A patient’s worst nightmare
The first two years of medical school, the preclinical years, teach students about disease in the abstract, as testable material. We detach ourselves from reality as we memorize a constellation of symptoms and treatments presented from a podium or a textbook. I have been guilty of occasionally forgetting that what I am studying may be a patient’s worst nightmare.
“We ask patients to take on risks in order to heal,” Cherie Fathy writes, “but we should never forget how overwhelming it is to hear those risks or to play those odds.” (Courtesy of Cherie Fathy)
As students on the wards, we see mere snapshots of our patients’ illnesses. We are there as patients receive a diagnosis in the clinic or a treatment in the hospital. What we don’t see is a patient at home deciding whether that lump is even worth checking on or a mother dreading when to tell her children what she has, or how to even begin telling them.