Rethink my Health | Changing Sepsis Lenses: From Adversity to Advocacy
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Changing Sepsis Lenses: From Adversity to Advocacy

Changing Sepsis Lenses: From Adversity to Advocacy

As a fourth year medical student at UNC School of Medicine, I’m humbled to be training at the university hospital that treated me for sepsis when I was 10 years old. I’ve had the privilege of seeing sepsis through various lenses: as a patient, a healthcare provider, and as a sepsis advocate.

It’s because of my unique experiences with sepsis that I strive to learn and practice medicine and hope to provide effective patient and family-centered sepsis education and interventions. My personal sepsis journey is mainly why I chose to pursue medicine, because it seemed like the best way to give thanks to those who helped save my life as a 6th grader. Through my various ‘sepsis lenses,’ I’ve observed a common theme: Urgency. For me, this urgency is obvious by my mother’s vivid memory of the pediatric ICU doctor running from the computer, to my room, and back to the computer during the first critical hours of my illness.

Individuals passionate about sepsis education, awareness, and treatment share this sense of urgency and continue to search and innovate for improved sepsis outcomes, as time is often the limiting factor in effective sepsis treatment. While at UNC School of Medicine, my research and teaching has focused on sepsis awareness in the outpatient setting and within the medical student population. I hope to prepare and provide the same sense of urgency within the healthcare community and my ‘future physician’ colleagues.

You could say that I’m still on my ‘sepsis journey,’ one that has come full circle. I was recently (and unknowingly) introduced to the ‘running pediatric ICU doctor’ mentioned earlier. I’m eternally grateful for the sense of urgency I was treated with over a decade ago, and hope my ‘sepsis lenses’ encourage others to continue innovating with united urgency for improved sepsis outcomes.

Acknowledgements: UNC Healthcare; UNC School of Medicine; Tina Willis, MD; Becky Smith, MD; Mark Piehl, MD, MPH|410 Medical; Helene and Jeff Zehnder; Thomas Heymann, Director of Sepsis Alliance

Hillary Spangler is a fourth year medical student at UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, NC, with plans to apply to Medicine-Pediatrics residency programs in fall 2016. At UNCSOM, she participates in quality improvement and education projects for improved sepsis outcomes. She completed her undergraduate Biology and Nutrition Science degrees at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, a time that inspired her interactive children’s book, “Where is Henry?”, and her business, spanglernest, LLC.

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