Monday, November 29, 2010

What Makes It So Good

Morning "Number Two" time has the potential to be pretty significant around here. Mother Nature beckons to my dog, usually within 30 minutes of breakfast, and he firmly passes the word along to me in no uncertain terms, "You'll take me out now, if you know what's good for you." At that point, we bundle up, walk down the lane a dozen yards or so and on the way back, voila!

For him, this little outing is an aperitif, the main course being his walk in the afternoon. For me, it's an opportunity to let my brain unravel in the cool air. With this morning's unraveling, I think I may have finally figured out what makes the PASS Program work so well.

When I was a college student, immediately following high school, a friend told me, Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship. This describes the PASS Program perfectly. It's not a method of board preparation that can be circulated in manual form and purchased at your local bookstore, though they do employ various techniques as I've stated in other posts. Nor is it an approach that can be packaged and franchised like a businesses concept.
The heart of the PASS Program is reflected in the quality of relationships that develop between students and faculty and have the capability of taking us to the next level in our training. The word mentoring comes to mind.

But it's mentoring with a therapeutic twist. In psychotherapy, one may absorb a patient's experience and in the process, detoxify it so that a patient learns to live with their history without being overcome by it. Shame and discouragement have a nasty habit of accumulating, and in the life of a medical student, previously failed attempts at passing boards can result in one getting a heavy dose of both. Establishing relationships with physicians who are unashamed to admit their own frailties, and doing so while learning and thinking about medical science at the same time, is both empowering and liberating.

I suspect one of the reasons why I keep coming back to my experiences in Champaign in this blog is the enduring sense that I've been among some very special people. I admire those who are dedicated to building others up because there's so much in this world that endeavors to tear them down. When you've been in the presence of such persons, you come away feeling not only revitalized but more yourself. Had I attended the PASS Program a year ago, my life would be very different than it is now. Still, I'm not sure it would have been as meaningful to me as it has become after having been hammered twice by boards, and there's a great deal to be said for that. Some things only come along when we're ready and being ready is what makes it so good when they do.

(Photo copyright 2010 by the author)
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