“Well, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.” – Ron Burgandy – Spencer Evans, moments after receiving his white coat.
Wow. What a day. It’s going to be difficult to put into words what I’m feeling right now. The word that comes to mind, though, is “ecstatic,” but likely not because of why you may think.
We all have a different story pertaining to why we decided to become a doctor. Some of us heard a calling as a child. Others, maybe that came a little later. I was the latter. I decided to dedicate my life to healing during my junior year of college after a painful semester that included my parents separating and a deterioration in my health thanks to an autoimmune disease I’ve been dealing with since I was 14.
However, I was raised by two physician parents. So, I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. In fact, during my week of orientation leading up to our class’ climactic white coat ceremony, I felt like a bit of an outsider. So many of my classmates raved of an excitement stemming from childhood dreams finally manifesting, as well as an awe stemming from exploring an entirely new frontier.
I felt neither.
So, I spent my orientation trying to have fun (which, thankfully, wasn’t difficult as CU takes their MS1’s on a retreat into the Rocky Mountains) because I knew that these would be my last days of uninterrupted playtime for the next decade, rather than basking in the anticipation of starting medical school.
Don’t get me wrong, I am stoked to be here and can’t wait to become a doctor in 2023. I’ll just say that I wasn’t exactly expecting to get the feels during our matriculation ceremony.
But, oh, how I got the feels.
The surreality (that’s not a word, but it should be) started creeping in when our keynote speaker discussed the symbol of the white coat, and the responsibility with which it accompanied. And so, it finally hit me: I’m actually going to be entrusted with people’s lives.
This is cool. This is scary. This is real.
I hate downers as much as the next new-age-millennial, but I decided to become a doctor during that painful junior year semester largely because I felt that a lot of the world was, for lack of a better adjective, phony. I saw how much of my life was fundamentally based on impermanent phenomena.
Feel free to disagree, but, in my opinion, the least impermanent part of life is human connection. Somehow and someway, humans have evolved to develop a mutual feeling outside of themselves that can be felt for a lifetime. You may not be in touch with your best friend from kindergarten, but I guarantee that if you bumped into each other at the supermarket, you’d experience a happiness, blast-from-the-past elation, and, likely, a hug, that was exactly what you needed in that moment.
In medicine, there’s no messing around. Every day, you interact with human beings in their most vulnerable states. It’s you and another person making a real human connection. That’s it.
When I put on my white coat, I became ecstatic because I remembered that am entering a field that is fundamentally based on the most permanent phenomenon that I have discovered thus far in my new-age-millennial life.