Introduction to LEAPP

Longitudinal Experience to Appreciate Patient Perspectives, or LEAPP (quite the acronym, no?), is a program that aims to allow students to learn about what it is like to live with a chronic illness, and to introduce students to medical systems that provide care to patients with chronic diseases. Pairs of MS1s are matched with one patient (pediatric or adult) and stay in contact with the patient throughout their 1.5 preclinical years.

Today, an MS1 shares his experiences so far with the program. On Thursday, an MS3 will be sharing how LEAPP has impacted her medical education.

As I began my first year at Penn Med, I looked forward to the LEAPP program, although I wasn’t all that sure about what to expect. I knew I would have the opportunity to interact closely with a patient and their family during my first year and a half at Penn. Throughout that time I would have the chance to learn how different aspects of patients’ backgrounds and personal experiences shaped their care and personal approach to their illness.

From the day we first met our LEAPP preceptor and pediatric patient, I quickly realized how fortunate we were to have this opportunity and how invaluable it would be. Our LEAPP preceptor carefully spoke with and selected families that he had the pleasure to work with during his career and that he believed would be open to this experience. They were willing to answer our questions and were genuinely kind and caring people.

It was immediately evident how much our preceptor cared for his patients. At our LEAPP check-ins, he encouraged us to consider how our patient’s experiences and our own experiences influenced the provision of care. While it could be easy to get lost in all of the science we were studying the first semester, these experiences allowed us to maintain our perspective on what were equally, if not more, important lessons that would truly develop our ability to provide competent, exceptional care to our patients in the future, especially those facing chronic illnesses.

Above all, the interaction my LEAPP partner and I have had with our patient and their family has been invaluable. We have not only been able to learn about our patient’s experience, but also how the family deals with their child’s chronic illness. We’ve witnessed how hard our patient works to overcome numerous obstacles and heard stories of how the parents went out of their way to provide their child with rich and diverse opportunities. They have expressed their gratitude towards the care our preceptor provided and have refused to succumb to the constant pressure and stress. Most importantly, they have generously given their time to answer our questions about how their personal beliefs and background influence their perception of their child’s illness and their interaction with medical system. After just one semester, the LEAPP program has already proven to be one of the most interesting, insightful and meaningful experiences I’ve had at Penn, and I look forward to learn even more from my LEAPP patient and preceptor.

Chris Corbett is an MS1 from Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Williams College in 2013 where he majored in chemistry and math and then spent one year working at Boston Children’s Hospital before starting at Penn. Outside of class, Chris enjoys hiking, swimming, running along the Schuylkill River, and exploring Philly’s awesome restaurant scene.

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