“We have a drug seeker in two,” the nurse declared. My preceptors responded with a long sigh, and they rolled their eyes in unison. My pulse quickened.
Overhead, we hear the monotone hospital announcer’s voice through the intercom system: “CODE BLUE. First floor. Short-term cardiac care unit. Room…”
Though the white coat’s role in medicine today is complex — to some, a respected symbol of medicine’s history; to others, a antiquated relic of a paternalistic past — few medical students or frontline residents would deny this emblematic item one major utility: a source of pockets.
Medicine is a sacrifice. I knew this upon admittance into medical school. I did not know the sacrifice would be an erosion of my humanity.
“Are you okay, sweetie?” asks the intern as we start to ascend. She is completely unconscious, looking into nothingness. I start to feel the adrenaline. “I don’t think she’s okay,” remarks the intern.
In medicine, as in medical training, time is the enemy. There is not enough time to talk to patients or study for board exams. There is not enough time to read the latest literature. At the end of the day, there is not enough time to make plans with friends or develop a gym routine that is anything but sporadic.
Integrating a collaborative approach towards developing an individualized medication regimen while recognizing the patient’s personal goals will serve to further develop the physician-patient bond, and improve medication adherence.
While there is no way to choose our patients’ outcomes, we can certainly choose to be empathetic and compassionate regardless of their outcomes. Medicine without empathy and compassion is not medicine at all.
These athletes spend their lives on the icy curves of a track, perfecting turns on the edge of their skis or in the perfect rotation of an airborne jump. In medicine, we also endure repetitive daily training in order to perfect the art of diagnosis, treatment and procedures.
Despite her poor prognosis, she had abandoned her former life and traveled around the world to be with her son. She believed that revealing the truth would only put a strain on their relationship, and she was not ready for that.
Empathy is a muscle you have to exercise just like any other. It is a choice. It’s something you have to study and practice and sometimes fail at and always try again.
When I applied for medical school, I knew I was signing up for hard work. I knew I would have to spend countless hours studying, that my sleep cycle might never be the same. But I had not expected this.