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Insight from the Other Side of the Bedside


Karly Brown and Amanda Breem

Two students currently enrolled in Jefferson College of Health Professions' Occupational Therapy Program are giving other students a chance to see the medical world through the eyes of the patient, in unique speaking engagements that are part case study and part personal story.

Karly Brown, now 23, experienced a stroke two years ago and Amanda Breem, 21, underwent multiple neurosurgeries throughout her life for hydrocephalus, a build-up of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Now, they are speaking to other healthcare students to share their insight from the “other” side of the bedside.

“We genuinely understand what the patient is going through and the thousands of ways that they can feel,” Karly said.

Karly and Amanda both chose the Bachelor’s to Master’s occupational therapy program at Jefferson College of Health Professions. Karly applied to the program one week before her stroke and received her acceptance while receiving ongoing occupational and speech therapy. Amanda also knew she wanted to go into healthcare.

“I wanted to help others, like my neurosurgeon helped me,” Amanda said.

While at Jefferson, a professor asked them to share their stories with their classmates to shed light on what it’s like to be a patient. Amanda was nervous at first to share her story. Her health history was something that she had kept private for many years, fearing that others would only see her as a diagnosis. But she also wanted to serve as an empowering example to her patients.

Karly and Amanda presented their stories in tandem and after speaking at Jefferson, they have been asked to speak at Philadelphia University, Richard Stockton College and Misericordia University. They are hoping to share their stories with more people and give future healthcare providers an understanding of what it’s like to be a patient.

“As students, we see that it can be easy to view conditions as black and white,” Amanda said. “However, we know as individuals who have lived with a diagnosis, that each situation has shades of grey.”

They hope that the students they speak to will take their stories into their future healthcare careers, remembering what it’s like to be a patient

 “Our personal experience makes us better clinicians,” Amanda said. “We want to share what we’ve learned with other students.”