Medical students’ place in the hierarchy of medicine means we are routinely restricted in what we can (or should) say. That taboo list includes our own transformation — despite being only one of thousands impacted by medical education, all too often we are left alone to process how it changes us. Review of Systems is a series of down-to-earth slam poems by Kate Bock, putting words to the unspoken process not just of learning medicine, but of becoming a doctor.
Medical schools and hospitals across the nation proudly claim to be “starting a conversation” about mental health in medicine. I could lose the residency of my dreams for taking part in it.
How can doctors-in-training take advantage of the distinct liberty they have to bond the patient Stephan, a fourth-year medical student in Cincinnati when interviewed and now an ophthalmology resident, reflects on how the art of connecting deeply with patients is not prioritized — but this can be remedied. He tells a story about a patient he met on his internal medicine rotation that illustrates how medical students are in a unique position to cultivate relationships in health care.
How can doctors-in-training support patients and colleagues who are transgender? Olivia, a third-year medical student in Chicago pursuing a career in facial reconstructive surgery, transitioned from male to female while she was applying to medical school. As one of the few openly trans medical students in the country, she speaks about the stereotypes and logistical challenges trans people confront in medicine. Olivia aspires to use her own experiences as a trans person in the medical system – as both consumer and provider – to positively impact others in similar positions.
How can doctors-in-training learn to have hard discussions with their patients? Will, a fourth-year medical student intending to become an internist, recounts two formative patient encounters he had during his third year. In the first, he learned from an attending physician and a man dying from cancer the challenges of determining when it’s time to end treatment. In the second, he realized a non-English speaking patient did not understand that she had lupus, and thus took the initiative to more effectively translate to her what the condition meant.
How can doctors-in-training incorporate wisdom from spiritual traditions into the delivery of health care? Rembrandt, a second-year medical student in Chicago, shares his exploration of how lessons from Christianity offer him insight into life’s big questions that arise in medicine.
How can doctors-in-training practice not just patient-centered, but family-centered medicine? Carissa, a graduating fourth-year medical student in Indianapolis intending to pursue an obstetrics and gynecology residency, shares the lessons she learned as a medical student when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
How can doctors-in-training effectively voice doubt and dissent in the medical school environment? Joji, a fourth-year medical student who plans to go into family medicine, describes the conflicts he has had with his school’s administration, and what it feels like to live in fear of dismissal.
How can doctors-in-training honor the experiences of patients’ family members? Tarik, a fourth-year medical student, shares the lessons she learned from an Egyptian man who served as the primary caregiver for his wife, who had advanced multiple sclerosis.
How can doctors-in-training build relationships with patients despite language barriers? Chelsea, a fourth-year medical student who will soon begin family medicine residency training in Boston, recalls the lessons she learned about the power of nonverbal communication from a patient she met while working in Rwanda.
How can doctors-in-training overcome feelings of inadequacy? Robert, a fourth-year medical student in Philadelphia hoping to become a pediatric dermatologist, discusses the benefits of exposing his vulnerabilities.
How can doctors-in-training foster intimate connections to keep their passion for medicine alive? Sara, a rising medical intern in physical medicine and rehabilitation, reflects on the community activities she engaged in during medical school that allowed joy and presence to be a central part of her educational experience.