Reflections for medical students.


Multiple forces have changed the face of medicine over the past few decades, and they can overshadow medical students’ – and our own – idealistic reasons for becoming doctors. New resident physician work hour regulations in the United States pose challenges to providing continuity of care and may diminish a sense of duty to the patient and “ownership” of his or her care. Changing dynamics of the doctor–patient relationship, practicing in locations with insufficient material or human resources, and poor access to care with resultant delayed treatment and advanced illness are additional reasons that can erode idealism and foster cynicism or disillusionment. As a psychiatry resident, most of the time that I spent with medical students was focused on clinical matters and less on personal and professional development. To counter this, I would spend some time with them on the last day of their rotation to encourage reflections and perspectives about practicing medicine. While I shared the following perspectives with my students, perhaps other physicians may find them meaningful. I am privileged to share them with colleagues and I welcome their additional insights. The doctor is trusted: As a medical student, I was writing a preoperative note for a patient and was left with a lasting impression when her minister approached the opposite side of her bed to offer a prayer. Here were two professions interconnected with a common goal of providing comfort. Like religious leaders, physicians belong to a time-honored profession built on trust. Patients come to doctors in a vulnerable state with the trust, belief, and expectation that they will be made better. They expose themselves physically and emotionally and may reveal intricate and private emotions, defenses, or memories. Patients with mental illness bare not their bodies perhaps, but their minds, before doctors whom they trust to cure or comfort and never harm. The doctor is prepared: Along with the esteem given to physicians by a trusting public comes great and permanent responsibility to be prepared to help when needed. I believe that in the eyes of the public, we are viewed as physicians first. From the day students become doctors, unless they become physically or cognitively incapacitated, they will in a sense always be “on call” for the rest of their lives. Even in retirement or while on vacation, they may be called to assist a physically or emotionally suffering person. I encourage students to retain basic first aid principles, bs_bs_banner Offi cial journal of the Pacifi c Rim College of Psychiatrists

DOI: 10.1111/appy.12117

Cite this paper

@article{Scarff2014ReflectionsFM, title={Reflections for medical students.}, author={Jonathan R. Scarff}, journal={Asia-Pacific psychiatry : official journal of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists}, year={2014}, volume={6 1}, pages={110-1} }