The first time I saw a vertebra in medical school was not in anatomy lab. It was on a Thursday afternoon on the playground at Rolling Bends, a low-income housing community in West Atlanta. The smooth, white bony processes poked through the woodchips alongside broken glass and cigarette butts, almost, but not quite, unnoticeable.
One week after I took Step 1, I found myself frustrated with my mother. The reason? Not completely clear.
Before long, I will become, to my patients, a keeper of time. With my long white coat will come the privilege of speaking to a patient who is learning what it means to have limited time left.
“From now on,” our deans told us at orientation, “society will see you as a doctor. Sometimes you may not feel like one, but that is what you are becoming. This week marks the beginning of that transition, which will continue in the months and years to come.”