Jessica C. Stuart

Dear Medical Student

Dear Medical Student,

I remember what it was like.

I remember what it was like the week before your clerkships begin, when you spend thirty minutes writing an email to the resident about how you’re excited to work with them, about how you’ve done cardiac stem-cell research and are interested in pursuing cardiology, and what can you do in advance, and oh, where should you meet the team on Monday morning? And they respond, “Great see you Monday 7 – Jack.”

Beginner’s Mind

Jessica Stuart ~

I paced in the hallway outside of the patient’s room, going over my mental checklist of items to do during the history and physical examination. Bringing in a paper list was discouraged; we were meant to “flow” through the exam “naturally.”

I stuffed my hands into the pockets of the white coat I’d received three weeks earlier, during the White Coat Ceremony for first-year medical students. Feeling around the deep pockets to make sure that I had everything I needed, I felt my left hand graze a cold metal reflex hammer with a sharp tip, used to test for nerve damage in the feet of diabetic patients. (Alternatively, it could be used as “a medieval torture device,” my mother had said the previous weekend, as I’d practiced my exam on her.) In my right pocket, I felt my tuning fork, blood-pressure cuff and ophthalmoscope.

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