Dear Future Physician,
I am not sure how much my words will affect any decision you make as a doctor, but I wish you the best as you embark on a very admirable career path. Coming from a family filled with multiple autoimmune disorders and fractures of pretty much any bone out there I assure you that people are going to question you and have lots of them. So be prepared, be caring, and always get back to your patients when you say you will.
Our experience in the hospital, or should I say my experience began in 1991. Actually take it back a few hours on that blistery cold January day to my physician’s office. Dr. S., my pediatrician was a small, petite, caring woman in her late fifties. When she was unsure of what was wrong with me she quickly took me to the laboratory which was closing. When the laboratory technicians refused to help me she quickly took out the equipment and did the tests herself. Her knowledge amazes me to this day. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and quickly whisked off to the hospital shortly thereafter. My story and life with diabetes most certainly doesn’t end there but Dr. S. played an important part in my young life and I might not be here today if it weren’t for her. So one of the wishes I have for you is to take the time to show your patients that you care. Sure, I was scared but it was because of the courage and determination that night that got me through the next few hours. I arrived at North Shore University Medical Center Emergency Room late at night. Please remember not to shine any bright lights in a child’s face while you’re trying to access a vein and insert an IV. It will not only hurt there eyes but make them cranky. I don’t ever recall a time in my life that I was so cranky except for when that evil physician shined that light ever so bright right into my beautiful, brown eyes. After a child asks to use the bathroom don’t tell them “NO” – oh no, that means they really have to go. And most of all don’t poke and prod me at an early morning hour without introducing yourself as “Dr. So and So”. Nothing is worse than not knowing your doctor’s name. Oh and when my parents say, “Thank god it’s not cancer” don’t tell them your right you should be thankful it’s not cancer because that fourteen year old girl standing beside my bed will be diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in three short years.
The next experience takes place in… you’ve probably already figured that out. A Hematology/Oncology Floor at the Children’s Hospital down the street,Schneider's Children's Hospital. Picture yourself standing over your patient’s bed; now guess who the patient is. That’s right that girl who was standing next to my bed as my parent’s expressed that they were thankful it wasn’t cancer. The only lesson I can tell you now is, Don’t tell the seventeen year old girl that she belongs in the Psych ward with the Anorexic patients when she is upset after a break up with her “first love” in the Bone Marrow Unit. Some things are meant to be left unsaid future physician, and that would be one of them. THINK before you speak to your patient, patient’s family members, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.
Our Journey most certainly does not end there future physician but I believe that as long as you show that you care and think before you speak you’ll do just great. Don’t worry about those broken femurs (yes, both the cancer and diabetes patient broke their legs within six months of each other) in our life story just remember to answer questions and be hopeful even when the situation isn’t! If you become someone’s “Dr. S.” you’ll be highly regarded in life and always highly thought of. God Bless and I will pray for you as you embark on this journey!