Health Professions Seminar
Konner, Melvin. Becoming a Doctor: My Journey of Initiation into Medical School. 416pp. I recommend this book because it gave me a vivid vignette into the life of a medical student, particularly during their rotations and internship. As I have had fears regarding medical school, and there seems to be a general aura of “wow, medical school sounds like it will destroy your life” or at least be inanely difficult. However, through reading this I was able to imagine myself in a similar situation to the ones he described and learned where I would do well and would have a more difficult time. My fear of the unknown was quelled by reading this largely narrative piece. His descriptions of his thoughts and perceptions of the other people he encountered are honest and realistic.
Savett, Laurence. The Human Side of Medicine: Learning what it’s like to be a Patient and to be a Physician. 256pp. I recommend this book highly, as it gave me a vicarious feel for what life as a medicine is like. It gave me a sense for what range of topics physicians regularly think about: the types of decisions they need to make, what are key questions they need to ask, ought they collaborate with another professional on a particular decision? Through reading this I also developed hope for the presence of physicians who take great care to notice humane aspects of medicine. Not to say that before reading this book I had a dismal outlook on how many physicians are warm, kind, compassionate people, but it encourages me regarding the direction of medicine, portraying a move towards medicine which is more sensitive to patients and gives them more respect and more wholesome care (paying attention not only to their body, but the rest of their life as well). He gives much practical advice on interact with patients on a “human” level, some of which is repeated throughout the book, but this ended up serving to strengthen my memory of those concepts.
1. What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good doctor (nurse or whichever is appropriate for you)? Why do you believe this?
As a physician, detail orientation is critical, partly thanks to the precision they need to have in writing patient notes after the time they spend speaking with the patient. Another reason for this is their need to fill out paperwork about many things, due to the legal status and potential implications of the work they do. Another characteristic of their work is contacting patients in follow up, which requires excellent organizational skills, especially when the number of patients one sees in a day may exceed 25. If attention is not paid to detail, then there may be incorrect diagnoses, as details mentioned by the patient that may seem minor to him may in actuality be critical for proper diagnosis. The repercussions of misdiagnosis could lead to other complications and symptoms, and simply prolong the healing process, causing more suffering and finances to be extricated from the patient.
Physicians must be sensitive to patients, otherwise the patients may feel disrespected, and a menagerie of other effects could trickle down from insensitivity which lead to poor healing. Having a negative attitude towards a patient may cause them to feel emotional stress, which can lead to further illness. The physician works to help patients heal, if he is behaving in such a way that leads to further disease a major problem has arisen. Compassion aids in recovery, and gives way to trust, which tends to yield greater sharing of detail on the patient’s behalf, which may lead to better diagnosis and care. Sensitivity creates an environment that is more enjoyable for patients to be in, and while they are suffering, any extra bit of joy that can be given to them proves valuable in helping them become better.
2. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
I want to become more humorous, and appropriately humorous. Another valuable skill of physicians is humor conveyed with skill, as this can help patients feel better as well. Though there are serious moments in which humor is inappropriate, there are other times which it proves helpful to deal with the gloom that often comes with disease, especially for patients with certain personalities. People tell me that I am humorous, but I struggle to make a joke when I sense that it’s appropriate or even important at a particular moment. I recall a moment where a friend of mine had just failed a chemistry exam, and as he sat down, on the verge of tears thanks to his effort studying that seemed to go to waste, I sensed that a joke about myself not doing too great on an exam might help alleviate some of the gloom. I didn’t think of anything, but simply continued to listen to him and affirm him.
I also want to become more openly collaborative in my studies. I tend to let my fear of being judged or viewed as unintelligent paralyze me from asking questions during class. My desire to study something independently and be able to figure it out on my own is flawed. I am learning the need for community in learning, and that learning is a communal act.
Finally, I would become one who gives out responsibility of mine to others more. As a resident advisor I find myself overwhelmed at having to plan events and dinners and fellowships in addition to my other commitments. Delegating out this work would help me keep from becoming burnt out, and also develop a stronger sense of interdependence between myself and those who I live with.
3. What are your hobbies or non-academic interests?
I enjoy swing dancing. When I came to Gordon College, I taught a number of my friends how to dance, and since they have created a swing dancing club. I swing dance at least once every couple of weeks, and I have taken classes at a ball room at home. It’s fun, an easy way to connect with and meet new people, and dancing is something that a lot of people don’t do; this provides an easy way for people who “don’t dance” to learn. Plus, seventh chords strike my heart in a special way.
Reading, writing, and conversing are all pretty basic, but I enjoy doing them, and find much value in them.
4. Considering your academic career, if you could have done anything different in your education, what would it be?
I would have taken a gap year between high school and college to settle my interests a bit more, as well as create a more coherent plan for my four-year schedule at Gordon.
During high school and middle school, I would have studied significantly more, and turned everything in on time, and worked and studied with my peers and professors more closely. This would have set habits in me which would prove useful and fruitful through to this day. I have had to learn these skills of time management and studying in college, and that has been an extra step which has made stellar academic performance more of a struggle than it would have been if I came into college with a basic set of those skills.