With permission from the writer, I am sharing this medical student's statement sharing his reasons for trading 8 years of his 20's preparing to be a physician. He will have invested 15,000-20,000 hours in clinical training by the time he has earned the right to be an attending physician (ready for the unsupervised practice of medicine/surgery)
"Just having a simple hug around the neck and a 'thank you for everything you did was one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever experienced. This is when I knew internal medicine was for me. What is one of the greatest feelings a person could have? To me, it is knowing that I helped an individual better his or her life. This is my ultimate goal as a future physician.
I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a doctor, but it took experience and thought to decide internal medicine as my optimal specialty. As a physical therapy technician in a small community hospital, I first discovered how good it felt to help people. I saw patients recover from surgeries, falls, and strokes while helping with their rehabilitation efforts. I bonded with them, taking time to get to know my patients. Once this happened, I was able to see the effect of simple conversations with people, and the resultant increased trust in me as part of the healthcare team. As a medical student, I started on my rotations seeing 'my patients' and making them the center of attention when I entered their room.
As an internist, I will focus on the patient and see who they are, and build relationships while solving numerous problems, from strokes to gastrointestinal issues to controlling blood pressure and diabetes. At the front line of medicine, internists must use clinical skills but first, we must listen very well. By listening to patients, we learn much more about deep issues and show a keen interest in their well-being.
An internist gives great attention to detail as we deal with many organ systems. Internists have a broad knowledge of medicine to effectively treat patients. It is almost like working on a giant puzzle with some of the smaller pieces messing everything up.
With my experiences in rural Appalachia, larger cities, and a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I have seen different cultures and beliefs. During these encounters, I have had to earn the patients' trust and learn their needs. I have had to critically think about the presentation and learn the diagnosis and how to treat it.
Coming from a rural community in Appalachia, I see the importance of well-trained physicians providing care to patients. I can positively impact a community. I can provide the best care in conjunction with the team of nurses, pharmacists, therapists, etc as I learn teamwork on the house staff rotations. I bring dedication and a humanistic emphasis on compassionate care wherever I train and ultimately practice medicine. I hope to mentor medical students in the future as well as junior physicians in training. I may not always know the answer, but I will always seek the needed answers for my patients."