A medical student’s letter to her parents


Dear Mom and Dad,

I love you, and thank you. The rest of this letter is an attempt to write something more eloquent and thoughtful, but those are the best and truest words I can ever speak to you. I made the decision to enter the medical field when the rest of our family is from a business and finance background. Despite being unfamiliar with the different hurdles of application cycles, clinical rotations, and board exams you were beside me the whole time to provide strength and encouragement, allowing me to turn my dream of becoming a doctor into a reality. Even though words like “anastomosis” and “lateral wall ischemia” may have sounded like a fictional language, you always let me excitedly ramble about different topics and pretended to be interested. Your advice before my first anatomy mid-term to remember that, “The hip bone is connected to the knee bone” has also been a vital reminder to keep a sense of perspective and humor in the midst of the more stressful situations.

Over the past four years, you have been an invaluable calming presence that let me focus on my personal goals. I love what I do, but there are still times when the sacrifices and strain become uncomfortable. Missed holidays were eased with trying to video chat the entire family from your phones. I’m still not convinced Grandpa knew what was going on, but it was great to see his faces! Whether I wanted to tell you about either the frustration or the elation I was feeling after caring for certain patients, you always listened and kept me centered.

In many ways, graduation is simply the next step in my personal adventure. By completing medical school, I have earned both a very expensive piece of paper as well as the right to put two letters after my name. When I start residency in July, I will be signing my name as “Hillary, M.D.” The busy yet exciting hours might wear down my initial excitement, but I know I can count on you two to be the same parents who have provided the constant, unwavering support over the past 28 years. The same parents who have shown me that a dream takes hard work to become reality. The same parents who have offered both quiet whispers of encouragement and shouts of joy. So, Mom and Dad, as I start seeing my signature on an endless stream of documents, I’d like to think that I will always look at it and see those “M.D.” letters for what they truly represent, “Mom and Dad.” Right behind me, like you’ve always been and always will be. Mom and Dad, I love you, and thank you.

Love always,

Hillary, M.D.

Hillary McKinley is a medical student.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com


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