I love training medical students. They bring me great joy and as they are one of the most under-appreciated groups of people in any hospital or medical practice, I thought I would write a love letter to share how I feel, and perhaps inspire them to keep going so they can become healthy and happy young doctors who can in turn train and inspire the next generation.
Dear Medical Students,
I love working with you.
You inspire me every time I see your open smiling faces. Your infectious joy and enthusiasm, your love of learning about the human body, your love for people and your earnest desire to help them, remind me why I chose to be a doctor too.
Your quick wit, your penetrating questions, keep me alert and on my toes, and ask me to consider deeply why I think the way I do and practice the way I do.
Your moments of glazed-over eyes and furtive glances at your phones while I am giving a lecture, invite me to go deeper and feel where you are at and speak to you there, not where I may like to be or where I think you should be.
Your blank stares when I explain how to use the slit lamp invite me to go deeper in my understanding of how it works, so that I may explain its use even more simply and clearly.
Your current knowledge often updates mine, and keeps me abreast of the advances in our rapidly changing medical world.
Your “out of left field” questions invite me to question established paradigms, and to never assume anything nor take anything for granted.
Your loveliness with my patients, and your humble gratitude for allowing you to be part of their consultation reminds me to bring the same humility and grace to my every interaction with them.
Your tenderness, your fragility, your delicate young natures inspire me to go ever deeper into the tenderness and care I can bring to you and to all my patients.
You are the life-blood of our profession. Without you, we would all die off within a generation or two.
Learn to value and cherish yourselves as much as we do.
Don’t be disheartened by any ill-treatment at the hands of those who do not love and care for you, but allow yourselves to be inspired by those who do.
We can only care for others as much as we care for ourselves, so if others are not caring for you, that is a reflection on them, not on you.
Care deeply for yourselves.
Care for each other.
Medicine can be a trial-by-fire apprenticeship, but bask in its heat; don’t be burned by it.
With support, you will learn, and grow, and be the great doctor you can be and already are.
And there are plenty of us here to offer that support; all you need to do is ask.
We all make mistakes, but learn from, don’t be crushed by them, and you will be even greater for them.
Support each other, don’t compete with each other or drag each other down, but lift each other up and hold each other if you are struggling.
Don’t ever forget who you are and why you chose to do medicine, and if you are struggling to remember, reach out for help, for we are not designed to do this alone.
Enjoy the journey of learning to become a member of our noble profession, medicine, but never forget that it is what you do, not who you are, and that nothing is more important than your own health and wellbeing, for a doctor who cares deeply for themselves can inspire all of us to do the same.
This article was first published on 7 January 2019 on To Medicine with Love