“If there’s anything I want you to get out of this lecture it’s this: listen to your patient’s story.”
My class shifted uncomfortably in our squeaky chairs in the lecture hall. It wasn’t what we were expecting for the start of our third lecture of the day in the midst of our busy pulmonology theme. Our final exam loomed in the close yet distant future a single week away, that delicate cusp of that point of having garnered a robust knowledge of common respiratory illnesses and the inevitable late night attempts of synthesizing and organizing the hours of lectures and readings into enough correct multiple choice answers on the one hundred question exam to demonstrate we had “mastered” the massive breadth of the field.
The morning’s lecture’s topic was on chest radiology, specifically chest x-rays. Distinguishing even normal from abnormal chest x-rays is an ordeal for a novice with a tendency to glance over the smallest intricacies of small whisker thin lines on black and grey backgrounds, like me. So I guess you could say I was looking forward to the two hour crash course on the topic. And I don’t think I was the only one in the class thinking the same thing.
Instead, I walked out of the class with a marginally better understanding of chest x-rays, and more importantly, a reminder of what the hours upon hours of studying is for in the long run. I’m blessed to be in the position I am, to be studying the human body in such an intimate fashion, but the relentless grind can be tiring. The patients we’ll be serving are ultimately what matters in the end, and THAT is what I draw upon when the process seems more than I can handle.