My guest author is Dr. Ina Gilmore. Dr. Gilmore is a former Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine physician who knows caregiving as a medical professional, and as a daughter providing care for her aging parents. She is founder of CaregivingWithPurpose.com. Her mission is to help caregivers more than survive – to thrive in caregiving. Her inspirational experiences will motivate you to study and give you real-world insight into becoming a doctor. -DonO
The young woman looked up nervously when I entered her hospital room. Her jet black hair sharply contrasted her pallid skin and gave her “Snow White’s” coloring. In her hospital bed, she looked small and alone.
On the oncology floor most patients were pale and fragile-looking, usually with a diagnosis of cancer or anemia. Whenever someone about my age was admitted it was a shock. My heart went out to her as I realized she had a devastating disease. And when she raised her deep blue eyes to mine, I saw only fear.
She stiffened, reminding me of a deer frozen in a car’s headlights. And I recognized that feeling, because I’d been living with it since starting clinical rotations in medical school. Some professors even thought it was funny when I froze when confronted by a question. While my fellow students enjoyed the limelight of “being a doctor,” I preferred not being the center of attention. On one rotation I was described as “quietly efficient.”
My heart went out to this girl, and in that moment I realized something profound. I could help reduce her fears and concerns. And while her hospital stay might not be completely pleasant, she needed someone she could trust. Me.
My nervousness left as I sought to comfort her. After introducing myself, I sat in a chair next to her bed, because standing next to her would be intimidating, and my goal was to relieve her suffering, not add to it.
I began taking her medical history. Her muscles relaxed and her voice became stronger as we chatted. I even got her to smile a little. Before each step, I carefully explained what came next in the exam and then described the tests she had scheduled.
As I left to complete my paperwork, I realized this was THE moment.
- Not when graduating medical school…
- Not when writing my first prescription…
- Not even when wearing my intern’s white coat for the first time.
This was the moment I became a doctor. Her doctor.
Being a physician is more than a degree, more than the science. It is an art requiring skill, practice and patience. I want to personally encourage you, as a premed about to embark on this path, to plant firmly in your mind that there will be a moment, your moment, when you become a doctor.
That moment will make everything else worthwhile.
Dr. Gilmore writes regularly on the topic of caregiving. Her post on Caregiving With Purpose shows Alzheimer’s disease from the patient and family’s perspective on physicians. It’s meant to enjoy and uplift. You can find it at “How Can Caring for Someone With Alzheimers Test My Patience?”