What is this strange place I’ve found myself in?
As medical students, we place ourselves in uncomfortable situations – willingly or unwillingly – and, at times, are left responsible for patient management and care. When this first happens, you begin with your history and physical examination script “hello? how are you? OPQRST?” seemingly oblivious to the ever-building responsibility placed upon your shoulders… until something goes wrong.
Then what? How do I separate myself from the patient and his or struggles? How am I supposed to deliver adequate medical care to someone who is exposing themselves and bearing-all in front of me? Someone who is hoping and willing that I will finally be the person who solves their problem… and when I don’t? When I can’t provide what they’ve been asking for? How can I, as a human being, walk out of that room and convince myself that I’ve done my job?
During an elective, I saw a young woman’s entire world fall apart in front of me and I will never, ever forget, nor be able to fully explain, how I felt in that moment – how I felt watching someone’s whole person crumble away in front of me. I felt responsible, inadequate and obliterated. In the days following, I moved forward with a heavy heart and a blurry mind.
What is this stark reality I’ve found myself in?
The life of a medical student.