“With great power comes great responsibility,” that quote from Spider-Man resonates through my head when I think about helping people. Going into the medical field you spend years of your life trying to perfect the craft of caring, and what’s more powerful than having lives resting in your hands? However, before you can start saving lives, you need to have the right intention. It pains me to notice that so many students are going into the health field simply because of money. I understand that money runs the world and is important but that’s not a real reason to pursue this. The healthcare realm is a very intense and emotional career area. You will be a part of amazing celebrations of life and come close to interactions with death. This is why making sure that you know what you’re pursuing and being passionate about it will help you get through the journey without realizing that you pursued the wrong dream.
The next bit of advice I can give is that you have to be prepared and ready to plan for every option, opportunity, and outcome. Physically, the best a physician can do is to learn. To continue learning throughout their life and to practice their knowledge. If new techniques in medicine are created, then explore them. One of the best parts about going into the medical field is that you never stop learning. This may be daunting to some but it’s exciting; you’re constantly kept on your toes. After all, even the patients that you will be treating will change. The human body doesn’t stay the same and differs with each generation due to socioeconomic and environmental factors. Therefore, shouldn’t health professionals be able to adapt, change, and evolve as well?
There is this idea of the medical world being very mechanical and individualistic. Most doctors view patients as if they were machines and try to repair or replace the broken, missing parts. They also tend to narrow their scope on a problem so much that they forget that they are dealing with a living being that interacts with and is part of an environment. Considering this, it’s important to treat your patient on a whole-body level. If their life is in danger and you know what the problem is, don’t solely focus on that one aspect of the issue. Think outside the box, after all the person you are dealing with isn’t a car. How you treat them can affect their life, outside of the hospital or clinic. As a physician, one has to keep this in mind.
I’m not in medical school yet but I’ve spent four years volunteering in different healthcare areas. What I’ve learned from direct interaction and observation is that caring for others can be stressful. It is extremely rewarding but it takes a toll. Mentally, you have to come to an understanding that even though you hold someone’s life in your hands, you have to keep a clear head. It’s okay to let emotions run their course throughout your system but you sometimes do not have time for that. That is why keeping a calm head, being mindful, patient and efficient will give you a better chance when it comes to helping someone.
It is also imperative that future physicians/health professionals take care of themselves first. If you aren’t with good health yourself, it’s going to be harder to help others. It also falls into that “practice what you preach” category which if you do abide by, can help you build more trust with a patient.
You also have to acknowledge that you are human. You will make mistakes. Unfortunately, they do not prepare you for this when you are in medical school. Yet, realizing that if you do make a mistake or something does not go the way you planned it, no matter how hard you tried, it is okay. Yes, it may cause grief and is a painful experience but it’s these experiences that shape us into better beings. We learn from our mistakes and they help us prepare better for the future. The fact that you gave it your best is what matters. Individuals in the health field aren’t magical wizards and when we fail, it’s important to have a support system and process in place. We are liaisons between health and disease and it’s crucial to be mindful of that.
Emergency medical care is a tricky area. You never know what kind of situation you will be in. This is why I stress again, from my perspective as an undergraduate student that by taking care of yourself, continuing to learn, and truly feeling passionate about helping others are three mandatory requirements to meet in order to successfully heal individuals.