After I totally said I wouldn’t copy + paste from a Patient-Centered Care class assignment.
It’s basically a reminiscing over the past near-two years, what’s happened, how I’ve changed… it seems a bit early for this, seeing as we’ve still got another 4+ weeks of class to go, but now with all this comprehensive exam studying… makes you think a bit.
When looking back on an entire two years of full-time study, the most obvious thing to point out is the massive amount of knowledge I must now cram into my skull cap before the end of May. Cue panic.
But the interesting story is not how much smarter I’ve (supposedly) become, but rather what’s gone on under the surface. How my worldview has changed. How I understand patients and the illness experience. How many of my classmates post those TMI moments to Facebook.
Well, maybe not that.
But in all seriousness (is that possible for me?), my views really have shifted, especially on some of those deep-seated prejudices and views that come with being brought up in white-bread, honky-tonk Alberta. Not to say I don’t enjoy a little country once in a while, but when that extends to judging overweight people for being lazy or cocaine addicts for being somehow corrupted… that just doesn’t fly with me anymore. The one thing that medical school has impressed on me is the need for absolute acceptance of anything that walks in the door. A 15-year-old mother, a depressed lawyer who refuses to acknowledge his illness, parents who choose not to vaccinate their children… none of it really fazes me anymore. Because I know everyone has a story, even if they’re not telling.
Also in progress, I’m coming to terms with how I react to the unknown. Because nothing is more terrifying than having zero clue what you’re doing and what you’re dealing with. Truth be told, there’s still a part of me that’s liberally freaking out… but there’s always a little bit that gets very still and quiet. Usually if I can calm myself enough to really listen to it, Little Me has some wonderful pearls of wisdom to dole out. It’s often “Chill out – they’re not going to have another heart attack in the next 5 minutes” or “I have no idea – FIFE?” It may not seem like much, but it’s an awfully large improvement from the beginning of last year where the very thought of an OSCE gave me palpitations.
Some of the most difficult moments lay ahead. I’ve never diagnosed anyone with multiple sclerosis. I’ve never told a mother that her baby is stillborn. I’ve never talked with a family about taking a loved one off a ventilator. But knowing that I’ve made it this far gives me hope that I’ll be able to handle whatever the medical world throws at me.
Better yet, even if I can’t manage the overwhelming weight, I have a class full of excellent people who get it. And maybe that’s the biggest change of all – I felt like I was stumbling through undergrad, earning excellent grades but not a sense of direction. I feel more calm than I did then, now that I have an ultimate goal. A purpose. Not to mention some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I credit med school not only with a vast increase in knowledge and curiosity, but also with finding a place to belong. And I think that’s really what will pull me through the coming years and far past graduation. Someday I’ll forget acid-base chemistry. Again. But I won’t forget where to turn for help or who to call for coffee.