healthy. Throughout the last few years, Myles has made incredible improvements seen through treatment and careful control of his environment. Unfortunately, the Gebhardt family will spend decades dealing with Myles’ condition, though they remain optimistic and always faithful.
“Living with cystic fibrosis actually takes a lot more effort than I originally thought,” said Ashley Schlapper-Sevcik, Class of 2020, community outreach chair of LUCOM-ACOP. “Having the Gebhardt's come and discuss all of the drugs, supplements and equipment used daily for Myles really puts it into perspective on how much effort it takes to live with something like cystic fibrosis.”
Through another inspiring presentation, young Myles, once again, reminded LUCOM student-doctors on the positive impact a trustworthy physician can truly have on a patient’s life. “It is important for pediatricians to get on the level of their pediatric patients and it is clear that Myles really likes his doctor because of the way his physician makes him and his family feel comfortable and in control during visits,” Khemka said.
LUCOM-ACOP wanted student-doctors to take away from the discussion that although CF is a serious condition, Myles and others living with CF can still have fun and live a normal life. “Seeing a family in person and hearing from them about what they like and don't like to see in their physician will hopefully guide student-doctors on how to become a better physician themselves,” said Schlapper-Sevick.
LUCOM-ACOP partners with the Gebhardt family for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Great Strides Walk and participate on Myles for Miles, the Gebhardt’s team. Last year, Myles for Miles raised over $24,000 to support the mission of curing CF.