Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Chief complaint: arm pain,

Waiting in room 4.

As I enter, he looks me up and down —

What is it he’s looking for?


He scoffs as he says,

“No no no,

Get me the real doctor —

One with a long coat.”


I look him in the eye

and with a big smile:

“One will be with you

in a short while.”


I sit there quietly, taking in his story,

Tobacco stains on the corners of his lips,

“Vietnam Vet” and worn-out blue jeans wrapped

loosely around his hips.


Scars and calluses draping his palms,

Shaky hands, and hair white like snow —

A slow southern drawl

that reminds me of home.


We both settle into the visit,

and, at the end, he shakes my hand.

I leave the room feeling

honored to meet this man.


Hospital appointments.

The conversation.


My coat.

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.

Tammy Phillips Tammy Phillips (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Central Florida College of Medicine

Tammy is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, Florida. In 2019, she graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology. After graduating medical school, Tammy will pursue a career in orthopaedic surgery.