Entering the medical field ushers you into a new world of understanding the body and tribulations that it can undergo. Along with it you meet interesting colleagues, mentors, and friends. However, it is also easy to be trapped in this world of medicine. You can easily become blind to the rest of the world. So read the paper, watch the news, and catch a movie. Remember, aside from a doctor, you are a member of society in general. And so are your patients.”
This IM popped up on my screen just before my brother wished me goodnight, and it made me start thinking about what a transformative experience entering the medical field has been.
As medical students, we have been chosen out of thousands of applicants to become physicians.
So what? What does that mean?
It means so much more than getting good grades in undergrad and scoring well on standardized tests. It means that we have been chosen as individuals who can be trusted with others people’s lives. At times this may mean saving our patients from death, but more often it means that we must do our best to improve their quality of life through our every interaction. This is a great honor and we can be proud of our accomplishments thus far, but we should be aware of and humbled by this immense responsibility to humanity.
Before entering medical school, I often saw most positive things I did as things I did for myself. Learning was to get a good grade or due to personal interest. I worked out because it made me feel good. I went out with my friends because I had fun doing it. I slept, watched TV, listened to music and read books because I felt like it. My interactions with the world were all about me.
My brother’s midnight words of wisdom struck me, especially the end. He said, “You are a member of society in general. And so are your patients.” These words made me realize that now everything that shapes me will somehow affect my patients. It made me see that the way I treat my life no longer is just about me. What I do, think and feel has everything to do with the people I treat, so I am responsible to make positive choices for me in order to be the best physician for them.
Healing as a physician is a process involving knowledge, medical care, emotional support and the ability to connect with your patients. These skills can only be developed if we remember to live both in and outside of our books.