The Heart of Medicine

I know I haven’t done many posts about PA school, but I am beginning to realize there is a lot to be said about the endless hours of lectures, labs, physical exams, studying, and testing. I am currently in my 4th quarter of PA (Physician Assistant) school and finally feel like I am getting a handle on the balance of sleep, school, friends, blogging, and my faith. Every hour of every day of every week is a whirlwind of lessons to be learned about flexibility, constancy, selflessness, compassion and that’s not even taking into consideration the amount of material we are filling our brains with about pharmaceuticals, disease states, first line treatments, and diagnosis criteria. PA school is a constant inundation of facts and figures, but there are so many heart lessons to be learned and discovered in the process.

The struggle isn’t that we’re trying to condense the workload of medical school into a shorter time frame.
The struggle isn’t that we’re spending all our time in class learning and all our time out of class studying.
The struggle is that we’re human beings, prone to fail, fall short, and make mistakes.

Because we are humans, we need to repeat mistakes, fall flat on our faces, and get hurt sometimes to learn and grow. I can’t sufficiently learn the art of flexibility until I’ve been tested and tried countless times in a variety of situations and circumstances. I can’t begin to fathom the art of selflessness until I’ve seen countless professors take time out of their busy work weeks to discuss, teach, and demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge and skills to each student in our program. The lessons I learn in the classroom are important and will hopefully one day save lives or at least positively impact individuals and their health in a big way. But the lessons I learn about life, living in community, and demonstrating selfless service are of even greater importance. Practical lessons of the heart will prepare me for what lies ahead in the pursuit of my calling to become a physician assistant. 

Learning to maneuver through the challenges and triumphs of life with grace and humility, that is what will carry me through. Head knowledge lets me know that you treat animal bites with Augmentin and that a Colles’ fracture may injure the Median nerve, but heart knowledge teaches me how to treat patients with compassion and equity. The goal of PA school is of course to graduate, pass the PANCE, and become a credentialed practicing physician assistant. However the motivation behind that goal is to serve, to use my skills and head knowledge to educate, care for, and embolden people to take ownership of their health.

I constantly have to preach to myself that grades do not define me and my performance does not quantify my worth. PA school is grueling, y’all. However, the challenges make the triumphs and a-ha moments that much more meaningful. If you are in PA school, med school, nursing school, MA school, EMT school, etc., know that the countless hours you are putting in are not in vain. One day that knowledge will be used to transform lives and save patients. We have a weighty responsibility as members of the healthcare field, but the lessons learned in selflessness, constancy, sympathy, and compassion will set us apart from the rest of practitioners and allow us to serve patients in love.

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