More than a month into full time clinical medicine. Big privilege to witness the life-time events in the lives of patients. Getting news that you will not live through the next week. Hear that the sickness that stopped you from finding joy in arts or seeing your friends will probably be with you throughout your lifetime. Being the partner to this patient, knowing she was the most outgoing person you have ever met. Getting news that your disabling disease is psychological in nature.
I perceived these moments as deeply moving and utmost human. They are evidence to what medicine is about.
This post could end here, and for me, it should.
there’s a second side to this experience. It is these human moments that many doc’s work for, for the better of their patients. Meanwhile, you stop seeing your own family. You cannot attend that dinner party because you have to finish an admission letter or fill in the two-page long prescriptions list into the computer. Sports and lengthy cooking are luxury when you come home after 10 hours of work driving home for an hour because you’ve got your rotation placement in another town, and all you want to do is rest and sit on the couch. You become tired. inconsiderate to colleagues. In the middle of high stress on the job, just having called for 20 minutes to correct a mistake you filled out on a scan order, you flip at a patient. You react tired and negatively to the request of a nurse.
You realize, after having followed this long path of education and early career that you ended up in a terrible position. With the very best intentions on the way, idealizing, generally being loving and warm, you realize that you became a person you don’t want to be. One you would disgust and turn away from.
To be clear, I’m not in this situation (yet). I believe that the academic work I’m doing will make it possible to evade some of the bad things.
Medicine has markedly improved. The health care that is provided today, having its flaws, makes our society possible. It makes you drink your favorite wine or loving that wife of yours twice as long as your great-grandfather did.
But: what are we doing to our doctors, while they aspire the best?