You were worried the year would be difficult, you didn’t know how to live months on end without seeing or hugging family and didn’t know how you would meet and talk to 230 people in your class (and no, you still haven’t, but at least you might know 70%).
I hope my classmates, communities, and I all dance far more often with health than sickness. I pray that soon the last hospital bed holds the last patient with COVID. I hope justice and truth prevail. I hope we hold onto what we carry: the love of friends and family, a resilience tried and true, bravery unbridled and faith that we will persevere among the challenges life affords. I hope that after long days of caring for others, we care for ourselves and call a friend, a loved one, a therapist — and remember how far we’ve come. We have been patients, and we will be patients, even as we care for patients.
It is the day before the first anatomy lab for the first-year medical students, and a single professor walks alone, up and down rows of tables laden with 26 naked, embalmed bodies. He silently shares a few minutes with the donors, a private thank-you. Soon the donors will be covered in white sheets, and the students will tentatively spill through the locked wooden doors of the labs, a rush of anticipation, teamwork, questions and learning.
None of us pictured beginning medical school in a pandemic. Most of us are still in shock we were admitted to medical school owing to severe imposter syndrome. Despite the exceedingly virtual nature of the fall semester — as of now, our only in-person activities are optional anatomy labs — we have hitherto made the most of this experience. Undeterred by the inability to partake in many in-person activities as a class, we are fostering meaningful relationships with our peers online and in person.
“So, how would we test for PBC?” my professor asks from the front of the room.
It’s okay to feel in the cadaver lab. It’s what your first patient wanted for you.
As a medical student, I have big shoes to fill. I feel that void in my foot-space at all times. These shoes are expensive, and they are monstrously huge. We’re talking circus clown, Shaquille O’Neal, Andre the Giant shoes.