When it comes to our younger family members, this means acknowledging their social as well as functional and emotional needs. With this in mind, we should consider three key principles as we focus on the mental health of our younger family members.
Two years of intense studying should have culminated in a feeling of strength. I ended my second year of medical school thinking I was now prepared to do anything. I was excited to be a problem-solver, armed with the mental acuity to recognize diseases from A to Z, ready to proceed with the next step in my clinical training. Now, in my third year, it is finally time to act like a real doctor. But our superiors treat us like their personal assistants.
“Could you please hand Eric the needle driver?” As the scrub tech loaded up that blessed golden tool, I knew that I had just ascended within the realm of surgery.
I commented to the resident how satisfied the attending would be with the efficiency of his work. He just laughed and said “look” as he gestured down to his list of patients. I saw the name, and a sense of dread sank in during the rest of the silent walk down the hall.
Our patients deserve to have their battles acknowledged. That means believing your patients when they implore, “I am trying” and appreciating that we may encounter people at different phases of recovery.
“There’s a great neuro exam in room 5147,” my resident said as I dropped my bag in the call room. “Why don’t you go check it out?” I clutched my reflex hammer in one hand and googled the components of a neuro exam with the other as I headed towards the stairwell.
A hospital bed rolled in. It was Marvin. His last walk. On rounds we would say, “Twenty-two-year-old with gunshot wound to the head. Waiting for organ donation.”
Doing my elective at Klerksdorp-Tshepong (K/T) Hospital Complex in my hometown of Klerksdorp gave me the opportunity to become familiar with the health system, the medical personnel and health-related issues that are prevalent in my community. It also allowed me to draw comparisons between my home country of South Africa and the United Kingdom, where I have undertaken the clinical years of my medical degree.
I proposed a deal to my fellow student on our surgery rotation. “You can have all the other cases today if I get the laryngectomy.”
“We kept him alive to let his family say goodbye, / and sometimes that’s the biggest victory.”
My agitation grew as I realized I needed to do something. I was a medical student training to be a doctor after all, right? Wasn’t I supposed to help alleviate the burdens of others?
Superficial to deep, deep to superficial, / 90 degrees, in and out, / Not too deep, filled with doubt.