My eyes locked on the upside-down words scribbled on the paper that was torn from my preceptor’s notebook a few moments prior. Dear God, my patient wrote, I am grateful for this life.
The gentle breeze of the summer evening embraces my hometown of Suwon, Korea. Holding my hand, my grandma takes small, deliberate steps forward. Two months into my fourth year of medical school, I am back home for a short break before beginning the residency application process.
he sits on the edge of the bed, forlorn – / eyes squeezed shut, back hunched over. / the veins snaking up his arms seem / translucent as he clenches the bed rail / in a death grip.
As a future physician, this experience reminded me to remain empathetic, compassionate and unbiased in all aspects of patient care. By doing so, I can not only improve trust and connection with my patients but also ensure that my clinical judgment remains clear.
Most of all though, I tried to calm my racing mind and remind myself to just learn. And with that, I wondered, “What is the most important thing I can do today?”
In disease and in health, our bodies tell stories. But more often than not, these stories are left unheard and unseen. A meaningful method for illuminating untold stories is through traditional/classical dance forms. Dance especially is a space for knowledge and roles to be authentically represented. For marginalized communities in particular, traditional dance has for centuries been a medium for creative expression and healing despite how circumstances and society have complicated their access to care.
As I completed my residency interviews, I recognized that we are hard pressed to find a better way to match burgeoning physicians with training programs searching for their next class of interns. Yet I also knew that neither I nor any other applicant could fit into a preconceived box or several sentence summary. I could not simply market myself as a humanist or an artist, or an activist or a researcher.
Because I could not stop for death, / He kindly asked I pause. / My arms were full of sterile wraps, / Scissors, tape, and gauze.
Upon reflection, my actions and feelings in caring for this patient reveal how truly afraid I was to be wrong; not necessarily about the diagnosis, but rather about whether the patient would be okay. Maybe coming in daily and opening her chart for good news was just me hoping that my initial impression was still right instead of coming to terms with the fact I was very wrong.
She asks me if I can speak Spanish, to which I regrettably deny, stating I can understand it well, but my ability to communicate in my mother tongue is lacking. Her eyes catch my sight, this time not projecting annoyance, but now disappointment, with her head shaking and her uttering, “That is an absolute shame. You should know how to speak Spanish. You are Hispanic and do not know Spanish? What a shame.”
Do you hear what I hear? / The humming of machines, / which can’t breathe, / but enable artificial ventilation for living beings.
Dance has always been a medium for me to express my emotions. It makes me feel alive and helps me process my experiences, including that with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome has been described as feelings of self-doubt, especially in high achieving people