I needed to remind myself why I’m still doing this. It’s so hard to explain because I know that there were literally thousands of students that wanted my seat but rather than a seat on a cross-country journey, this is more like front row on a roller coaster. The long days of lectures and lab review seem to blend into the very short nights spent recalling arterial branches and nerve plexuses rather than sleeping and when sleep does come, the dreams surround the development of internal organs and muscle actions rather than adventures in far away lands. Somehow the science of medicine has taken over my psyche and while I love the science, the art is my passion. I had been creeping by on the thrill of doing patient interviews on my classmates and our standardized patients and even expanded to my family and friends who were all willing to take a place center stage in my medical drama. It’s no longer filling my longing for the real patient interaction like those short lived weeks ago.
I saddled up and rode into battle to finish this anatomy final once and for all. After 5 days of little sleep and more time in the cadaver lab than should be allowed, it was over. My classmates started their celebrations, good company and spirits for the occasion but I still needed to remember why. This experience to me is like a piece of fine art. All paintings have a viewing distance, too close and you miss the image that the artist intended for you to see while being lost in the details, too far away and you lose the meaning all together. This painting entitled “Medical School 2013-2017” is just the same. I’d been too close for far too long, wrapped in the intricacies of the brush stroke like bookwork that the art itself had become a maze that I, while surviving, was losing my passion in. Reach Out put it all back into perspective. I entered the clinic and triaged my first patient, then a second, and before the night was over, I was side by side with a doctor who taught me more than just which medicines to prescribe and tests to order. She gave me real advice on keeping my viewing distance. In 4 hours, I went from being entangled in the splotches of paint left from memorizing lymph drainage and the outlines from learning the embryologic derivation of mesentery placement to seeing, feeling, and experiencing the beautiful work of art, Medicine, that has entwined itself into the fibers of the canvas of my very being.