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.
The dispatcher called in to the emergency department (ED) to alert us that someone had collapsed in the parking lot of the hospital. The emergency medical services swiftly brought the patient in and our team surrounded him, placing lines and drawing blood. In the midst of treating him, I learned that Jones* had just been released from prison where he had remained sober after years of heroin abuse.
At the start of my psychiatry rotation, I was most apprehensive about performing the “bread and butter” exam of the specialty: the psychiatric interview. I was not afraid of forgetting which questions to ask, but rather how to ask said questions.
“This one is a handful. She brought a long list, too, so good luck with that,” the nurse said as she handed me the patient prep sheet. This was a new patient to the family medicine practice. I was seeing her near the end of a long day, so I took a deep breath to reset my mind as I entered the exam room, prepared to listen.
My relaxed reveal / faked a fool / while tanking time / with failing fuel.
Comparison is the enemy / The future seems bleak / Look left, look right
you’re making things worse / rubbing wounds with the salt / from their own sweat
I was the student on the pediatric surgery service consulted to monitor her during her hospital stay — making sure we were ready to intervene if her esophagus ruptured and all that. After admitting her to the floor, we attempted to contact her parents. Mom was somewhere in Illinois, Dad doing I-still-don’t-know-what in Canada, both completely unaware that the life they each helped create was potentially in jeopardy at a Southeast Michigan hospital.
The power and beauty of writing rest in a process of active narrative formation. The act of expression helps us make sense of what happened, integrate this into our sense of self, and clarify our values that will influence our next steps. Conveniently, our expression serves as a record of both identity and narrative formation, giving us a glimpse of ourselves more intimately than we typically take time for.
Instead, I was worried that medicine would consume me only to regurgitate me as a mere collection of cells and systems — just like those I would be expected to regurgitate on the test. I was worried that the demands of knowing it all would make me believe that I could know it all, that there is nothing in the spaces between what we know. I was worried that bathing in science would make me stop believing in art.
I’m 19, I was caught trespassing. / They said I was acting “unusual.” / No reason really.
A classmate of mine committed suicide a few weeks ago. Though I’ve heard the harrowing statistics about physician and trainee suicide rates, to be honest, I never expected to personally encounter such a tragedy. The small classes at my medical school allow for a strong sense of community in which we all know each other, celebrate important life milestones, and happily reconnect when we’re together after clinical rotations scatter us throughout the hospital.