Well, it's been about 10 days since my last post – so I'll get rolling again with a "Doogie Howser" philosophical entry.
Meeting with a medical student about her career choices last week, I was reminded once again that making a decision about what to do for the rest of our lives is no easy task. I'm not sure when I decided to be a family physician, but I think it was before medical school. In my student's case, I was struck by how she had so much insight into her need to "feel important."
Rounding on the nephrology service, she felt important because she was "the expert." Other physicians asked for help .. which made the nephrologists important. The same thing happened on Surgery, Infectious Disease, etc.
Yet this student does so well listening to (and really hearing) her patients that she has also been drawn toward primary care and psychiatry. Yet these specialties don't feel so important to her .. she doesn't see the primary care physician as the expert.
I was struck by how clearly and honestly she could express this to me. Many other students struggle with this .. and I often find the ones who can express this need to be important and be the expert are the ones who need it the least.
Removing a wayward q-tip from a patient's ear this morning … I felt less important than simply helpful. Yet this is what our work is about .. and indeed, we must maintain our humility. I counseled the medical student that the initial thrill of feeling important wanes as time marches on.