Third-year Introspection

At this point it’s been about five months since my class began our third year of medical school. For many of us, it’s been a crazy five months. We’ve been a part of cardiac resuscitations, we’ve been the first person on our team to evaluate a life-threatening condition in the ER, we’ve held the hand of patients about to die, we’ve cried with patients whose lives and families are falling apart because of their illness, and the list goes on. Even though we don’t have much clinical experience or authority, we are learning, and in the process our lives have intersected the lives of our patients at some of their most vulnerable moments. It is an immense privilege, and one that we do not take lightly.

In the midst of all of that, I’ve realized that we have now joined one of the most prayed-for groups of people.

Let me explain.

Whether you consider yourself a person of faith or not, you’ve probably heard a friend or family member ask for prayers or “good vibes” as they prepare for a surgery, or as they await news of an important lab test that will affect their health. I’ve seen posts on Facebook asking for health-related prayers, and I’ve seen bumper stickers and t-shirts emblazoned with “prayers for so-and-so”, who is battling cancer. For many people, it seems, health and faith are intertwined.

As healthcare providers, we find ourselves often being prayed for in the same way. Many people whom we have never met are praying for the wisdom of the doctors taking care of their loved one, for the hands of the surgeons who are removing the cancer, and for the discernment of the physicians who are brainstorming the best treatment options. As many times as I have prayed these types of prayers, it was only recently that I suddenly realized that I am now one of the people being prayed for. As I collaborate with my team of residents and attending physicians to determine how to best care for a patient, and as I scrub in to many surgeries and reach inside the bodies of many patients with life-threatening cancer, it is suddenly my brain and my hands that are being prayed for.


In the midst of scurrying around during this third year of medical school and trying to learn as much as I can, it is both encouraging and sobering to remember the great responsibility of this profession that is becoming so real each day.


Rachel Donaldson

Rachel Nelson

I’m originally from Brentwood, Tennessee, and I came to South Carolina to attend college at Furman University where I was a music major, outdoor enthusiast and lover of life. I never expected to spend four more years here in Greenville, but I could not be more excited to have the opportunity to stay and be a part of this incredible program at the USC School of Medicine in Greenville! I hope that through this blog you will be able to see, as I did, a glimpse of the inspiring vision and stunning reality of this medical school, and that you will share in our innovative and hands-on journey to becoming tomorrow’s doctors.

Jean Petrizzo