ENTERING THE MEDICAL WORLD
March 30 was National Doctors Day and it made me reflect on the last seventeen years in practice after graduating medical school. I can still remember the day I walked down that podium at my medical school to accept my diploma and earn my medical degree. It seems like a lifetime ago yet the feelings of excitement, pride, hope, and fear as I embarked on my career are still imprinted in my memory.
I was so fortunate to represent my class and give the graduation speech all those years ago after I recited the Hippocratic Oath. The Oath reminds physicians to treat to the best of one’s ability, to do no harm, to foster mentorship for other students of medicine and uphold an ethical code. It guides all physicians through the practice of medicine. I still take this Oath seriously every time I step foot into a medical office, hospital or academic institution.
THE CONNECTION WITH THE WIZARD OF OZ AND BEING A DOCTOR
I recall the speech that I gave which was inspired by the Wizard of Oz, one of my favorite books and movies of all time. I felt that the “yellow brick road” symbolized the long journey or path that one begins when he or she decides to pursue a career as a physician. The path begins in high school and continues through college, then medical school, internship, residency and fellowship or specialty training for some. The “Oz” image is when we “leave the nest” and practice on our own. It is not an easy road and often faced with multiple obstacles and challenges.
The three beloved characters the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion all represent the most important qualities I believe are essential to becoming a competent physician. The scarecrow befriends Dorothy because he wants a brain. The medical training or curriculum is extremely challenging and academically rigorous. There is so much information being processed daily and so many hours are dedicated to studying to accomplish an MD degree and maintain it after graduation. There are times when you feel that your brain can’t possibly hold more information. I am constantly learning about new diagnostic studies and treatments still every day. lifelong learning never ends in this career.
EVERYONE NEEDS A HEART
The endearing Tin Man longs for a heart. In order to be an excellent physician, one must demonstrate compassion and empathy. There is human suffering all around us and no one can imagine what another person is going through unless you walk in that individual’s shoes. Every day when I see a patient, I am reminded to imagine if it was me, a friend or loved one sitting in the chair seeking help and guidance.
In today’s complex world of healthcare, there are constant demands placed on physicians by insurance companies and the hospitals to see patients quickly and get notes completed in a short time. It is so difficult to spend the ideal amount of time that I want evaluating a patient and I feel frustrated sometimes. I may not have control over this demand. I do have control over making the best of the time I spend with someone talking to him or her about a diagnosis, discussing questions and concerns that he or she may have and showing my support. No matter how tough the pressures may get, having a patient feel cared for and valued can never get lost or null.
HEAR ME ROAR……
Lastly, my favorite character, the lovable yet fearful Lion desperately wishes for courage. As physicians, we will all be faced with ethical dilemmas and conflicts that will require us to reach deep into our souls and make the difficult ethical decisions for our patients. The benefit of the patient always comes first. We might have to speak up and not look away if there is situation that feels wrong or uncomfortable. Getting to the end of the journey is not easy and we all have to strive to get to that point by doing the right thing always. Doctors are not PERFECT orSUPER HUMAN, but we have to try to live up to the ideals of the Hippocratic oath as best as we can.
I thank all the people who have supported me, guided me and have been on this journey with me. My parents, family, friends, mentors, teachers, colleagues, and patients are all included in this network and know who they are. I celebrate all the doctors who put their patients’ needs first and set the examples for others to stay committed to their profession even despite the changes in the, environment. I am lucky to do what I do and hope to continue and explore the different ways I can use my degree and make meaningful contributions to society as the next phase of my career begins.
HAPPY DOCTOR’s DAY TO ALL!