I am not a medical student yet, but as a pre-med student, I am on the path. I have significant experience in health care. The more exposure to medicine and the more I learn, the more certain I am that I have chosen the right career for myself. In fact, I already know that I want to become an Emergency Medicine doctor and I’ll tell you why.
My experience with medicine began as a child spending many hours of my formative years in my parent’s office in a community hospital in a small rural town in Maine. Many nights during the wee hours my mom would wake me up and take me to the Emergency room because I couldn’t be left home alone.
As a young adult, I have experienced patient care by spending time with local doctors and shadowing them. I also spend many hours at my job as an EMT while I continue my full-time coursework at Oregon State University where I am majoring in Biohealth Science.
I know that you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. This might sound simplistic, but there’s a reason why you put on your oxygen mask before attending to small children. Your patients deserve a doctor who is level-headed. You need to put yourself in a position to be able to think quickly and make sound decisions. Self-care is more than taking care of just the body and its functionality. You must also take care of your mind. I focus a great deal as an undergrad on developing routines for keeping my body and mind healthy. Self-care that I engage in includes meditation and guiltless naps whenever I feel the need.
I consider self-care to be part of preventative medicine. You need to store energy when you can to be able to perform well. It is the same for practicing physicians to prevent burnout.
I want to emulate my mother, but there are also definite patterns that I will consciously avoid. While growing up I never saw my mother take a nap, or practice any degree of self-care. Her generation of women in medicine believed that they should be able to be dedicated medical providers, mothers, chefs, and great wives. She was selfless and empathic to a fault. Her goal was to perform each of her roles in life to perfection all at the same time. While I could see the joy she experienced from caring for her patients, she also lived her life on the edge of burnout.
I will have confidence in my hard-earned knowledge and skills when working in the emergency department. I will let my patients see this confidence to reassure them. As a physician, your demeanor can not only calm and reassure your patient, but it can have the same effect on members of your medical team. My mother always displayed confidence and a calm demeanor while assessing the situation and making all of the necessary requests of the staff. I got the impression that they saw her as the team leader. I saw this result in good outcomes from scary situations, with everyone involved feeling secure and appreciated.
As a medical student, I expect to find myself in some pretty scary situations. I will always aim to remember to be calm and project confidence. I won’t be too proud to ask for assistance. And I’ll always remember my mother’s sage advice, “Show the nurses and staff that you appreciate them, for your team will be more successful and your patients will receive the benefit.”