University of Michigan Medical School Students, Faculty Fast For a Day to Better Understand Muslim Patients

Tina Reed, AnnArbor.com, Sept. 10, 2009

Long before sunrise Wednesday morning, second-year University of Michigan medical student Jess Guh and some of her classmates dragged themselves to Denny’s restaurant to grab a bite to eat.

They don’t typically eat that early, but they wanted to get something in their stomachs before fasting for the Muslim observance of Ramadan.

“It’s the only place that’s open at 4 in the morning,” Guh said.

She and many of her medical school friends aren’t Muslim, but as future physicians, they were trying to better understand how annual Ramadan fasting would affect the lives of their Muslim patients.

They were among about 100 students and about a dozen faculty who participated in the Muslim Medical Students Association’s Fast-A-Thon Wednesday. The event encourages members of the medical school community to try to adhere to the traditional fast from eating or drinking anything between dawn to dusk for one day of Ramadan. U-M was one of many campuses across the United States with similar events.

“In terms of understanding the science and the physical effects of fasting, that’s something we can learn in lecture. Of course, we know what happens to a person’s glucose levels when they don’t eat for several hours,” Guh said. “As a provider, this helps us understand better why it would be important enough for one of our patients to do this.”

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