The first patient I ever saw by myself was in an emergency room. Sweet, confused, willing to tell me about her UTI. I looked at the history and physical format the ED physician wrote out for me like it was magic, and entered the patient's room and heard her story fully conscious of the responsibility with which I had been entrusted. I hadn't even applied to medical school yet.
The first patient I ever saw in medical school was fake. A college boy, paid $20 by the medical school to sit in a room while I asked him about his health history. He was awkward. I was awkward. I don't know how the preceptor didn't burst out laughing.
The first baby I ever saw born was an adorable boy. Born in the fall of my first year. I stood in the corner and watched life come into the outside world and nearly cried with happiness. I also promptly got lightheaded and nearly passed out as soon as the doctor and I left the room.
The first patient I ever diagnosed was the summer between first and second year. A baby with a lacy rash and a fever. 5th disease. "It might be something else," that ED physician said, after I looked too excited over having actually figured it out. (It was sheer guesswork, which is why I was so thrilled.)
The first patient I ever properly worked up was an elder with atrial fibrillation. "Look what you found now," said my preceptor, and I stared at the EKG in amazement because look what I'd just made happen because I'd recognized something during the exam.
The first patient I lost was another elder with fibrillation that had led to a stroke. I watched him come, watched him rally, and watched him fade, while his family stayed at his bedside and talked to me in ways I could never forget. I watched his breathing change, and I was grateful that his family was with him when he finally died.
The patients I see after this will be truly my patients because I now have the degree that says I am a doctor. But the patients who taught me over the past
|morning view from one of the many hospitals at which I've rotated...not one where any of my first patients above were admitted. XD|