This week I worked the night shift on the Labor and Delivery floor with ObGyn residents and a medical student. I happened to work a lot with the medical student and had an awesome time working by his side. This guy was great! You could tell that he loved engaging with patients….even at 4am in the morning. He enjoyed putting a smile on each patient’s face and showed how appreciative he was in being able to take part in their care. Well, as me and my medical student began talking, he mentioned that he liked connecting with our patients, but knows that he needs to learn a lot more about medicine. Now, if you know me…you’ll know that I took this as a huge teaching moment.
I told him that connecting with people is the heart of medicine. Many times we see patients who come to us hopeless about their medical condition and their life in general. Our job is to give hope to the hopeless. We, of course, have to be able to diagnose patients, give them the best evidenced based medicine, but as doctors we are also charged to show them love. We have the responsibility to actually CARE for our patients. In my opinion, connecting with patients on a basic human level is the core definition of medicine. If there is any time where the field of medicine does not allow me to care about my patients and connect with them as a human being, that will be the exact day that I will pack up my bags, take my MD degree, and leave. And, I am so serious…I would just leave medicine and not turn back.
From that night and that medical student, I learned that it is my job to continue to teach the humanism of medicine. As a resident physician and future attending, I believe that teaching the lesson of caring for people is the best lesson that I can give. My deepest prayer is that if my medical student didn’t learn anything else from me during our time together…I hope he learned that he already knows the biggest part of medicine that few people pay attention to and some health providers never understand. I am excited to see where medicine will take him. One thing I know...if he continues TO CARE for his patients, he will be one of the FINEST doctors in the world.