Meet Talia Paradiso, a second-year student at Albany Medical College who participated in Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's 2020 Summer Institute for Medical Students program. Talia shares how her week shadowing clinicians and patients at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, touched her heart and opened her eyes to how she can best help future patients and their families. Why did you apply to the Summer Institute for Medical Students program? Substance use disorders are not only pervasive but all-encompassing. The condition affects every aspect of a person's health. No matter the medical specialty I pursue, I will be working with patients who need me to understand the nature and implications of this disease. The program offered the valuable opportunity to learn directly from patients and specialists willing to share their personal experience. As a future physician, what was your biggest takeaway from the experience? My experience at the Betty Ford Center reinforced the importance of caring for the whole person. Patients are in a very vulnerable state when they enter treatment, but with compassionate care, including medical support, they can start to take back their lives physically, emotionally and spiritually. That's what's so amazing to me about treatment for substance use disorder. I can't think of any other medical intervention and healing process where the patient has such agency in reclaiming their life. How has the experience changed the way you will practice medicine in the future? For too many people, stigma and shame about the disease are significant barriers to seeking help. As a physician, I can ease the way for patients to get the help they need and deserve by initiating conversations with empathy and by looking into factors that might not be obvious, such as social determinants of health. The program made me more aware of the patient's perspective in the examination room and how I might come across as the doctor in the white coat asking a checklist of questions. I learned how to, instead, communicate in nonjudgmental and accepting ways in order to gain a better understanding of the patient's situation and identify the most helpful next steps. Was there anything about your experience that was unexpected? The people I met—the patients, especially, and also the clinical staff and other medical students from all corners of the country—showed such compassion, courage and strength. Listening to patients in group therapy who were so open and honest about their struggles, regrets, losses and hopes was moving beyond words. I left the program feeling completely reenergized about the practice and possibilities of medicine. I'm grateful to be armed with information and inspiration that prepare me to be a part of the recovery process.