and how are you feeling today?

Yesterday two colleagues and I went to the wards after classes were over to take a case. Normally we go during the day and we have our backpacks and books, and the wards are filled with students like ourselves. But this time it was just us, a few doctors here and there on afternoon rounds, and nurses. We had our stethoscopes around our necks and notebooks to take a proper case history. Of the three of us, I felt the most confident about taking the case, but even I didn’t know very much. Something about being there at a time when there weren’t very many other students and being there in the capacity of doctors rather than students made me feel somewhat overwhelmed by the whole experience. I felt like I was playing a game of dress-up, not much different from a six-year-old girl wearing her mother’s high heels or a 10-yr-old boy carrying around his father’s briefcase. It was an awe-inspiring experience, one that made me determined to learn everything I can to become the best doctor I can be. I came home and wrote this poem. Enjoy!

White coats parade through the blinding corridors
Some have faces perched on top
others with patent leather shoes polished to perfection
pink and blue and green scrubs shout orders
codes and meds and labs and scans echo
rattle the walls
Hospital gowns wheel loyal oxygen tanks and IV stands through days and nights filled with coughing and fevers and flat lines
Friends stop coming
Families are too afraid to look
But beds are always full
Every oxygen mask stuck to a nose and mouth
Eyes filled with anguish, faces pale and empty
Those eyes, those faces, turn to me
Grasping hands and speechless mouths plead for answers and ask for hope
But I am not yet a white coat
Nor am I a set of happy pink scrubs
I carry a stethoscope and put my ear to a chest
I dream of hearing answers and solutions and dreams and hopes and souls
But I do not yet have the key
So I hear life
And air
Soon I will feel a wrist and thoughts will come
But for now I walk the blinding corridors
And feel the walls shake
I see masks and tanks and stands and gowns and hands and questions
And I stand in awe
An impostor
A guest
Or perhaps just a traveler
Starting out on a journey
To nowhere and everywhere


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