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Primum non nocere

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Tomorrow is my white coat ceremony.

Tomorrow, I take the Hippocratic oath. I don the short white coat of the medical student. I take the first real steps to becoming a doctor and, more importantly, a healer.

(Aside: it’s a shame that Penn doesn’t allow students with doctor parents to be coated by their parent. I would’ve loved for my mom to do the honors, considering the ways in which her and my dad’s lives as physicians and parents have inspired my love of science and my drive, ultimately, to help others. However, she did give me the wonderful gift of an incredible stethoscope this evening. I was more touched than I let on.)

It’s strange, because it feels simultaneously so important and so meaningless. Wearing a coat doesn’t mean I magically know all of anatomy. It doesn’t mean I can respond to a medical emergency on an airplane. It certainly doesn’t make the decision of choosing a specialty, whenever that happens, any easier.

However, it does mean I can walk through the halls of HUP with the knowledge that it is now an institution of learning for me and my classmates. It ties me inexorably to my classmates in the shared experience of medical student-hood. (All of whom, by the way, are fantastic and fascinating and beautiful and intelligent in their own right. I find that they embody the true essence of “kindness”, not only simply nice but also part of the greater human community.) It marks the beginning of a frightening, busy, unbelievably awesome (also in all senses of the word) phase of my life. I will have taken an oath nearly as old as the healing profession itself. Though it has thankfully changed with the times (a bit less threatening, and more accepting of abortion, now), the concept is the same. I will promise to dedicate the remainder of my life to the healing of others – in my case, both at the bedside and the bench.

And I’m so fucking scared.


Written by calculusgirl

August 12, 2011 at 2:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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