On Training


NaBloPoMo 2016, Letters to Patients, Day 1

To The Patients Who Trained Me:

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and God bless you, every one.

To the elderly lady with heart failure, who donated your body to science so that I may learn anatomy:  You were the greatest gift.  Your heart was literally as big as your head, and at the time I just thought it was peculiar.  Now I understand the extraordinary adaptive capability of the human body, and I marvel at it every day.

To the inpatients who endured hours of repetitive interviewing and clumsy physical exams by us medical students, all in the name of teaching:  Your engagement in the midst of your own suffering testifies to the infinite potential generosity of humanity.  Your contribution to medical education cannot be overestimated.

To the kindhearted artist in my resident clinic, the first patient to page me for advice:  You showed me that I knew what I was doing, even in training.  You had classic of sinusitis, and I called in the appropriate prescription.  In a moment of sudden panic I wondered if I should have called my preceptor first.  No, I can do this, I realized.  I’m meant to do this.

To the articulate, confident housewife whose retired husband drove you to me in acute agitation:  I learned from you that life phases never cease to evolve.  Our relationships, however longstanding, hold infinite complexities that manifest in jarring and also predictable ways throughout life.  You taught me that stability is overrated, and also underappreciated.

To the wonderfully kind man, one of my first patients in practice, who came in with the nasal balloon:  Your patience and trust will humble me forever.  The emergency room doctor had placed the balloon for a prolonged nosebleed.  He instructed you have me take it out.  I had never seen such a device before, much less deflated and removed one.  You let me examine it, think it through, and finally just cut the tubing with scissors.  We bonded over that and you continued to teach me about collaboration and sharing between patient and physician all the while I knew you.

To all whom I encountered in those early years:  There are too many of you to name, too many to acknowledge fully.  But every one of you helped make me the physician I am today.  With each new meeting now, each applied principle and physical exam technique, I thank you and honor you, my esteemed teachers.

10 thoughts on “On Training

  1. What a wonderful post to wake up too! To be appreciative to all those who have taught us, wow, even those who give us difficulties. Thank you for that paradigm shift!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t thought of myself as a teaching ground for students training to be doctors. I will try to remember this the next time they pull a bunch of youngsters in to look at something they’ve never seen before! (One time, it was scabies and after looking at me for a few minutes, the doctor came back, pulling on gloves, trailed by two younger physicians.) he showed them how to tell by turning off lights and shining a flashlight at the skin affected. I never figured out what that showed, but the students were suitably impressed.)

    Liked by 1 person

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