It seems to me as if only a few months have passed since I spent all my days during a beautiful summer studying for my USMLE Step 1. But, it has already been one academic year and here I am, yet again, studying for Step 2 CK that I write in 6 weeks. This is another summer that I spend indoors to study.
With friends getting engaged and married, buying houses, and cars, and slowly reproducing, I sit here and memorize algorithms to manage different types of shock. During my breaks, I find myself checking their statuses on Facebook and see them enjoying walks on beaches across the world, and sipping on iced-cold drinks. I won’t lie. My friends do sometimes make me rethink some of my life decisions.
Nevertheless, what makes me really know deep down inside that I am meant to be a physician are the smiles of appreciation that see on my patients’ faces. It may seem as a cliché, but the best part of my day is seeing my patients (aside from seeing a significant other). As much as taking a detailed history and doing a thorough physical exam are a part of my duties as a medical student, I learned that building a great rapport with patients is also vital to my role; it impacts patients’ compliance. As long as time permits, I try to give the patients my undivided time, and listen to their personal stories.
During my Medicine clerkship, I evaluated a lot of elderly patients, and most of them were from nursing homes. I found it quite astonishing to see their eyes light up when I gave them just five minutes of my time to discuss what they ate that morning, how humid of a day it was, and their plans for the weekend. When I saw them for a follow-up visit, they remembered my face and the topics we discussed at the last visit. To have at-least half of my patients tell me that I am one of the few who listened to them talk in months, makes me feel that warm feeling inside of me that I felt once upon a time when I decided that I wanted to be a doctor.
I understand, that as a medical student, I have ample time to interact with patients, and as my title slowly rises, that I am going to be responsible for much more patients, and my time has to be divided among many other things. But, I am looking forward to all of that. The reasons why I wanted to be a physician were not only to care for my patients, but to also listen to their stories. Building patient rapport and guiding them to live healthier lives keeps me sane during my long hours of studying and strengthens my love for this field.
To those of you who are in the same boat as me, just remember that, as soon as you are through with your Steps in the upcoming months, you get to enjoy the rest of the summer too. Six more weeks for me!