Twenty years later, I still brace myself for the mispronunciation, even if I introduce myself first and enunciate clearly. Sometimes I give up and allow the mispronunciation to continue because I feel uncomfortable correcting them repeatedly. But I shouldn’t have to. My name is my name and should not be explored, like finding synonyms in a thesaurus.
My eyes have adjusted. Faint streaks of light from the edges of my window illuminate the darkness of my room. I toss onto my side and my gaze drifts to the shadows on the wall. I make shapes out of them, like making shapes out of passing clouds.
Much like the development of a butterfly, the journey through medicine is an exquisite metamorphosis. As a fourth-year student looking back at the past four years, I remain grateful to those who helped pave the path for me to grow into what will soon be a physician.
Growing up, I wanted to be an actress. It amazed me how actors could make a story seem so real and how easily I would fall in love with characters I’d known for only 90 minutes. Most of the kids in my neighborhood would play outside together, but I always wanted to stay home and watch my favorite movie, Shutter Island.
Endless alarms, coffee to-go, Adidas tennis shoes toe to toe./Password guesses, ID scans, room by room – endless lands.
I was assigned to complete my family medicine clerkship at Sanitas Medical Center, a primary and urgent care site in Miami, Florida that serves a large and diverse population. Most patients are elderly, Spanish speaking immigrants from Latin American countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia.
I had never truly scrubbed into an OR before, and I was incredibly terrified on my first day of general surgery. So I was skeptical when the scrub tech said, “Congratulations on getting here.” Yet somehow, against all odds, something clicked. Within the bright, sterile, cold OR, “Can’t get you off my mind,” rang out.
I realized that in my approach, she saw echoes of her abuser and an imbalance of power. I made sure to sit down in the chair next to her, eye level, to show her I was here to listen. No longer did I need my stethoscope. I had my most powerful tool of all, my listening skills.
When I followed up our conversation by offering a hug, I felt the full release of her sorrow in our embrace. It was as if recognition of her heartbreak gave her permission to express her devastation and fear in a moment of sudden tragedy.
During my family medicine rotation, I experienced one of my most memorable patient encounters. Accompanied by her daughter, my patient came for her annual physical with her primary care physician. Approaching them with a mixture of anticipation and nervousness , I couldn’t help but notice the genuine happiness radiating from both of them.
Despite ongoing efforts and changing perspectives, gender equity in surgical specialties has not yet been achieved and is not simply a problem of the past. Only in addressing deep-seated gender roles and actively creating opportunities for the representation of women and gender-diverse persons in surgery can surgeons in Canada accurately reflect the populations they serve.
As a medical student, I have found that one of the biggest challenges during my journey through the many clinical experiences is the ability to truly immerse myself in my patients’ stories and attempt to place myself in their shoes when thoughts of other clinical and academic responsibilities were constantly hovering over my head.