Today, I came across this line in a patient’s chart, dated from the early hours of the morning:

Family remains at bedside.

That resonated with me. The image of a son and daughter sitting by their father’s hospital bed, waiting to hear what the physician has to say.

Cliché? Perhaps. But then we went into the room, and the cliché came true.

Though I didn’t know about clerkship when I decided to come here, it has rapidly become the best part of my week. I see patients under the supervision of either a social worker or a resident, help gather a history, and generally am a witness to the unique experience that is the Clinical Encounter. In just three sessions, I’ve seen fear, worry, joy, denial, assertion — in short, all those pieces of humanity that made me want to become a doctor in the first place.

I don’t know pharmacology yet, and I can’t differentially diagnose your lower back pain, but I feel so privileged just to be allowed to be with people who are experiencing some of the most intense emotions of the human condition.

It more than makes up for confusing lectures on deciphering an EKG.


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