As a medical student, it is often difficult to feel like you matter. Getting the attending’s attention is sometimes an achievement in itself. Not getting yelled at? Even better! The days blend together into a blurry cycle of going to the hospital and slamming flashcards and questions for the next test.
In between however, amidst the course requirements and rapid fire questions you only barely know how to answer, there is time. What we have, and what we will slowly lose in the course of our careers is the quickly crystallizing amber of time. When you take a history or do a physical exam, you give the patient the careful consideration most attendings do not have the luxury to give. This is a gift you must use wisely.
In this quiet space you build a relationship with the patient, another human being, who bares their life to you in hopes that you may find something in their story that can help you cure them. In examining the patient, you see, feel and hear the evidence of their story in their skin, eyes, heart and abdomen. What a beautiful and terrifying thing - to have your life’s story written out for a discerning eye to read.
It is in these moments you notice - the dropped pulse in the pool salesman and the specks of dried blood in the carpenter’s hair. It is in these moments that you record your findings, and unencumbered by a myriad of other responsibilities, follow through and double check. It is in these moments you might just save a life.
So in the cycle of question banks and endless rejections in the path to medicine, remember this: You are important. You are relevant. You are needed. One day you will look back at these building blocks of your skillset and realize that every person you interacted carried a precious lesson. Where their journey and yours collided, they taught you something: In the bustling hallways where people come to heal, there is a place for you. Guard it well.