Training to become a physician is not only about acquiring knowledge, but also learning to impart that knowledge upon others–most importantly, our patients. But, in this process of knowledge transfer, is it possible that the information we deliver becomes akin merely to the terms and conditions of a software agreement, the obligatory pop-up hastily scrolled through and accepted by the user–in this case, the patient?
On my first day volunteering in the hospital, my task is to observe Steven, a more experienced volunteer, as he visits with patients. We begin by meeting Amanda, the first patient on our list.
I had not yet guided a ‘goals of care’ discussion. This is the discussion that entails understanding a patient’s wishes regarding end of life care, and it is often in the context of determining what advanced medical interventions the patient might want. That day, my short white coat felt shorter, like it was yelling out to everyone I encountered that I had no idea what I was doing.
I was starting my surgery rotation, the second rotation of my third year, on the colorectal service. It was my first 24-hour on-call shift, which meant that my team would be responsible for multiple surgical services overnight.
I will never forget the patient who shocked my preconceived notions about health care.
If you come into the hospital room before she arrives, you might miss the telltale signs of her existence. They are subtle — a soft sweater thrown over a chair for those drafty hospital wards or an absurdly expensive vegetable tray from the café downstairs on the patient’s table.
One thing bothers me: / Books are most of what we see. / Doctor-patient relationship — / Only mentioned in them, flip by flip.
If a provider cannot understand their patient, they are unable to treat them. Likewise, if a patient cannot understand their provider, how can they possibly adhere to their medical advice? “Getting by” is not enough; patients are entitled to someone who speaks their language, no matter how rare.
A glimpse into today’s media is enough to understand the general attitude of modern medicine and health care. While the majority of the population regards scientific progress as a blessing, a not-so-small minority is fearful of how this will negatively impact their health.
For Dr. Francois Luks, the pen is mightier than the sword. Armed with ink and a blank pad of paper, he begins to draw out a stomach. With a stroke here and some shading there, he deftly sketches the anastomoses of a procedural resection.
She and I experienced such extremes of strangerhood and intimacy in only 72 hours. But what a privilege it was, to be there for her when she had no one else, to advocate for her, to go a little (or a lot) above and beyond on her behalf, to see the inter-workings of this stranger’s life: this is why I chose medicine.
It was a Wednesday morning. The air was crisp. The sun graced us with brilliance. I made my way to the emergency room where I was working for a two-week period on the cardiology consult service.