I used to daydream that my first patient as a medical student would be a happy, reasonably healthy elderly woman.
The opportunity to be immersed in learning the stories behind the health of patients is one of the things that drew me to medicine, and, indeed, it still intrigues me. More importantly, I was (and still am) intrigued by the opportunity and challenge of using the multiple streams of information patients present with to make functional improvements in their lives.
In medicine, as in medical training, time is the enemy. There is not enough time to talk to patients or study for board exams. There is not enough time to read the latest literature. At the end of the day, there is not enough time to make plans with friends or develop a gym routine that is anything but sporadic.
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.
I did not know I was feeling sadness until I found it hard to swallow. There is no reason for it, I thought. At 94, she is still sharp, most of the time.
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.
His fiancée calls him “The Storyteller.” We sit down outside a cafe during a warm August evening. Still clad in his hospital scrubs, he just finished a shift as a pulmonary/critical care fellow at Rhode Island Hospital.
I’ve heard this before, / This insidious pain you describe, / That grinds and gnaws / Diffusely below the stomach
At 7:21 p.m., I arrive at the hospital for the first overnight shift of my medical career. It’s not a great start — the bus was late, and I didn’t sleep nearly enough this afternoon in preparation for the night ahead.
I come from a family of repeaters. We repeat the questions that had unsatisfactory answers, the jokes that got particularly good receptions, the requests willfully ignored, but most of all, we repeat the stories.
How can doctors-in-training incorporate wisdom from spiritual traditions into the delivery of health care? Rembrandt, a second-year medical student in Chicago, shares his exploration of how lessons from Christianity offer him insight into life’s big questions that arise in medicine.
“Look, you’re not out on a four-year picnic at that medical school, so stop talking like a disappointed lover. You signed up for a spell of training and they’re dishing it out to you, and all you can do is take everything they’ve got, everything they hand to you, and tell yourself how lucky you are to be on the receiving end — so you can be a doctor, and that’s no bad price to pay for the worry, the exhaustion.”