13 January 2011

I can do that?!

Some days I stop to think about what I am learning in medical school, what people are going to trust me to do when I leave this building soon and I am actually frightened.  EMT work was much less disturbing because in general, the people I could kill were already dead and I was not in the chair where the buck stopped.  But now, I'm going to be able to prescribe doses of medications that could become toxic before I see you again and some other doctor will be trying to figure out what went wrong.  Give drugs which will hopefully help but may irreversibly damage your heart, your kidneys or your liver.  Hold your infant when he is still covered with amniotic fluid and needs life-saving medications.  Try to stamp out the cancer that is slowly taking over your body by poisoning you with radiation. Of course I'm not going to do all those things, but the possibility is real.

I want to remember the feeling of awe I have right now.  I've never really felt like physicians held overwhelming responsibility or a position of great status, but I don't know how I'm going to meet the standards society expects.  I know that no physician starts out making all the right decisions, that is why we have such long training periods during which everything is reviewed and nit-picked to the finest detail.  As I'm accumulating textbook knowledge and seeing the science as more and more feasible to master, the next uphill battle is looking mighty steep.

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