A New Perspective
As I entered into my third-year rotations, I was worried that I did not have enough to offer. I had not memorized every word in the books I was assigned to read. I didn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of everything in first aid. I didn’t know if I could come up with the right answers when I needed to. In other words, I walked into my third-year rotations like most everyone else.
A few weeks later, I walked away with a brand new perspective.
As medical students, we are designed to believe that we’ll get the most gratification from our ability to be correct. However, as each day passes, I continue to find that the greatest sense of gratification comes when I simply listen to patients. The reality is, we all have so much to offer that has nothing to do with how we perform on tests.
The greatest thing I had to offer to patients was not my knowledge; it wasn’t my ability to recount facts. My greatest gift wasn’t my ability to come up with the ever so important differential diagnoses. Instead, my greatest gift was my willingness to spend time with patients and let them speak with their hearts.
By simply listening, I was giving people something that did not take hours to learn -- something so simple, yet so valuable. I was giving people my time. Looking back on my medical education thus far, I wish that I’d have known what I know now from the beginning. If I would have approached medical school with the perspective that grades would not be the defining factor in what type of doctor I’d become, I could have enjoyed the journey so much more and been able to give everyone around me so much more of myself.
If you’re a new medical student, overwhelmed by deadlines, assignments and rapidly-approaching test dates, this fact can be hard to discover. As a third year medical student, I can tell you that it is not only true, but freeing.
For me, life became much more beautiful when I realized that each person around me was living a life just as complex as my own, filled with ambitions, routines, worries, and chaos. We each have a story that exists silently around us. How we act plays a roll not only in our story, but in the stories of countless others around us. Although I may appear only one time in a person’s life, how I act in that moment in time could change their life forever. Ultimately, the energy we put out into the world -- the kind of day we create for ourselves and others -- is completely under our control.
If we change our outlook on life and approach every interaction with more heart, more love and more compassion, we can say that, despite what has happened or how we felt before, we made ordinary days more extraordinary for everyone we cross paths with. While we cannot control how much time anyone has with us, or how long we have in this life, we can control the moments within that time. As future physicians, we will sometimes have the ability to impact how someone’s school day will be; how someone’s work day will be; how someone’s last day will be. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but it will always be the right thing to do.
So say sorry. Say hello. Say good morning. Hold doors open, give more hugs, acknowledge the homeless person asking you for money, make people feel like they are worthy and deserving of happiness. Our actions can change this world for the better and those actions are not determined by our test scores.
Going into the field of medicine, a common thought is that all we have to offer is what we have learned from our books and our studies. We constantly judge ourselves based on how we perform on tests and how we compare to other people. We hear other people’s achievements as character flaws in our own self for not being able to perform at the same level, or we celebrate our achievements and forget others who struggled to get the bare minimum. We begin judging ourselves and our peers as numbers on a paper and get so caught up in saying who is smart and who was able to perform better than others or who did not pass the test.
We forget that, instead of just grades in a class, each person can be defined in their own unique way and has so much more to offer to the world than just scores.
Osteopathic Medical Student - 3rd year (OMS III)
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences