Five more days of my third year of medical school – it couldn’t come sooner. As much as I have learned from and enjoyed something from each clerkship this year, I feel more than ready to move beyond this introductory stage. If nothing else, I will be happy to not have to study for any more NBME “Shelf” exams. Instead, I can focus on each rotation as driven by my self-directed interest and the needs of my patients.
One thing I’ve become acutely aware of in recent days is that I tend to let myself be exposed to the suffering of my patients on medical, emotional, and social levels: I try to engage this suffering and ease it while assisting with their medical care. In other words, on a daily basis, I’m chest-deep in the troubles faced by the poor, the disadvantaged, and the disenfranchised. On the other hand, I also work alongside a privileged class: the highly-trained physicians who direct the medical care of these patients. In the space between, it’s hard not to listen to and sympathize with a wide and disparate variety of opinions and sentiments. And in witnessing the extent and depth of the suffering, it gives me pause whenever I feel I have something to complain about or when I hear others complain.