I’ve been contributing to this blog for a few years now, and every entry seems to eventually come around to this one idea: how much I love being a medical student and how much deeper that feeling is each time I reflect upon it. My class’s 3rd year of medical school started in May 2017. In that month alone, I saw more patients than I had ever seen before, at least ten-fold. As suggested by an upperclassman, I kept a shorthand diary on patients who struck me academically, emotionally, or humorously. The joy of first learning inevitably fades with time, and this diary is my reminder.
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I feel immensely fortunate to be a student at USCSOMG. I have been placed in the company of people who care about the doctor that I become in the realm of my skills, knowledge and most importantly my humanity. I imagine after years of practice, it is easy to reduce a patient to their illness; stripping them of humanity, lessening them to a collection of symptoms. I am encouraged that this practice has been discouraged since my arrival here 10 short months ago. In our gross anatomy lab, the kind, selfless people who gave their bodies as tools of teaching are called, “Donors”. Annually, there is a Donor Ceremony in their honor. In their tribute, I penned a poem.
I grew up in a small town in South Carolina where everybody knew everybody. People I’d never spoken to knew my entire life story, and I knew the drama about their mama’s sister’s cousin. No matter where I was, I was surrounded by people who knew me. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. When I was in a car wreck, people stopped left and right to lend a hand. When I was out on a date, people were also there to call my mama and make sure she knew every detail. It was a small, tight-knit community, and it gave off the sense of family. We were there for each other, in all things. We knew who was sick, who had just received a difficult diagnosis, or who had a relative in the hospital. It was all common knowledge. It was just what we did.
An open thank you from a medical student to nursing staff (everywhere):
When I started as a nursing assistant, I had three goals: gaining clinical experience, seeing what doctors do on a day-to-day basis, and paying rent. While I did gain invaluable clinical experience, the revelation I had would shape me as a physician forever: nurses run the world. More specifically, nurses run the hospital floor. I very rarely had interactions with the physicians, but the knowledge that I gleaned from my nursing staff has benefited me as a medical student and I am confident that it will help me in the future as a physician.
Medicine is my dream. It puts you to the test, figuratively and literally. Being able to be in its presence is something that is earned and fought for. It’s like Mt. Everest- a long treacherous hike, full of obstacles, to get to the reward at the top. Medicine is not easy.
Here, at the end of didactic education, how do you say goodbye to the room you have spent every day of the last two years in?
The room where you learned to do a cardiac exam, where you had your inevitable final exam meltdowns, where you celebrated good test grades, and where you studied late nights and early mornings. The room that introduced you to the people who are now family.
On April 8, 2017, Greenville Health System hosted the 11th Annual Minority Health Summit (now known as the Community Health Summit). The Summit is a yearly health education initiative held during National Minority Health Awareness Month. The Summit’s purpose is “to educate and increase awareness of major health disparities that disproportionately affect the lives of minorities in our community.” This special day featured keynote speaker Tajh Boyd, healthy lifestyle presentations, health-risk assessments, physician-led talks on diabetes and mental health, and powerful survivor stories and testimonials. I had the privilege of attending the event and got to meet and share stories with people aged 12-100 (seriously, I took a 100-year-old woman’s blood pressure, and it was better than mine!).
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To Dean Douglas: medic, instructor, volunteer, father, husband and friend. With so many commemorating your extraordinary life in service, one can’t help but think of the countless times you honored those who went before you with the bagpipes you played so well.
Two years ago, when my medical school class gathered to honor those who had donated their bodies for our learning, you agreed to play for our procession. You said you were honored to watch us pay tribute with our music, our words, and our art. So today I use my words to pay tribute to you.
Before fourth-year student Jeremiah White ever started medical school, he wrote this post about the moment he knew he wanted to be a doctor. Fast forward four years later and Jeremiah is about to become a physician, and he recently found out his residency placement in emergency medicine. Read below about his emotions on Match Day and his thoughts about his future as a doctor: