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Flashback Friday... remember that test I took back in March... my board recertification exam? * * * ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ......I passed! I retain my board certification for the next eight years. And I love you all for sending me good vibes, zen meditations and words of encouragement. The written test however is not the real test. Medicine is not multiple choice. Picking one of four letter options and then waiting 8 weeks to learn the outcome is not how we determine our preparedness. The real tests happen on a daily basis when...'ve done an hour of chest compressions but you can't stop because you know his 14 year old daughter is waiting on the other side of the curtain, have to explain the meaning of the terms metastatic, stage IV, aggressive and hospice to the young couple 6 weeks after they returned from their honeymoon, have to call the police and spend 4 hours being questioned because your 6 year old patient has gonorrhea (there's not many ways to acquire gonorrhea, and in a child it's usually sexual abuse), ...there's no heartbeat on the ultrasound, for the third time, amount of Narcan can reverse the amount of heroin your nephew injected, ...your schizophrenic patient presents for her 6th involuntary admission in the past 3 months because she has no insurance and can't afford the medications that stop the voices telling her to kill herself,, the surgeon and the oncologist must tell the patient that we have done all we can and there are no further treatment options available, ...the 18 year old who was drunk driving is now bed-bound, in diapers and suffering from seizures but is aware enough to know that his cousin and best friend died in the accident. Today, on paper, I passed. The test reminds us that there is still so much we do not know and that we must remain steadfast in our efforts to learn and improve. But in real life, the practice of medicine tests not only our knowledge and judgment but also our resilience, endurance, compassion, courage. It requires that we are at the same time realistic and optimistic, that we can convey both truth and hope. Medicine requires that we accept death as a part of life and that we understand that no matter how hard we work, or how hard we wish, sometimes we will fail. * * * A patient's wife once called me a lifesaver, after her husband of forty years died of sepsis while under my care. Astonished I asked, "How can you say that?" She went on to explain that I "saved her life" by providing her with realistic updates, by holding her hand when his condition was worsening, by letting her ask questions and reminisce and stay in his room after visiting hours had ended. The patient tested my knowledge and skill and helped me realize the limitations of medicines and machines. His wife reinforced my belief that we not only care for our patients, but their loved ones as well. As a bright-eyed, optimistic 15 year-old I decided I wanted to help people, like my dad, and teach people, like my mom. But the practice of medicine is so much more than I ever envisioned at 15 years old. We study hard and work hard to retain the honor and privilege of caring for your bodies and souls. We get tired, emotionally

drained, and discouraged. But we pick ourselves up, wipe dry our tears and move on to the next patient and family in need because we know the tests are coming and we have confidence and hope that each time we will pass.





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