You know, going into third year rotations, you are constantly reminded that
this is the year. This is the year when you start practicing medicine. It’s also the year
you join the ranks of jaded healthcare professionals. Like the other students, I
shrugged it off—this would never be a part of me. The residents I’ve worked with
quickly became my idols. I wanted to interact with patients the way they did,
perform physical exams and obtain histories just as effectively. Sure enough, six
months in, I’ve been embroidering these characteristics into my fabric of
Along the way, I’ve been dismayed by acts of physicians and residents alike.
Often clandestine to their patients, these remarks would receive a nod but never a
smile. Vivid in my mind is an attending recounting the history of a patient about to
enter her office. This patient had a history of crying wolf—admitted for suicidality
countless times at the local hospitals. At the end of her description, my dignitary
remarked, “sometimes it would help us all if she actually did it.” Then the patient
was brought in.
I am now more than halfway through my clerkship year. Earlier this week, I
was making my way to the floor to start pre-rounding on my post-op patients. I
wasn’t running late by any means, but yet walking through the cancer ward with a
strut suggesting I was needed somewhere pressing, just like every day on this
surgery rotation. As I neared the end of the corridor lined with rooms of ailing
patients, I caught the glance of a resident bustling on his way out as well.
His pager beeped its familiar tone, catching his attention and divulging an
obscenity. “Must be post call,” I thought as he turned to slam the actuator for the
automatic doors. “Doctor!” I turned to see a petite Asian patient standing outside her
room, hand reaching out to the resident. I turned back to the resident, and again
caught his glance and again watched him turn around and scurry away—this time
shaking his head. I then started to do the same thing. I made eye contact with the
patient, turned away and focused on the silver plate on the wall. One stride in, I
stopped in my tracks. I realized what I had just done. I turned back to my new
patient, and asked her what I could do for her.
After closing her chart leaving a note asking for a medication refill on
discharge, I continued to my surgery ward. Eager to emulate my next idol.
Yashu Damija is a third year medical student at Northeast Ohio Medical University