The Doctor I Don’t Want to Be

Post by Jensyn Cone
USC School of Medicine Greenville requires all first-year medical students complete a 200-hour Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification course and serve as practicing EMTs during medical school.

“Doctors think we’re idiots.”

The paramedic turned to look in my eyes as he said that. It was 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I was lounging in a deserted fire station with two medics waiting for our next call. The conversation had turned to how doctors view medics’ capabilities. That statement took me aback. It made me think, will the day come when I, too, take for granted the decades of experience, tireless work, and gracious kindness medics treat my patients with? I hope not.

That simple sentence carried enormous impact. Changed my thinking process.

I don’t want to be that doctor. I don’t want to have an authority complex.

After experiencing EMT training, I understand why USC School of Medicine Greenville requires it. It’s first-hand proof that doctors can’t do it all. Medicine leaves no room for doctors to flaunt education, ability, or income in other healthcare workers’ faces. What it does leave room for is professionals of all types uniting, using their unique abilities to achieve a common goal: saving some lives and making others better.

Many of my classmates have mentioned how EMT training has shaped their thinking process, how it gave them a broader view of medicine and a unique respect for the myriad of medical professionals who support doctors. We all agree these professionals aren’t inferior.

Can doctors insert IVs into dehydrated patients in the back of a rig flying down the interstate at 60 mph? Could a plastic surgeon save a cardiac arrest victim with blatant confidence?

EMT training has taught me that we need all types of medical professionals to succeed and keep our patients healthy.

I believe this kind of paradigm shift—exposing students not just to many different types of doctoring, but to many different types of medical professionals—is one of the most wonderful things about USC School of Medicine Greenville.

Our medical school doesn’t just want to make us technically skilled, violently brilliant, culturally literate, superb communicators. Sure, they want us to be those things. But, just as important, they want to instill in us the humility to realize that no matter how excellent we are, we desperately need help. Hospitals cannot function without laundry. They cannot function without a kitchen. They cannot function without nurse assistants. As such, I believe USC School of Medicine Greenville wants us to know that these people are all critical to the greater healthcare team. And recognizing and respecting the roles of all healthcare team members will make us better doctors.

As I think back to that late night in the fire station, I understand the true meaning of the medic’s statement, “Doctors think we’re idiots.” Hidden beneath his words was this plea:

“Jensyn, when you’re a doctor, don’t be like that.”