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Sawyeh Maher's Field Experience with Pulmonary Medicine and Infectious Disease Group

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Pulmonary Medicine and Infectious Disease Group is a pulmonology and internal medicine clinic that serves many different populations of patients. There are various physicians with different specialties at the clinic.

For Sawyeh's field experience, she worked directly with Dr. Anthony Cuomo every week. This would include shadowing Dr. Cuomo as he saw patients, reviewed test results and X-rays, and did other physician duties. "Dr. Cuomo took a very hands on approach with me," states Sawyeh; he first trained me to be able to assist him in physical examinations of patients. Dr. Cuomo not only taught me how to perform a thorough physical exam, but also taught me the skill of how to thoroughly read and understand a patient chart in a way that allows you to always give competent and culturally valid care to each patient. In any free time between patients, Dr. Cuomo (himself a former teacher) would teach Sawyeh (in depth) the mechanisms and etiologies of various diseases that we would come across in his patents. He would also give me weekly homework and had me research a condition that was common in his practice, and would then ask her to come discuss it with him and see if she could propose a better approach to treating it after doing research.

When asked about the challenges faced during her experience, Sawyeh stated "The main challenges I faced was seeing patients who were very sick and in pain, and often had complex problems that were difficult to treat and alleviate their pain."

"It always hurts to see people suffering, but the only way to overcome this was to realize that they are here at the clinic to get help, and that we were there to help them. Instead of feeling sad, you have to just work twice as hard to find out how to treat these patients and make them feel better again."

Sawyeh discussed a couple accounts of experiences that she found especially valuable during her field experience. "I learned so many valuable lessons from Dr. Cuomo that I will surely apply towards my career in medicine" she says, "but the most standout things are just the sheer amount of funny stories of his past memories about his patients that Dr. Cuomo would recount to me." Sawyeh describes one story Dr. Cuomo told her about a night that he was at a Christmas party in the early 70s, when he had just become a doctor. He was walking inside, when he heard a young man he hadn’t met who seemed to be breathing very loudly as he spoke (sign of an asthmatic). Dr. Cuomo approached him and jokingly said, “Do you always [expletive] breathe like that?”. The man started laughing, and the next day he was at Dr. Cuomo’s clinic for treatment. 50 years later, he still comes in every 3 months for a checkup, but his asthma has since been so under control that it is basically cured (he says meeting Dr. Cuomo that night saved his life!).

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