As a young child, Logan McLennan ’19 underwent an open heart surgery that later inspired his interest in biomedicine. During this week’s All-School Meeting (ASM), McLennan, the winner of the 2018 Lorant Fellowship, shared his experience of working in a London hospital this summer.
The Lorant Fellowship provides funding for one selected student to travel to another country and pursue a topic of their interest over the summer.
McLennan began his speech by recalling childhood memories of the hospital as a patient.
“I was there for open heart surgery to repair a few things, and throughout the duration of my stay, I can’t remember any sort of fear or uneasiness. In the years following, I remember pestering my parents about why they were so scared, and why I wasn’t, or if I should’ve been,” McLennan said.
McLennan continued, “But the real root of it all was that I wanted to know how I could foster the optimism of my three-year-old self in this situation of child health care, how I could get everyone in my house to just agree that visiting the hospital was a positive experience just like mine.”
As a Lorant Fellow, McLennan shadowed various doctors at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital in hopes of better understanding the relationship between doctors and their patients.
While his role included many technical and medical responsibilities, such as helping doctors perform procedures, he was also tasked with more personal duties. According to McLennan, he found the human aspect, especially engaging with child patients and their families, to be particularly captivating.
McLennan said, “I focused on the way these kids spoke, their excitement levels about the hospital, about their healthcare, my Americanness, which was playfully commented on by patients and doctors alike. And their thoughts of their nurses, what makes them happy in general, what teams they root for in the World Cup, though nobody ever says England, and what instruments they liked. Each one stood out in such unique ways, with their own personalities.”
McLennan also recalled one memory that stood out to him from his summer. In London, he met a small child who received the same diagnosis he had received himself as a child. He described the effort the doctor took to help them understand the condition and its surgery, re-explaining and answering questions until the patient and mother had nothing left to ask.
According to McLennan, however, the doctor’s clarifications were not enough.
McLennan said, “After [the doctor’s] careful explanation, they tried to mask their fears, but, through body language, I could tell the mother was afraid, and the girl’s attention had become distracted.”
McLennan recounted that he was able to first-handedly engage with the patients once the doctor had left.
McLennan said, “To break the silence, they asked me about my experience in London, and then I told them about my own surgery and recovery. They listened intently as I reassured them, and even convinced them, that the surgery was nothing to fear. I was able to do many things in the hospital that I wouldn’t have access to here, but that day I was able to make a lasting impact on that family. I felt most connected to the patient in that moment, and I was convinced this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. They talked to their surgeon, and left the room, smiling.”
Jay Aziabor ’22 was impressed by McLennan’s ability to form a connection with the patient and ability to change his attitude.
Aziabor said, “I thought that what the Lorant Speaker did in England was truly amazing. The speech he gave at the All-School Meeting was expressive and it was also one that allowed everyone in the audience to understand what he went through when he underwent surgery and when he interacted with some patients inside the hospital he volunteered at. Learning about how he affected a patient who was diagnosed with the same condition he had made me rethink the importance of the human interaction of medicine.”
Sebastian Frankel ’20 said he found the more personally connected aspects of McLennan’s speech to be the factor separating McLennan’s experience from others.
Frankel said, “Logan’s speech stood out to me in that the underlying goals of his Lorant Fellowship lay in personal experience. In the past we’ve seen nominees engage in community service that either tops the news reels at the time or stands out to them as particularly interesting, and in Logan to choosing to work with a topic that has personally affected his life truly redefines the goals of the award and what can be achieve with the reception of it.”
After McLennan’s talk, the Lorant Fellowship presentation ended with a brief recognition of the two other finalists for the fellowship, Allison Zhu ’19 and Kelly McCarthy ’19.
Editor’s Note: Allison Zhu is a Commentary Editor for The Phillipian.