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A Medical Student’s Thank You

At the fundamental core of what the upcoming holiday is intended to represent, beyond the shopping and the impossibly large set of dinner plates in front of us, is the idea of gratitude. In the often busy lives of medical students, it is easy to let this holiday merely be a break from the endless studying, a time to catch up on all the lectures you have let slip through the cracks, a time to spend home with your family and long-ignored friends or a time to catch up on that ever-elusive sleep. If we truly take the time to stop and reflect, medical students have many things to be thankful for. But, as Tacitus said, “Men are more likely to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and vengeance a pleasure.” Thus, let us take this time, as one community, to unburden ourselves.

Family: We know it’s not easy being the family of a medical student. Oftentimes, we don’t return your calls for days, or don’t speak to you for weeks. Our exam schedules or far-away rotations often cause us to miss important functions in your lives, and yet, you never stop loving us. Whether it is following up on that call we didn’t pick up just to say that you were thinking of us, sending us that care package with junk food during finals week or being okay with us sleeping all day when we come home to visit, know that our faults and your support do not go unnoticed. To you, our family, we thank you.

Significant others: Medical school is one of the hardest strains on relationships. To those that have been with us for years before this behemoth took over our lives, you may think that we are a completely different person. Those of you just entering a relationship with us may question our intentions or our commitment. You have to deal with us often going to different cities every few weeks while we are on rotations, spending nearly a year or two apart or far away. We spend what may seem as days at a time literally living in a corner at a library or a local coffee shop, only to come home with flashcards or too exhausted to carry a decent conversation. When we are together we talk the detailed mechanism of an action potential and may not always be there to go out with you in the evenings. Yet despite this you listen to our rants, bake cookies for our study groups and give us massages after a long day at work. While through these four years we may not be the best boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, we appreciate everything you put up with. To you, our significant others, we thank you.

Old friends: When we were in high school, college or working, we were inseparable. We spent the evenings tackling the city, or entire days binging Netflix. Our war stories are endless, and yet, despite how close we were since we entered medical school, it may seem like we hardly speak. It may be weeks before we talk, and we may only actually spend time catching up on holidays. We may bail on social gatherings and respond shortly to your texts and e-mails. Despite all of this, you never hold it against us when we do reach out to you, and when we finally get a chance to talk, our friendship seems like it has always been like it was before. Sometimes, you force us to come out with you despite all of our objections, because you recognize we need a break when we are in denial. To you, our oldest and dearest friends, we thank you.

Nurses: Each morning, and numerous times throughout the day, you deal with us coming to you and asking what happened with our patients. Even though you already went through it with the interns and residents, you patiently answer all of our questions. When we don’t know where a specific room is, a piece of paperwork is located or need a certain supply to change a dressing, you take time out of your many responsibilities to aid us. Despite the half a dozen or more patients you manage, the mountain of paperwork you have to do and the long hours you work, you take the time to show us how to start an IV — and not laugh at us when we fumble. To you, the nurses, we thank you.

Interns and residents: You are our closest allies when we are working in the hospital. Despite the list of 20-plus patients you have to take care of, you take the time to explain to us the basic pathophysiology of a disease or the management of a patient. When we are a deer in headlights because an attending asked us a question we don’t know the answer to, you mouth the response to us without anyone seeing. Before rounds in the morning, you help us develop a plan and walk through justifications, and urge us to present it to the attending so we can appear knowledgeable about our patients. You get excited about sharing unique cases with us and are patient with us when we are conducting an exam or gathering a history. You make it a point to sneak time in the day for us to get lunch, or to send us home after a specifically tough day. To you, the interns and residents, we thank you.

Attendings and professors: Everything that we become and learn ultimately is because of you. Even though it would take you two minutes to finish sewing a wound, you walk us through and wait while it takes us 10 minutes to put in five sutures. You take the time to ask us questions during rounds, and are willing to give us answers or listen to our researched responses when we don’t know the answer to them. You take time out of your clinical practice to come to our schools and give us lectures, and tolerate our class when a majority of students don’t show up because they are watching it on the computer from home. When we send you e-mails asking for research opportunities, career advice or just an explanation about something you taught us, you quickly respond to our concerns and questions. To you, our attendings and professors, we thank you.

Patients: It is never fun being sick and when you are in the hospital you oftentimes are going through very difficult situations. Despite this, you, with complete pun intended, patiently are open to us asking an endless list of questions you already answered an endless number of times for the sake of our learning. Even though the doctors already examined you, or are going to be examining you again, you tolerate us listening to your heart and lungs, examining your wound or going through intimate parts of a physical exam. Without you, we wouldn’t have an education. To you, every patient that ever interacted with a medical student, we thank you.

Scrub techs: Every few weeks, you deal with a whole new batch of clueless medical students — yet our ignorance never annoys you. You detail to us every step of staying sterile and when we inevitably accidentally touch our face masks, you get a new pair of gloves and help us put them on without our professors seeing, with only a wink as an acknowledgement to how much you’ve helped us. You hand us a pair of pickups and needle drivers when nobody is looking so we can practice our suturing. To you, the scrub techs, we thank you.

Our classmates: Medical school isn’t easy. It drives many of us to the brink of insanity and can be an alienating and lonely time. Despite this, we are all in this together. You listen to us explain in great detail our new study technique, caffeine addiction and sleep schedule. You share in our joy when we succeed and console us when we are 100 percent sure we got a zero percent on that test. You simultaneously learn with us, allow us to teach and teach us in turn. To you, our fellow classmates, we thank you.

Joe Ladowski Joe Ladowski (4 Posts)

Consulting Editor, Former Editor-in-Chief (2015-2017) and Former Medical Student Editor (2014-2015)

University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine

Hi everyone! My name is Joe Ladowski and I am a MSTP (MD/PhD) student at University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine. I am originally from Fort Wayne, IN I attended undergraduate at the University of Chicago and graduated in 2012 with a degree in Biological Sciences with a Specialization in Endocrinology. While at the UofC I was an active member of the school's rugby team, a volunteer with Global Brigades, and spent my free electives taking courses in Medical Ethics. Right now I'm leaning towards a career in surgery, possibly transplant surgery. My research focuses on xenotransplantation, genetically modifying pigs for human transplant. Aside from the normal medical student stuff I'm interested in the ethics of organ allocation and the policy behind the current laws. I love reading all sorts of books and would love to teach someday. I was also actively involved in my school's medical spanish, medical ethics, and medical student book clubs.

Vikas Bhatt Vikas Bhatt (3 Posts)

Former Editor-in-Chief (2016) and Former Medical Student Editor (2014-2015)

Drexel University College of Medicine

Vikas is a Class of 2017 medical student at Drexel University College of Medicine. He joined in-Training in 2014 as a medical student editor and served as the Editor-in-Chief and a writer's-in-training mentor. Vikas' interests include public health and advocacy.