Medical students rotate through the clinic I work at. I love it. It brings me back to those days. Sure, it reminds me how old I am, but also reminds me of the incredible impact patients have in directing the course of our career paths.
We all have those memories. Our first delivery. Our first code. The first time we had to do an ABG. Our first surgery. The list goes on and each moment is seared into our memories.
I still have that picture. The one of me, the new mother, and her precious newborn. It was at that moment that I knew I’d rather be a pediatrician than an OB/GYN; the other specialty I was contemplating.
I remember vividly, conversations I had with struggling alcoholics, worried mothers, and pregnant teens.
It was a time when I could finally see where this long road of schooling was taking me. And it felt good.
So when I see parents become a bit annoyed or who outright refuse to see “the medical student”, I just want to say…
Today is your lucky day. You get a young burgeoning doctor unencumbered by time constraints. They don’t care about the waiting room full of patients. They are hopeful, enthusiastic, and not yet jaded by the realities of practicing medicine. The weight of those enormous medical school loans are not yet felt on their sturdy and cheery 26 year old backs.
They are there for you and your child. They listen intently. Maybe you think they’re asking too many questions, but they’re determined to get a complete history. They know their job is to listen and be meticulous about their physical exam.
Seriously, when was the last time you had someone listen to you so earnestly?
They will report back to the physician in charge; make sure you don’t leave without that handout about picky eaters or without that number for poison control. They don’t rush you or look at the clock as you describe in detail the last three years of your child’s life.
They care. They are young. They are at the magical intersection of theory and reality.
So, tomorrow, when you’re at your doctor’s office and you hear those words “the medical student will see you now”; instead of cringing, consider it your lucky day. Because not only will you get a budding doctor full of hope (and time); you might have the distinct privilege of being that one patient. The one that becomes instrumental in shaping a young doctor’s career path.
Just as that newborn was in mine.
Melissa Arca is a pediatrician who blogs at Confessions of a Dr. Mom.