Sunday, December 23, 2007

Words I'd use to describe med school: Honour

There are a number of words I'd use to describe med school. This blog post is the first of a small series I'll devote to expanding upon these words.


I've heard people joke about it before. "You know, you're lucky... as a doctor you're one of the few people who can get someone to to take their pants off for you within minutes of having met them!"

That's not necessarily always a fun thing, considering how unpleasant it is to perform a digital rectal exam on, say, a patient who has lost control of their bodily functions and hasn't showered in weeks.

But that borderline crude statement has a lot more to it than just humor.

Statements like that only scrape the surface of the depth of the honour it is to be able to practice medicine...something that we med students can occasionally tend to lose sight of when we are in the midst of 80-hour work weeks on the wards, or in our tenth 15-hour study day in a row, or when we've just been humiliated by a preceptor in front of both our colleagues and patients.

While I can use this blog to complain about finals or how much stress I'm feeling at times, I probably don't say enough that I do feel honoured to be a part of this profession.

There are so many ways in which this honour is revealed. Here are a few I can name:

  • Medicine: a profession to which people are willing to donate their bodies...their most personal possession....after they die. It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: a profession to which people are willing to give you a huge amount of trust just because you are a part of the profession. Depending on where you look, physicians may not be the #1 most trusted profession, yet around the world, they almost always fall in the top 10 (BBC: Doctors #1; Harris: Doctors #1; Ipsos Reid Canada: Top 5; Reader's Digest Australia: Top 10). It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: one of the professions in which there are so many sides and approaches to the common goal of health, and in which those various health professionals are starting to work harder to work together to achieve this goal. It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: one of the few reasons that a driver, though enraged by the thick of traffic, would still be willing to pull over. I've seen people grumble when a cop turns on the siren to whiz through a red light, but never when an ambulance has come through. It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: one of the few professions legally allowed to self-regulate by the Canadian government. It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: the reason why people will open up to me their deepest secrets, the greatest extremes of their emotions, their first and last moments on this earth...all because of my field of study. It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: one of the areas of study that thousands of the most intelligent university graduates fight for the chance to be able to enter every year. It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: one of the professions where you are able to call some of the most brilliant, accomplished, fascinating and devoted people your colleagues. It's an honour to be a part of that.
  • Medicine: one of the professions with a longstanding legacy throughout centuries, and is continually looking back into its history and deep into its future to better itself for the good of the patient. It's an honour to be a part of that.


Even if I could think of all the reasons why it's an honour to be studying medicine, I don't think all of them could be put into words.

That being said, I know I've missed some... if anyone is reading this and can think of some I've missed, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Rick Frea said...

Very interesting post here. It seems also that doctors are among the most respected members of the community.

Anonymous said...

Honour, yes... but mostly it's fun.

- The Prof Who Reads Your Blog

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

It seems there is a lot of griping in medicine these days. Griping about the pay, the hours, the stress, the hassles, the administrative paperwork, the patients, and on and on.

I know medicine isn't perfect and sometimes people just need to vent... but geez, physicians can sometimes be the worst advertisers ever for their profession.

So thank you for writing about the good stuff. It's good to be reminded that this is indeed a special calling.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and welcome to the aristocracy.

You're now in a profession that accommodates pretty much whatever personal and professional goals you can have are within reach. Your children are/will be born lucky.

Remember the debt to society and the marginalized that come with honour.

Toni Brayer, MD said...

In Medicine we get to experience the extremes of life, both within ourselves and in our patients. Thanks for a great post and good luck in your education and future.

smalltowndoc said...

Thank you. You have just listed enough reasons to feel proud about our profession, enough to motivate a person who is considering this career and enough reason to continue dedicating ourself to this profession-

lights n steel said...

Precisely! Another I think about often is that we are present at critial points in peoples' lives. The birth of a child. The death of a spouse. A diagnosis of cancer. Traumatic injuries. We may not like having to witness these things, but it is a privilage.

CountyRat said...

You're going to do well, VM.

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