A medical student, to whom I will refer as X, posted on their social media page they were going to kill themselves. Their letter was direct, raw and, as many suicide notes tend to be, apologetic. They explained they felt they no longer had the strength to keep fighting; it was simply “time for them to go.”
At this very moment, our medical care providers are acting as the heroes we know them to be. They should be celebrated for their steadfast courage and dedication to the community’s safety and wellbeing. Our job as medical students is to support those brave practitioners in the way that most protects their safety and the safety of their patients, which very well could mean (and probably does mean) staying home.
My palms were sweaty as I slid on my blue gloves and boot covers, feeling excited and anxious at the same time. “I’ve delivered hundreds of babies,” Dr. Johnson said. “I think I can give you this one.”
Through the automated doors of the psych hospital, / the man walked / until he reached the front desk.
In the middle, he stood / Between darkness and good / Both selves beckoning him to a side / And in the fight, a small piece of him died
Whenever I go to the hospital, I wear my grandpa’s socks. They looked distinguished on an older man, but a little childish on a me, a 25-year-old medical student. I’m okay with that. Feeling like an overdressed kid on Easter helps to balance the overwhelming pressure of becoming a physician.
On March 4, 2015, JAMA Psychiatry published an article entitled “Depression and Suicide Among Physician Trainees: Recommendations for a National Response” calling for “[a] national commitment to support residents and fellows throughout the challenges of medical training.” However, we believe that the term “physician trainees” should also be inclusive of medical students.
There is another reason wellness is now stressed so heavily in medical schools, and it is one that is not often talked about — physician suicides. As many as 400 physicians commit suicide each year. That is equivalent to four medical school classes who take their lives every single year.
The circumstances under which Jane and I met were less than ideal. That day, I had already seen a family of maggots making a happy living in someone’s foot and been chastised by my attending for failing to recognize the imprecision of my visual acuity in assessing a patient’s ascites — how else could I do so without a measuring tape in my pocket and daily charts of his abdominal circumference?