Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To Become a Healer

I've been reading for almost an hour now, after finishing my last blog-vomit post about how packed my day has been. And now, it seems so trivial to have been focusing on how "packed" the day of a med student can sometimes be. Like I said, I've been reading the required readings for my "Introduction to the Patient-Physician Relationship" class. Some of the readings (seven total) were nothing new, but some were refreshing and engaging!

My favorites were these:

Yale Medical School Graduation Address 2010 by Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP

Discovering the 'Heart of Care' by Frank D. Gabrin, DO

18 Stethoscopes, 1 Heart Murmur and Many Missed Connections by Madeline Drexler

When I first sat down to read, not knowing what the readings were about, I remember actively thinking to myself, "This is so a waste of my time right now. I should be sleeping. Or studying Anatomy."

I had to force myself to read, much as you might have to force yourself. After I started reading these three articles, though, I had to force myself to stop reading just so I could blow my nose or rub my bleary eyes. I was engaged. I was hooked. I was reading things that really brought me back to the reason that I want to be a medical student doctor.

These articles were worth my time, even as exhausted and crusty-eyed and snot-nosed as I am at 1:00am after an 18-hour day. I'd highly recommend reading them, even if you're not interested in becoming a doctor. Do you know someone who is a doctor or healthcare worker? Do you have a doctor that you visit with any regularity? If you want a glimpse into their life, if you want to know a little of what it means (or should mean) to be a doctor, then read these articles. They probably won't change your life, they probably won't transport you to another realm of comprehension of and unity with your physician - but I guarantee you won't regret reading.

As I read these stories, I couldn't help but have images flash through my mind of the various (and relatively limited) experiences I've had in healthcare so far. From wheeling patients through the emergency room corridors as a volunteer, to asking the nurses if there was anything I could help them do, to helping a doctor insert a catheter on an elderly woman with dementia, to speaking with the wife of a heart attack patient, to my simulated patient interviews and the distinct reversal of roles I've only just begun to experience, I find myself realizing that I really want to be the kind of doctor that Madeline Drexler said that the medical student Ben was destined to become.

One of my fellow classmates said something to me a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still not quite sure what spurred the comment. We were in Anatomy lab, and as we we were working on something, identifying several objectives on a body, a couple of other students came over to ask us a question. I ended up going over to show them where the structure was on their body. When I got back, the student I had been working with said, "Justin, I think you're going to become a great doctor - maybe even one of the greatest." Caught completely off guard, I couldn't think of anything to say other than to chuckle, "Heheh... Why do you say that??" She replied, "Because you actually care about people."

I want to be that kind of doctor. The kind that helps other people stay positive if at all possible, and that helps them through when it's not. I want to be the kind of doctor whose intrinsic nature inspires trust in his patients. As Dr. Gabrin would put it, I want to not only cure, I want to care. I want to be one of the doctors whose figurative forehead-mounted neon sign flashes, "I care." In short, yes, I want to become a doctor - but even more so, I want to become a healer.


Susan said...

This is really awesome....

Rodney said...

If it's apparent to your fellow students, it will be apparent to your patients. The tough thing is, not all your patients will care about themselves - knowing you can help someone if they will only do their part can be very frustrating when they don't hold up their end of the deal. That will be a tough lesson to learn - because you care and want to help. No doubt, you'll excel.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite posts of yours so far. Thank you for sharing these readings, I enjoyed every one of them and they remind me why I want to become a doctor.

Cara said...

Thanks for sharing those articles. You said it perfectly-not only do you want to be a doctor, you want to be a healer as well! Many students seem to forget that early on but I'm glad you mentioned it in this post.

All the best to you.

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