It’s the proverbial question. Starting from the first time you utter an interest in medicine. Your parents, your friends, your mentors, your teachers, admissions committees — everyone asks you, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” This is not just a question you should think about before medical school, but one to revisit throughout your career.
Despite this, most medical students will obtain little formal leadership training. We seek to improve our leadership abilities as burgeoning physicians. We developed this podcast to challenge ourselves to explore ideas in leadership development and how they apply to medical training.
Allowing natural death gives the elderly and terminally ill the opportunity to control the end of their life, providing empowerment and a sense of peace during their time of uncertainty. This patient and her family’s forethought allowed us to provide medications to ease her pain and discomfort. When she closed her eyes for the last time, her body relaxed into the sheets, and I pulled the blanket up to her shoulders. Her family said goodbye, and then I began to perform post-mortem care.
After this conversation, I am left thinking about ways in which medical schools can create an environment that is more welcoming and safer for students of color. An important part of learning is feeling comfortable enough to make mistakes in order to better identify opportunities for learning and growth.
Tanner always planned on becoming a physician, but found himself with a gap year before medical school. During this time, he began teaching different levels of students and soon realized how much he enjoyed tailoring concepts to fit the needs of his varied audience. He told me about his first failed lesson in anatomy, when he learned the hard way that kindergartners can get rowdy and don’t quite know their colors yet.
On June 12, the Trump administration issued a Department of Health and Human Services rule that eliminated the protections transgender patients had under the Obama administration from discrimination by doctors, health care providers and hospitals. A few days later, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Bostock v Clayton County, which stated that LGBTQ individuals could not be discriminated against in the workplace.
Two years of intense studying should have culminated in a feeling of strength. I ended my second year of medical school thinking I was now prepared to do anything. I was excited to be a problem-solver, armed with the mental acuity to recognize diseases from A to Z, ready to proceed with the next step in my clinical training. Now, in my third year, it is finally time to act like a real doctor. But our superiors treat us like their personal assistants.
Now that I am a little older and deep into my medical education, I realize how well Moby Dick elucidates the values of resilience, interconnectedness and self-renewal in medicine. In fact, there is one “character” that epitomizes the lessons we as health care providers can learn from Melville’s work: Ishmael.
I packed up my new backpack, laptop, notebooks and pens early in the morning. The anxiety was palpable as my housemates and I dressed up to make our best impressions on our first day of medical school. This was unfamiliar territory. I had become so accustomed to my hectic routine as a college student by day and a nurse in the emergency department (ED) by night, but what would life be like as a “professional” student?
After our conversation, I’ve been thinking a lot about creating community. As students of color, especially in areas with low diversity, we create our communities of allies with other students of color or students who are open-minded and willing to learn. For students who come from places with established diversity, the transition to creating communities of their own can be a challenge.
This column is for the non-traditionals, like me. We graduated with a goal, worked with a purpose and returned to school with a dream. I left health care for more health care; I switched stethoscopes on my first day of medical school.
For my first student interview, I spoke with Nana Amma Sekyere. She is a fellow second-year medical student at Central Michigan University College of Medicine (CMED). She actively promotes diversity at CMED by leading the Student Diversity Committee.