Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 125 | January 5, 2021

My Journey Into Medicine

Michelle Atwell

Certified Physician Assistant

Michelle Atwell

Welcome to Difficult Conversations- Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Over the years, I have found that healthcare providers who are genuine and able to relate to their patients through their own life experiences, are able to provide the best care, especially during difficult times. Today, I am honored to have as my guest, Michelle Atwell, a mother who managed the diagnosis of the life-threatening illnesses to her daughter and son, and today, is a Physician Assistant at a major healthcare system in Orlando, Florida. When Michelle lost her first child and only daughter, she was driven to invest her grief in the care and cure of other patients battling similar afflictions. She began volunteering with Shepherd’s Hope Clinic, first as a member of the general volunteer staff, and today as a licensed healthcare provider. She in the middle of publishing a contributing article to an upcoming medical genetics textbook and is the winner of the 2017 Nova Southeastern University PA Program Gold Standard Award. As always, Dr. Orsini keeps his promise about two things, that you will feel inspired, and you will have learned valuable lessons to be a better and more compassionate communicator.

Michelle tells us about her journey and the conversations she had with all the medical professionals during her daughter. She shares a specific story of a bad conversation she had with the neurosurgeon about the seriousness of her daughter’s diagnosis and how her life changed forever. Michelle tells us about an uncomfortable incident that happened with an oncologist and some student residents speaking to her daughter as if she was a “specimen.” We learn about a team of doctors at Duke that made her feel that she and her daughter were in good hands. She also tells us about a special doctor at Duke, who showed extreme compassion and stayed with her the whole time. She put all her trust in him. After her daughter passed away in 2003, Michelle tells us how she stayed home for a month, but then decided to go back to her job full time at the bank and go to school full time to stay busy and maintain some normalcy in her life. We learn about the birth of her son in 2005, what happened to him right after his birth, and the doctor who gave her the bad news. Thankfully her son survived, and even though life was looking good after going through some horrible experiences, Michelle decided to see a therapist. We find out what led her to her big career change into medicine, We end with Michelle telling us how she uses the experiences of losing a child while taking care of her patients, how it’s impacted her, and she shares some inspiring advice. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button to find out more about what we do and how we teach communication. Go ahead and download this episode now!

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