Off the Shelf
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One Tough Cookie


This path has been far from cookie cutter,
From being kneaded and rolled
By demanding needs to fulfill multiple roles,
I can’t help but wonder, will I make the cut?
Will I obtain that degree?
To place those letters “MD”
Behind my name as if I came first.

Or will I become overworked, burnt
Out by this stack of books containing
Knowledge I should have obtained,
Coinciding with clinical skills I managed to gain,
All the while chipping away bits and pieces of myself.
Sacrificing this and giving up on that
As duties continue to stack, one by one,
Until I am nothing left but a broken cookie
Crumbling at all my edges.

Feeling hopeless and eternally confined
To this room, my fort, as I study knee
Deep in the trenches on this battlefield called
Medicine for which you and I, yes we,
Have selected as a calling, as a passion.
Recall the words of that oath we have taken,
“To do no harm, to heal mankind,”
An honor remembered just in time to awaken
My senses, to stir those memories
Of why I chose to pursue this profession.

And so as I reflect on this committed path,
One that is semi-sweet, 70 perhaps 80% cocoa,
I restore my faith in my decision and my capabilities.
I replenish that well that ceaselessly is giving,
And smile, knowing that at my center, in my core,
I’m still one warm and gooey cookie human being.

Frances Tao (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of California, Riverside School of Medicine


Frances Tao is a second year medical student at UC Riverside School of Medicine. She graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology from UC San Diego in 2014. Her professional interests include lifestyle medicine and global health. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, sketching, and traveling.