Today I return to the ward for my hardest course unit since I joined medical school. At this time, I have to actively remind myself of how extremely lucky I am to be in medical school; even if at a university ranked _ (I’d rather not say) in the world and in a third world country. I actually get to live my life long dream to help people! But I don’t wake up every morning thinking to my self, o how lucky I am to be going to medical school today; to learn more about how to help people. In fact, on more days than I am proud to admit, I drag myself to class, then to ward, back to ward for call or the library and back to bed. On some days I am really motivated, but there are some days I wish I was in a different place or time because I am tired, hungry and sleep deprived.
Saving lives is hardly a daily concern of mine. This is what goes through my mind on the daily, hunger, fatigue, assignments, exams and dirty dishes that have over stayed in my room. At the end of the day, I don’t have much time left to think about strangers. Not that I don’t care for them but that the mundane things of life have clouded such thoughts.
There are times when I see a colleague do or say something that makes me wonder whether or not they actually care for the people they serve. But almost invariably the answer is that they actually do care for their patients. They cared enough to at least drag their feet to work that day even when they had better places to be and better company to keep. They care most of the time though there are times when they kind of don’t care! The mundane things of life occasionally cloud their minds enough so that they forget and say or act in ways not congruent with the commitment they made to human life.
A good health worker does well to remember that in times when they forget why it is that they joined the medical field, these times are not definitive of their overall attitude towards health care. That these moments may only prove that we are in fact humans after all. We get tired, pissed, disgusted, discouraged and bored just like everyone else. These moments remind us that like every other human, we need a break every now and then, we need someone to cut us some slack and we need a pat on the back especially when we deserve it.
Don’t let the mundane take your eyes off the prize, the best quality health care. For when we focus on the dullness of the mundane, we risk losing sight of the more exciting most important things. We actually get to save lives. I sometimes in such moments of weakness think to myself that even if all I did was save lives, I’d still be pretty awesome. It is that noble a profession and it does not come cheap. It is merely doable on average and one may excel if they can afford to pay with their lives.
You may perform a cricothyroidotomy one day with only a knife, some vodka and a pen or relieve a tension pneumothorax with a 16G cannula to the second intercoatal space midclavicular line on another day but most days will just be plain. You may counsel a mother who brings in her baby with a diaper rash and prescribe bed rest for the common cold. And yet everyday you are extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to save lives.