BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A first-year medical student who posed as an elderly patient completed her 10-day stay Friday at a nursing home in Biddeford, an experience she says "changed her life."
As part of the University of New England program called "Learning by Living," Sarae Sager checked into the St. Andre's Health Care Facility as an 85-year-old who just suffered a stroke.
The staff treated her like all the other residents — she was bathed, ate pureed food and was on a medication schedule.
She said the experience got a little stressful when she was moved to a different floor, forcing her to adjust to a new routine, staff and another patient in her room. She said the experience gave her a new perspective on how patients want to be treated: with compassion and patience.
"It takes the time to get to know these people," Sager said. "Some of them have a hard time hearing with you or communicating with you some things can't be done in five minutes or 15 minutes."
Sager kept a journal of her experience which could end being published in a medical journal one day. More than 50 UNE medical students have completed the 'learning by living' program since 2006.