I wish it were different —
Dying patients, struggling hospitals, overworked health care workers,
topsy-turvy economies, politicized safety precautions, and the
or success with social distancing.
New guidelines from the CDC,
or permission to see family and friends in person.
The violent death of George Floyd, preceded by those of
thousands of others.
Opening our eyes, which have intentionally looked
the other way
since the age of slavery to police brutality.
Systemic racism: a driver of the damage and hurt that it has
uniquely caused our Black community.
And its penetration into the soul of our industries, health care systems,
of redlining, or the dramatic
disparities in maternal mortality.
A pandemic and tragic, racism-
induced deaths — causing us to redefine what normal should look like.
Both physical changes, like social distancing guidelines
and work-from-home orders,
and emotional ones such as mitigating the health care access gap for Black populations.
What should our new communities prioritize? What should our health care systems do to create an equitable network?
Our medical school acceptance and enrollment — such an exciting and special moment —
Learning about an online transition.
Should I take a gap year?
Clinics turned to Zoom demonstrations, orientation potlucks turned to microwave single-serve meals at home.
Not the same training as thousands of colleagues before us. Will it be enough?
When will putting on that white coat lead to mentored patient encounters? Face-to-face conversations? In-person problem-solving?
Hoping for a routine, and yet
recognizing that returning to normal is not the outcome.
The process of bettering our health systems starts with us new trainees being actively anti-racist.
It starts with us educating ourselves
on pandemic legislation and the emergence of telehealth.
Recognizing the beaming opportunity and promise in this moment for us is difficult.
But it exists.
There are unique benefits to starting now:
Getting to train amidst a real-life case study of the value of medicine;
Seeing issues first-hand in our hospital networks that we will now have the agency to change.
The gravity of this moment is taxing, and the ambiguity is unsettling as a student.
We do not want to burden our mentors,
as their management of patients right now is the priority.
We just want to do this massive
Justice will be to one day do right by our patients.
whatever it takes —
the online start,
the social distancing,
the social justice training,
the privilege checks —
that’s what we will do.
Entering medicine is an honor. A pandemic will not undermine this honor.
Here we are! The next generation of medicine, rising out of the rubble.
Ready to learn and build a brighter medical system.
Image credit: I001138 (CC BY 2.0) by DFAT photo library
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.