Audrey Potts ’17, Memorial Sloan-Kettering

Audrey-PottsOn March 17th 2014 at 10:20am, I arrived at The Memorial Sloan-Kettering New York City oncology clinic. Upon my arrival, Dr. Ariela Noy ‘86 quickly greeted me with a handshake and immediately proclaimed, “I have already seen three patients, and filed 12 protocol violation reports. It is only 10:30 am!” After that spontaneous introduction, I knew that my day was going to be exciting and full of activity!

Dr. Noy was scheduled to see over 23 patients in her clinic the day that I visited! Before seeing each patient, Dr. Noy pulled me into her office, and we discussed the patient’s situation. She told me every patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, and current treatment plans, and even showed me some scans of her patients (Figure 1). After getting a synopsis of each patient, she allowed me to go see the patients with her. This experience alone was incredible. I got to put a face, a name, an identity to each chart entry that Dr. Noy showed me just moments earlier. I was amazed by Dr. Noy’s ability to confidently interact with each patient about their current situation and explain to them the next steps in managing their cancer. What inspired me the most was Dr. Noy’s compassion toward her patients. After every patient visit, Dr. Noy made sure to give each of them a warm, hopeful hug or a other supportive gesture. I noticed that each patient was immediately uplifted by Dr. Noy’s simple act of caring and I was able to see that compassion and affection were essential characteristics necessary to be a doctor. Character can be just as important as knowledge.

After meeting a few patients with Dr. Noy, I was caught off guard because I realized I had not stopped smiling since I entered the clinic. My expression was filled with an enthusiastic, engaged, and inspired grin that I could not seem to get rid of. I couldn’t help but think that running a medical clinic could be something that I could do for the rest of my life. Throughout the day, as I learned more about Dr. Noy, I couldn’t help but notice that I share so many similar characteristics with her. She is a very organized, passionate, smart, caring, and outgoing individual, who thrives on a busy lifestyle. As her assistant accurately stated “she is like a machine.” The more I compared myself to Dr. Noy, the more I knew that this job could be a perfect fit for me. Above all, Dr. Noy is still able to have a family as she has three kids, as well as pursue other passions, such as painting. I noticed that Dr. Noy’s life as a doctor is very busy and every day brings new challenges, but after my visit to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, I feel more confident that I could adopt the lifestyle of a successful doctor and I am now even more inspired to pursue medical school and eventually become a doctor.

Among the many stories that Dr. Noy told me, the one that stuck out the most was the one about a patient that had an aggressive type of lymphoma and one day the patient went into cardiac arrest right outside Dr. Noy’s office. Dr. Noy ended up breaking multiple ribs while reviveing her and she ended up saving the patient. This patient was due to see Dr. Noy the day that I visited and she is still alive living with lymphoma two years later with good quality of life! At the end of her visit, the patient said, “Thank you doctor. All I need is a hug.” Sure enough, without hesitation, Dr. Noy embraced the patient and the patient’s expression when she left the clinic was irreplaceable. Dr. Noy is a hero in my eyes and I want to be in her position. I want to be part of the triumph of knowing that my work had saved someone’s life. That feeling is so powerful.

Although many of the patients that Dr. Noy and I saw were on the road to recovery from their disease, there were some very unfortunate cases where the patient didn’t have many more treatment options. I was heartbroken for the individuals that didn’t have much chance of survival, but I know that Dr. Noy has hope for all of her patients and she will never give up on them. I learned that as a doctor, your emotions go on a roller coaster every day, but it is important to stay sane to ensure you perform at your peak. Dr. Noy has mastered this skill as she masks her stresses with confidence, knowledge, and a great sense of humor. She didn’t hesitate to crack a couple of good jokes throughout the day.

Potts 2At the end of my visit I met an incredibly diverse group of patients with unique identities and stories. I learned so much about the current ways that oncologists are treating their patients and I learned that the life of a doctor requires a lot of dedication, expertise, compassion and organizational skills among other qualities. Dr. Noy showed me that the life of a doctor is very rewarding, but  a doctor must also endure  many challenges. This experience opened my eyes to how my character and habits fit the lifestyle of a successful doctor and it increased my interest in pursuing a career in the health care industry. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to experience the life of a doctor first hand and learn about the every day decisions they have to make. My day shadowing Dr. Noy will never be forgotten. Dr. Noy is an incredible mentor and she is someone that I look up to. She is an inspiring individual and I am so honored that she let me into her life and show me the ropes of being a successful doctor.

Quote: “The subtitle under my name tag should be ‘cheerleader.’”
– Dr.  Ariela Noy