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UVA Medical Students Learn about Caring for Refugee Patients

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Martina Scholtens spoke to UVA students on Sept. 19 Martina Scholtens spoke to UVA students on Sept. 19
"Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist" "Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist"
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

University of Virginia medical students got a first-hand look at what it means to be a doctor for refugees through a lecture at Pinn Hall.

On Wednesday, September 19, Martina Scholtens presented a lecture where she shared passages from her memoir, “Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist,” and discussed her hope for future doctors and nurses.

She said she wants people to look at refugees as more than just a political issue.

During her years at the refugee clinic in Vancouver, Canada, Scholtens wrote about the difficulty that some refugees faced in leaving their homes.

In her presentation, Scholtens compared the number of refugees that are able to come to Canada with the United States. She was surprised at the lack of available programs and resources for refugees in the U.S., including the lack of clinics specifically for them.

Scholtens says she hopes that UVA students are able to look at refugees as individual patients, and not just as a political concept.

“I hope that kind of seeing the intimate details of what an actual refugee presents within the doctor’s office humanizes the refugee and makes people maybe a bit softer in their stance towards them rather than seeing it as kind of an abstract political issue,” Scholtens said.

She added that she hopes that students are inspired not only to humanize their patients, but also to write about their experiences.

They don't have to start with a book, but she hopes that they can reflect on all their good work.

Scholtens's lecture was part of the Medical Center Hour series for UVA students.

The next lecture will take place on September 26 from 12 to 1 p.m.