Perseverance

A bit of a short entry this week everyone. Suffice to say that I'm only four weeks into this trimester and I'm spent. After three years of classroom instruction, I'm tired of sitting in class and listening. Fifteen weeks of intensity followed by two weeks of absolute nothing, repeated 12 times and three more cycles of this before graduation. I revel in the lab time we have between our simulated patients, physical therapeutics lab and observation in the clinic.

Yet, each time that I feel that I have had enough and I'm ready to pack things in and return to the banking world, an unexpected event occurs that rattles me back to the reasons I entered this field.  

We had a simulated patient this week who presented with a chief complaint of depression. My lab partner (a chiropractic student) and I proceeded to take the case asking the usual questions and we noticed that the patient really wanted to talk. So, at that point, without any signal from each other, we simply started a conversation with our patient. We used phrases such as "Can you tell me a little more about this situation?" or "How does that make you feel?" Once we had the flow of conversation, we were able to hear the patient's history, understand where she was coming from, and determine the timeline of her depression, her history of medications, successes, failures, and how she feels in the present moment.

After the session, the simulated patient has the opportunity to give the students verbal feedback for about five minutes. She told us that she had never had students who were more genuinely empathetic and covered so much ground in the 45 minutes of the initial intake. All with a simple conversation. The relief I felt was profound!

I was coming directly from taking a quiz in the previous class that I was convinced I was ready for but ended up missing a couple of questions (not bad, a couple), yet I was ready to ace it! I was feeling like my best effort just wasn't up to par. Then immediately walking into a room with a patient who is presenting with depression and being able to make them feel heard, valued and optimistic that we could help her (without making any promises to her) reminded me that was why I am becoming a doctor - to help others regardless of the confidence, regardless of "having a bad day," to trust my training and my ability as a human being to connect with other human beings, and to get to the root cause of the illness, and next, working from that root cause to get the best outcome possible for the patient. That's a pretty good feeling! 

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Finally, I did a lot of work on the Gathering this weekend. I spent some hours building a slide show for the video display in our bookstore window. The slide show will display information on the Gathering, the symbols of the Gathering, its history and the speakers for this year. 

I was also able to complete one of the wreaths for display during the event on the stand I showed you last week. This wreath is for Dr. Gerald Farnsworth (one of our oldest surviving pioneer NDs who was part of the startup of NCNM) to place on the stand during the opening ceremony. That's right! The wreath has a big "E" woven into it and the "E" stands for Elder, and I'm grateful for the Elders of our profession who paved the way and built the model of connecting with other human beings. A noble reason for being a doctor, and more so, to simply be a good person.