When I was growing up, I used to love a particular series of video games called Trauma Center. In 2010, they released a version called Trauma Team where you got to play as various medical specialists, one of whom was simply considered a “Diagnostician.” Dr. Gabriel Cunningham’s “cases” were some of the most challenging because you were presented with an array of symptoms, imaging, and lab work and started ruling in or ruling out diagnoses until you got the right answer.
My attention swung back and forth between my mom, my screen and the pairs of eyes periodically peering into the hospital room. I focused on the next question on my screen. Another patient had expired as if they were a carton of milk left too long in the fridge.
In my high school years, I had an English teacher, Mr. Moon, who once remarked that his dream would be to “write a paper” about a certain book we were reading, and publish it somewhere. “Write a paper”? Was he kidding? In his free time, he was going to write?
During my Step 1 dedicated study period, I remember looking at these visual comparisons of an early version of First Aid and the most recent edition and feeling righteous indignation bubble up inside me. The former was thin and worn and tattered while the latter was thick, hefty, solid. Hundreds of pages longer, the newest edition felt impenetrable and impossible to commit to memory, expanding yearly with new minutiae to scrutinize.
The hospital room is / fair, square, sterile — / by its vapid / medical posters / and lusterless hospital tools.
Ruchica Chandnani, Class of 2024 at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, contributes this poem as an in-Training writer and current managing editor of the publication since 2021.
2020 was a tough year for all of us (and 2021, and 2022…), but it brought me closer to the medical humanities. The pandemic was the reason that I began to write.
To fully capture the breadth of medical humanities is simply not possible. In fact, it is all too easy for the medical community to lack an appreciation for all of the ways that the humanities not only complement, but enhance medicine. Medicine — a field so biological and chemical — is often associated with far more rigidity than where the humanities permits the mind to go.
Studies have shown that physicians with exposure and background in the humanities are more empathetic, ethical, expressive and even healthier. Recently, medical school curricula across the country have begun to emphasize communication, teamwork, problem solving and humanistic care, as the dichotomous view of the sciences as a separate entity from art and literature is becoming obsolete.
On a search for / assurance, / I was sat across / the Intrepid
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 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.