“Follow the lead of your symptoms, for there’s usually a myth in the mess, and a mess is an expression of soul.’’ James Hillman
When I first begin my journey to medical school I envisioned the experience as being quite different then what it has become. Throughout the course of learning medicine, I have always tried to understand my innate need to practise medicine.
My reasons to practise medicine have varied from time to time. There is only one constant which is as my life experiences grew and became more unique, so did my passion of medicine.
As an undergraduate student, I wished to do more in my individual battle against vitiligo. Initially it was my own personal struggle with a skin disorder which drew me to medicine. A continuous battle to try to control my erratic and rapidly progressing vitiligo led me to experiment with many different therapies. After years of using historically prescribed pharmacological therapies, nutritional adjustments in my diet and a desperate attempt at Ayurvedic treatments, I was successful in treating my vitiligo through the use of an off labeled prescription drug. It was a journey that had required an immense amount of research and education about medicine, pharmaceuticals and dermatological conditions.
Later, as a family member witnessing illnesses of someone dear to me, I felt both powerless and intrigued to constantly learn about the latest advancements in medicine, healthcare and pharmacology. As I watched my grandmother be admitted to the hospital for dehydration and hyponatremia and ultimately, suffer a stroke in hospital. I learned that although she was a mitral valve replacement patient, she was not on a blood thinner at the time of her stroke. This experience taught me that the importance of learning drug indications, dosages, diagnosing pathologies and evaluating co-morbidities are not just skills we must learn to complete the board exam I was studying for at the time or to obtain a medical degree; as physicians the decisions we make have long-lasting, permanent effects on our patients, the slight alteration of drug regimen or a delayed reaction in diagnosing a condition has implications that can be life-altering.
As physicians, these decisions can never be taken lightly, they have the ability to be both beneficial or detrimental to our patients. Perhaps most importantly, from a medical perspective what I learned from my grandmother's passing 6 weeks post-stroke was that in a field that is ever changing, our responsibility to keep learning never ends.
The impact of learning new pharmacological therapies gives us the opportunity to prolong the quality of life and lifespan of our patients. The notion of a successful new clinical trial means that our patients may have a new opportunity to battle an old disease.
Finally, as a medical student I have come to the realization that my power as a physician will not stem from the years I spend learning medicine, rather it will come from the years of experience, I will accumulate. Experience which can only be strengthened through the ability to want to continuously educate oneself. And so, I choose to pursue a career in Medicine because of my need to learn about different concepts in Healthcare and continuously educate myself.
Ultimately, it has occurred to me that my interest in medicine is not limited to one event, one disease or one anecdote. My interest in medicine and my pursuit of practising medicine is an extension of the immense responsibility I feel to provide patients with the best care possible.
It is my opinion that the best care possible today varies drastically in comparison to 10 years ago, and similarly, the optimal care in 10 years will vary from the care we provide today. This is medicine, it changes, and so to should the healthcare we provide based on geographical regions, population trends and patient needs; as physicians it our duty to adapt to these conditions.
I strive not only to provide my patients with the highest degree of care but I aspire to work towards the future of medicine — medical research. It is my goal to practise medicine whilst making a life long contribution to improving healthcare and medicine by engaging in processes that may aid in eliminating the medical puzzles that have long perplexed us.