I often joke about how worthless my Art History studies were, but I never mean it. The truth is that my training in the humanities, while being unconventional for medicine, has prepared me to be a better physician and clinician.
It was 5:00 P.M. on a Thursday and I had just finished my first preceptorship session with my fourth-year medical student preceptor. That afternoon was one of many firsts, as it was also the first time I conducted a patient interview. My first-ever patient was a middle-aged woman in the emergency room talking to me through Zoom. I remember introducing myself nervously, stuttering on the few syllables that make up my name, and then asking what brought her to the hospital. She responded that she had COPD and was in a great deal of distress. When I asked her to further describe how she felt, she responded that she felt like she couldn’t breathe. She started describing how hard it was to go up the stairs or go to her daughter’s house.