Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

There is not a more fitting title to this entry - I feel curiously calm, even though the storm is in sight. On Monday, I will depart the realm of being a second year medical student, where mistakes can be forgiven, to the real world as a third-year medical student in which my actions have consequences, both insignificant and dire. My decisions may not dictate life or death, but they can make a big difference in non-obvious ways. I can only pray that my bright-eyed, optimistic attitude will stay with me when I pop out the other end of the third-year tunnel, and that I will remember that my duty is to serve others - this is not an egoistic game of puzzles in which I race to the one, correct diagnosis, the way House does. No, this is not about the doctors - it is about the patients. It is about what they want, what they need, what they become, and there is never one, correct diagnosis. Health is a complicated interplay of factors that can never be handled through a single diagnosis, and I again pray that I will be as thorough as I hope to be. My biggest fear is that the monster that is the medical system will strip from me the passion, the patience, and the kindness, all of which are vulnerable to fatigue and competition. I feel it slipping away as we speak - part of it became casualties to the gruelling board studying and various events of second year. One thing I can hold on to is the exciting curiosity to learn and excel at neurology, my first rotation. I believe in hard work and the gift of intelligence given by my genes+environment - the power of the two combined should overcome any obstacles, and there will be no excuses to fail.
I can only hope that this entry will keep me grounded and focused until the journey through this black hole comes to an end. Do you remember those exercises in high school, where you write a letter to yourself 10 years in the future? This is one of those letters, and I hope it reminds me of me, before the transformation - good or bad transformation.
Entries after this one, hopefully many, will record encounters throughout this journey, life-changing or petty.

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