Gondolas, S’mores, and Overwhelming Beauty

I made the mistake of thinking that as a well-seasoned runner, the altitude wouldn’t dare touch me. I was wrong. It wasn’t a mile in that I started gasping for air and didn’t seem to be catching any. Apparently one is expected to ‘acclimate’ before these runs become enjoyable. This information was provided post-run, of course!

I knew Colorado was beautiful. I’ve been here before. But I have never been to Telluride. And let me just say- it brings a whole new meaning to the word Beauty with a capital B. Mountains stretch on for miles and miles and the view from just about any point is spectacular. I keep finding myself fiddling with my camera and my smartphone camera trying to capture just a glimpse of how incredible it is here, only to be disappointed. The lighting is off, the flash doesn’t capture it correctly, a gondola passes by at just the wrong time. In a way, it makes the beauty more serene, because only those present here can enjoy it. You have to experience it- taste it, feel it, or in my case, gasp it- to truly appreciate the vastness of it.

The people here are wonderful! I don’t know what I was expecting. Quite honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything. I had zero time to consider what it would be like to get here since my previous weeks have been filled with final exams, medical licensing board exams, and moving cross-country. All in all I am very pleasantly surprised. The people who are my age have so much in common with me! We are all struggling through this thing called “medical school” in some form or fashion, be it for an MD or DO degree, nursing degree, or health sciences masters degree. The people who are older have a seemingly infinite knowledge base of experience from which I hope to draw stories after stories to add to my own ‘lessons learned’ by the end of my stay here. We are already forming friendships, as our commute into town and back to the lodge involves squeezing into gondolas and experiencing/continually commenting on the beauty of this place together. We even made s’mores tonight over an open flame! Talk about creativity and brainstorming at its finest!

I am also quite surprised at how important this little shindig is. I knew many students applied, but I didn’t realize how carefully selected we all were. Before we had a chance to get puffed up from being flattered by that bit of information, we were reminded of the crippling truth of why we are gathered here- many students and faculty have been directly affected by a negative patient outcome, be it fatal or nearly fatal. The authors of two novels all the attendees read in preparation for this conference have studied negative patient outcomes and the psychology behind them in depth. Lastly, the families of children who have lost their lives due to medical inadequacies on the communication front are in attendance to share their stories with us. I was taken aback by the support and interest and frank seriousness of the whole matter. I knew from the reading that this was a real issue. But I don’t think being told families of people who have lost children would be in attendance wouldn’t softened the blow to my heart.

I am so looking forward to the next few days. I can already foresee the dedication the students, faculty, and families with personal stories have. I am so excited to learn and soak up the many different techniques and tools with which we students can equip ourselves to tackle this hugely devastating and largely ignored/accepted tragedy. Wish us luck as we go on this journey of personal and professional growth!

-Christine Beeson