To be a third year medical student is to enter a world that few understand. The pressure of constant evaluation, the stress of doing well in the field which you want to enter, and the fear of making a mistake often haunt the very long days and night which characterize the most physically exhausting year of medical school.
Yet quite frequently as I move through this year I find myself feeling one thing: thankful.
And as such, to my patients, to each and every one of you who don’t roll your eyes when a student enters the room but instead welcomes me in, I say thank you.
Thank you for allowing me to learn from the most difficult situations of your life. Thank you for allowing me to be present for the most intimate conversations, the most challenging decisions.
Thank you for letting me help to find your baby’s heart tones for the first time, to deliver your baby, to cut the cord, to hold your child as he or she takes a first breath.
Thank you for being willing to talk to me when your child is sick, for allowing me to learn how to be a better clinician by walking with you through life’s darkest moments. For allowing me to be in the room when you are told your child has leukemia. For trusting me to give a vaccine for the first time. For letting me wake your little one up in the wee hours of the morning and smiling as you tell me the details of a story that five other people have already asked you.
Thank you for the smile of support when I bumble as I ask you about your hypertension or chronic kidney disease. For understanding that I’m just as scared sometimes as you are. For telling me the intimate details of your life—the fears, the concerns, the anxiety, the depression, the daily struggles. For trusting me enough to tell me honestly why you aren’t able to watch your diet or to take your medications.
Thank you for allowing me to stand in your room in the dark days as you fight cancer, and chronic disease, and suffer in pain. For allowing me to scrub in on the surgery where your potentially life ending tumor is removed. For allowing me to be the hands that help to intubate you for your procedure, that place your IV, that close your incision, that pack your wound, and that change your dressing each day. For smiling at me each morning even though you are still in pain.
Thank you for all that you give to me. For the multitude of lessons each of you has taught me. For caring about my education. For trusting me, encouraging me, inspiring me, and for forming the doctor I one day will be…
I thank you.
Kathleen McFadden is a medical student.
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