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Donning and Doffing

As you search your closet
For your scrub cap,
And pants,
Search the depths of your closet
And find your old tools.

I know you have them there, somewhere.

Don the eyes of your 18-year-old self
Watching mentors carry love in their oversized pockets,
Healing at solemn bedsides,
And wanting to carry love in your pockets, too.

Don the spirit that was moved to action,
By the haunting realization that, here,
Too often
Without pay,
there is no receiving treatment.

Don the mind that understands
You are working with neighbors, and friends, and siblings,
Not bodies and chief complaints.

Find the heart of the student
Who believed in impossible cures
And transforming health care systems
And don that, too.

While you’re there,
Take the time and
Doff those test-taking shoulders,
Formed from hours of solitude
And reading stereotyped vignettes.
Let them rest.

Doff the anxiety
Of not knowing the answers.
Sometimes you will not know the answers.

But knowing is not enough,
For healing,

So, doff those things.
You won’t need them where you’re going.

I know you are in a rush.
But I ask you,

Take this time.

Don these old tools,
And remember who you are.

Don these old tools,
And you are already ready.

Image credit: “Surgery Room” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by nodigio

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Olivia Veira Olivia Veira (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Emory University School of Medicine

Olivia is a medical student at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, Class of 2026. In 2017, she graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in public health, then went on to complete a Master of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. She enjoys making tea, hiking, and playing with her dog in her free time. After graduating medical school, Olivia would like to pursue a career that centers health justice. She'll figure out the specialty, eventually.