When Patients Have More to Offer Than You Do

Year 2 of medical school is underway and so is “Physical Diagnosis 3” or PD3. PD3 is the part of our curriculum where medical students are thrown into the hospital and practice doing full physical exams and patient histories on REAL people with REAL problems. It’s wonderful practice–especially because we practice presenting patients at the end of the day. Practices like these are supposed to make the transition to third year (beginning of clinical years) less traumatic!

I have seen some incredibly kind people willing to teach me about their ailments. I honestly cannot believe that a man with a partial lobectomy a few days ago (tumor size of his fist on lobe of right lung) was willing to chat with me about why he was in the hospital. A man who literally has to power up his heart with an LVAD before getting a new heart was open to let me listen to his heart. Then, a few minutes later going upstairs to talk to a man who recently received a new heart–filled with so much hope for the future.

A couple married for 55 years (it was their anniversary) let me “entertain” them by doing a physical and learning about his ventricular tachycardia. I watched a man–so devoted to his wife tell us about how amazing she is as she recovers from a massive stroke that keeps her from speaking clearly. She speaks English, Russian, and Spanish all fluently. Apparently she is also a “gourmet” cook! They have such a journey ahead of them, but he isn’t letting her go.

In the next room, a man with a 16 year history of Parkinson’s Disease’s wife (with COPD herself and hooked up to oxygen) was the perfect historian. Although in her 80s she recalled his complicated medical history with ease even when he had difficulty telling me himself.

In all these situations, I feel this sense of guilt. I have nothing to really offer these patients (besides entertainment if they are bored). Honestly, they are usually resting. They have so much more to offer me. As a friend mentioned to me today, what helps with the guilt is realizing that pretty much every doctor when they were a student had very little to offer to their patients medically. But, I do this, we do this, so we can learn to serve people like them one day.

So, this is a shout to all the patients that let me listen to their hearts, gather their histories, and ask very personal questions that are not really my business—but open up their lives to me so that one day I can truly serve them!

Additional Things Shakin’ in My Life…

1. Zumba-ing (good for the heart, yo)

*No picture but you can just imagine it*

2. Trying new foods and attending an Egyptian festival

Yummm at Miega Korean Restaurant
The food crew!
Beautiful St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church

3. Diving into Romans

Alrighty, back to work!


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