A recent publication in the Journal of Neurology caused significant outrage not only within a forum dedicated to Black doctors and trainees, but also in the medical community online at large. Much like the rest of the readers, I was deeply troubled and did not understand the purpose of the article.
My eyes ran across the same paragraph for the fifth — or maybe even sixth — time in the span of 15 minutes. Though I was giving my undivided attention to the paragraph, I could not move past it; I was at a complete loss for how to convey my next point.
I believe in the power of storytelling. As an avid sports fan, I am no stranger to the captivating narrative of athletes.
I gritted my teeth as I stretched my pinky finger across the fretboard of my acoustic guitar, reaching for the last note in a D-sharp chord. My unconditioned hand was cramping from the fourth chord progression that I was trying to learn, and after straining a little bit more, I huffed in exasperation and slammed my tutorial book closed.
Drawing from this discussion of humility, one can see that we are not so different from our patients, which may seem obvious but is too often not embraced. We are all limited; that is the natural order of things.
To be clear, for black medical students, supporting Black Lives Matter and other health equality and social justice initiatives is not a matter of a professional oath. It is a matter of life or death, close or distant — that of a loved one or of a stranger of the same hue and shared struggles.
When I first read that the Northam picture came from a medical school yearbook, I thought about whoever might have been his Black classmates at the time.
I want my residents and attending physicians to be aware of the elements that have so far shaped my medical school experience–a certain racial awareness, if you will–and to be as enthusiastic about teaching me as I am about learning from them.
Being a medical student on clerkships often feels like performing on a stage while wearing a straitjacket. You’re unsure of how your personality and tics might be perceived, and the goal — besides absorbing as much knowledge as possible — is to make a good impression in order to land a good evaluation.
As I sat on the table in the exam room, I quietly smiled to myself at the irony: I had been on the other side of the room the entire year, and, yet, here I was again, back to assuming the role of a patient.
Michael Jordan had established himself as one of the best basketball players early in his career, but it was not until Phil Jackson’s arrival as coach that he won numerous championships … Similar to the role that coaching has in athletics, I believe coaching is crucial throughout medical school, residency and beyond as senior physicians.
As I look into the future, my greatest fears dance with my deepest hopes. I may pine for change even while wishing I could stay exactly where I am. I don’t know what I will do yet.