The average amount of time it takes someone to become a physician is approximately 11 years, and for those pursuing further specialization, one can easily add a couple of years to that. The time certainly adds up by investing years in college, medical school, residency, and fellowship. By the time I will be an independently practicing cardiologist, I would have invested about 16 years into my training. That’s almost half of my lifetime. Every physician has their own reason for pursuing medicine; however, the majority of us go through such an arduous and invigorating training process because ultimately we want to positively impact peoples’ lives.
Our day typically starts at the crack of dawn and at times ends after sunset. There have been days where I have been disconnected from the world, unaware of the outside conditions, and missed important life events and holidays because my priority has been my patients. During my internal medicine training, I can vividly remember countless times where my first meal of the day was when I had returned home from work. I can also recall numerous days where I remained on my feet, worked around the clock, continuously advocated for my patients, and placed their needs above my own.
I have also witnessed these attributes in my peers and mentors, who work equally hard to ensure the best for their patients. Whether it is staying after a long day of work to transmit medication refills to the pharmacy, accounting for all the charting and paperwork, remaining over time to talk to the patient’s loved ones, or coming in the middle of the night to perform emergent procedures, the unrelenting nature of a physician is refreshing, breath-taking, and inspiring.
The path and journey is not a tranquil one. The road is paved with countless sacrifices, tremendous hard work, unwavering commitment, and several failures but also with triumphs. It takes a special individual to embark and complete this journey: someone who is willing to sacrifice their time, youth, money, relationships, and their health. In the end, we are the ones called upon to impact someone’s life directly. We earn the responsibility of upholding excellent care towards those we encounter every single time. Thus, the next time you visit your physician notice the compassion in their voice, the sacrifices in exchange for their medical wisdom, and exemplification of hard work in their wrinkles. And know that a lot went into the making.
This article is dedicated to all my peers, mentors, and co-physicians who unceasingly work hard to stand on the front line of health, ensuring well-being for every person they encounter, who at times place their patients’ needs above their very own. Here’s to the everyday champion: your physician.
Supreeya Swarup is a cardiology fellow. This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.
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