Speaker advocates for patient initiative

A hush fell over Carter Hall as almost two hundred students, faculty and health care professionals closed their eyes in unison and envisioned bad news.

Kym Martin, the keynote speaker at the third annual Health Informatics Tri-State Summit, asked attendees to put themselves in her shoes.

“Imagine a doctor saying, ‘It’s not the news we were hoping for. You have stage 3 colon cancer,’” she said. “As you slowly open your eyes and reflect, perhaps you felt a little fear, a little disempowerment.”

Before she arrived at the university to speak, Martin’s son told her to speak from the heart.

She said she took the initiative to seek medical attention in high school after her entire right arm became numb.

“That symptom literally saved my life,” Martin said. “That’s why I’m here today.”

The doctors discovered melanoma in her skin while Martin took charge of her skincare independently.

Martin has survived four bouts of cancer, and doctors confirmed that much of her health complications are a result of radiation therapy.

She said she’s an advocate for patients being involved in their care and not letting “doctors play God.” Patients need to take responsibility while doctors must show compassion.

“The health care system supports the acute (treatment of patients),” Martin said, “but there are gaps in its support of life after.”

After Martin’s keynote speech, there were smaller sessions with topics ranging from population health to health care’s presence on social media. The summit ended at 4:15 p.m.

Ben Stivers, a first year IU medical student, said the workshops and Martin’s story were “really interesting.”

This was his first time attending the summit, hosted by the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

“I’ve been around a lot of hospitals, and I want to help people,” Stivers said.

Stivers still has three more years of studying before he can move onto residency, which could last up to 7 more years.

Despite the demands of medical school, Stivers said health care is his calling, and he will provide the empathy Martin said all health professionals need.

“I want to show the beauty that medicine is,” he said. “It’ll always need to be served.”