Doctors' Day 2019
I’ve started writing this post in many different ways as there are so MANY doctors I am grateful to on Doctors’ Day. And so MANY patients as well, both still kids and some now adults, and some are now gone.
But what I keep thinking about this year are those OTHER doctors who helped me become a doctor. No, not my attendings, though I’m grateful to most of them too.
I’m talking about my friends in medical school. There were many of them but there are several who were by my side the whole time, and who I still consider as close to my heart even if we only talk a few times a year, or even if has been YEARS since we’ve spoken.
Medical school really is difficult. There’s a LOT of studying. A lot more than in undergrad, and I was a double major.
Here’s what I remember most:
My first year of med school, I lived in the dorms which were located down the street from the med school. (Mr. Bookworm was in grad school in CA and he moved out the following summer after we got married.) There were so many nights when my friends and I wandered over to the old M&V building and found random classrooms to study in. There were many weekends when we found all the libraries in Boston: at our own medical library, at Tufts undergrad campus in Medford, at Northeastern undergrad campus, and, my favorite, at various law school libraries. The Tufts med students were especially notorious for closing out the Suffolk law library on a Saturday night, even as there were NO law students in sight.
I also remember pulling all nighters, something I never did as an undergrad. Whereas I was always overly prepared for my Biology classes in undergrad, studying a little bit at a time, I was a HUGE procrastinator in med school. The sheer volume of material intimidated me, I suppose. And I had decent short term memory to help me get by. And, maybe, just maybe, I was realizing that I wasn’t the smartest person in the room any longer. I squeaked by those classes.
If I had to do it again, I might have done it differently. I admit that I also wasted a lot of time—I was finishing my Master’s thesis in Creative Writing during my first year, and I was adjusting to being across country from my family and fiance in a cold and new place. So I stayed up watching movies, I wrote about my experiences, I made new friendships, I went to bars (unlike I did in undergrad), I sewed random small projects, and I ran out with a group of other Californians to Boston Commons when the first snow flakes fell that winter.
I also, in retrospect, might have been a bit depressed. I stayed up until 2AM, doing nothing. I couldn’t sleep. I questioned if I should be a doctor. I think all of us do at some point. In fact, all along I told myself that I may not even do residency. In retrospect, again, I think that at the time I was protecting my brain from the knowledge that I was about to have the roughest seven years of my life.
And through it all, my friends were there for me. (Of course, Mr. Bookworm too, as he has been a huge support through our years together.)
We were all in the same boat, memorizing and learning while trying not to lost ourselves. (And, me, especially as Anatomy was jarring and emotional for me—someone faced literally with death. And, at the same time, faced with the immense generosity of the human spirit.)
My friends were there for me, reminding me that I was not alone, that there was a reason for our countless hours of study.
And once I became a doctor, I understood more what those reasons are.
Becoming a doctor is not a solitary process. There are so many people who make a difference every step of the way. And to Claire, Serena, Cecile, Eugene, and my other med school friends (Mer and Rachel and so many more), thank YOU. You guys are amazing people and doctors, and most especially, you are wonderful friends.
Today on Doctors’ Day, I raise a glass to the class of 2003 at TUSM. Thank you for being the doctors and friends who you are. <3
To Dr. C: Who on a night on call, reminded me of my humanity. We were watching and waiting while our patient was inevitably dying in the ICU. And Dr. C still taught me about sepsis, about family, about commitment, about being the best doctor you can be, even in a time of death.
To Dr. B: who took care of my baby, who made sure I met her alive. Who also taught me that it’s okay to choose my family over my career.
To Dr. D: who taught me compassion in so many big and little moments.
To Dr. C: Whose bright smile brings so much joy to those around her, even in the hardest moments.
I’m reluctant to make a list because I know I’m going to forget someone. But to my community of kids who make a difference to me every day:
And my own chickadees, Little Lion and Mini Me.
I made a list and deleted it because I know I forgot someone and certain siblings. It’s like Reading Rainbow all over again. Is that the one with the magic mirror? I apologize, and I still appreciate your smiles, laughs, cries, and the privilege of being able to take care of you and see you grow up. And thank you to the teens and pre-teens for putting up with my talkativeness and inquisitive nature. :D
[The irony is that I wrote most of this weeks ago but have been too busy on actual Doctor’s Day today with doctoring to post this until now. #doctorlife]