Apologies—this letter is rather presumptuous. To be honest, I’m not sure you’ll actually exist. We haven’t met yet. I have yet to earn my MD stripes. At the moment, I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that I’m actually getting into medical school—still mustering up the courage to go through five? ten? more years of hard work.
To be honest, I’m anxious. I’m about to embark on a training program that will allow me to hold a human heart in my hands, to deliver a living child into this earth, to transfer vital organs from one human being to another. I feel the responsibility weigh against my shoulders heavier than ten elephants. I haven’t done anything as important as this. I’m a very small person in a very big world. Future Patient, you might be concerned at this point. If I’m this much of a wreck, how am I supposed to be your physician?
Dear Future Patient, this is may come as a shock to you, but even doctors are human. I’m not entirely sure about everyone (who knows?) but I, certainly, am human. I have feelings. I have moods. I have perspectives.
My humanity, however, will not keep me from becoming a better doctor. In fact, I’m hoping that my humanity will help you as much as my medical training will. I know how much parents can worry over their child (hi Dad and Mum!). I know how embarrassing those first few years of puberty can be. I know how frustrating a knee injury can be. I know how the little things can seem so big. I know how difficult it is to lose someone so suddenly.
I know what it means to be human, and I am not inclined to forget.
If anything, I promise to stay human (unless aliens abduct me or I, for some reason, require a mechatronic heart).
I promise to see you as human.
I only ask that when I do stand before you as your physician, that you’d see me the same way.