Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day of Days

Caduceus inside the USS Yorktown

Well, this is it, the day of days, when most of my entering classmates learn where they'll spend the next four years in residency training. I admit to sitting on pins and needles and I'm not even involved, except as a highly invested bystander. These are my friends and I want them to be happy. We've worried our way through exams together, helped one another cope with stress, and gotten close in ways we couldn't have expected when we began this journey.

I'm not certain we consciously intended to build community, but that's how it has worked out. We had older students, younger ones, several connected with the military, many from New England or the East, a few of us from the West. It wasn't as though there was any one thing that you could say we had in common aside from the desire to become doctors.

We were challenged, though, on the first day of orientation, to resist the temptation to compare grades, and instead of viewing the successes of others as a threat to our own, embrace them as representative of our class as a whole. The real world of medicine, we were told, depended on collegiality and now was as good a time as any to begin practicing it.

I'm going out on a bit of a limb here, but I have an idea that we've enjoyed medical school more because we took those words to heart. This is just my observation, but I've been observing us fairly closely for the past four years and I really believe we discovered that by supporting and encouraging one another, we've gone further as individuals than we might have otherwise. The lone wolf mentality is fine for premeds but once we're in the pressure cooker of medical school, it helps to have someone pull you out of the water once in a while.

To what extent we'll be able to maintain our communal identity over time remains to be seen. We've done fairly well with most of us rotating whole states away from campus. Now that residency is upon most of us, the distance will continue, but I honestly think we've impacted one another in ways that will have lasting effect. We came here for an education and we'll come away having become part of something far deeper and more profound. We'll come away having become part of each other and that is simply amazing.

(Creative Commons image by cygnus921 via Flickr)
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