Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'll Always Be a Student

The sun shone on my face as I walked away from the hospital.  It was a cool day but the sun felt warm and comforting.  I looked back at the enormous building, smiled, and said a soft "farewell." 

So much happened at that place.  

I studied countless hours of biochemistry, immunology, and physiology. 
I meticulously worked with my anatomy cadaver to reveal the intricacies of the human body.
I drank coffee.
Lots of coffee.
I studied 16 hours a day for a month to prepare for a single exam. 
I hit the snooze button at 3:45 am.
Sometimes I never saw the light of day.
I made decisions that were right and I made others that were very wrong.
There were tears shed for dying patients and celebrations for babies born.
I watched 6 surgeons struggle for hours to save a man's life and ultimately succeed.
I helped families decide on hospice care and I watched as they said goodbye.
I touched the faces of 2 pound babies fighting for every breath. 
I made children giggle hysterically through office visits. 
I saw sheer joy as women heard their babies' heartbeats for the first time and I witnessed intense mourning when they did not. 
I watched patients hit rock bottom on chemotherapy and I saw them smiling when they were cancer-free.
I learned about resilience and strength from patients who were not able to even tell me their stories.
Children with horrible genetic diseases showed me how to appreciate the little things.
I listened to a 27-year-old scream in pain every morning from her invasive cervical cancer.  She was on enough pain medication to sedate an elephant and yet she still screamed.
Elderly women held my hand and reassured me that I would succeed.
Elderly men held my hand and told me I was beautiful (and other less tactful variations.)
I treated gang members, murderers, drug addicts, sex workers, and homeless schizophrenics. 
In the same day, I treated philanthropists, teachers, social workers, and diplomats.
I learned something from every single patient that I came across and I wish I could thank them all.

Twenty-five years ago, I walked into early Kindergarten.  This Friday I walked away from my last day as a medical student.   The next phase in my career will bring countless new experiences, some of which will be wonderful and some heartbreaking.  Regardless, I know that they will all teach me something important.

I may not be a student but I will always keep learning.


  1. Enjoy graduation! Those funny hats get me every time ;)

    The older I get, the more I realize how much I need to learn...and the more I learn the dumber I feel!!

  2. ps...I don't even think "dumber" is a word ;)....but I like it anyway. HA!!

  3. Congratulations! How very exciting!

  4. What a touching post. Yay for the next phase in your journey!

  5. Be proud of yourself for what you've accomplished and look forward to the wonderful things you will do in your future! A student you will forever be!

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