Have a Little Faith
Grace Yu Yi Gu
March 20th, the Monday after match week. I finally went back to my medicine rotation. The spirits of fourth year medical students were high in the medical student lounge. Everyone had genuine smiles on their faces, congratulating each other and sharing where their careers would be taking them in July. It has been a long four years full of challenges and everyone had a lot to be proud of.
I had a different mood entering the hospital that day. I felt like I had a dark cloud hovering over my head. I was the medical student who did not match. The worst part was that I knew my colleagues had already heard the news through everyone else. That kind of news spreads like wildfire; it's one of those things you can't hide, so the only thing to do is to accept and let it go.
I still remember the piercing silence as I opened the lounge door, how my colleagues looked at me as if I was a wounded soldier.
"Make no eye contact," I said to myself. "Just grab your lunch and go."
At that moment, I felt honestly defeated and wondered if going into medicine was the right path for me.
It was during that same day that I bumped into one of my patient's family members in the crowded, bustling cafeteria. He looked pale and sat silently, eyes to the ground. I could instantly tell we were having similar days. His ninety-year-old mother had been admitted for COPD exacerbation again; second time in thirty days. He knew this time was different. She was already on maximum doses of steroids, antibiotics, and bronchodilators. Nothing was helping. My attending had told him to prepare for the worst because things were not moving in the right direction. With tears in his eyes, he said felt alone and did not have anyone to turn to. I knew at that moment we needed each other.
I was there to support him at a heart-wrenching time. I knew that sitting and talking with him meant the world to him. I was able to console him and tell him that everything happens for a reason. I saw his love for his mother everyday. He would always be there during morning rounds and stayed late into the evening. I told him that he has been such a wonderful son to his mother. His eyes lit up and smiled. He thanked me for being kind and thoughtful.
I felt as if I had made a positive impact on his life and that gave me comfort. His gratitude gave me a sense of purpose. It was exactly what I needed to get me through the day. I believe that encounter was meant to happen. It was life hinting to me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Author's Note: "I recently failed to match into residency and went through a really difficult period. I questioned whether going into medicine was the right choice for me. Writing this narrative piece helped me cope with the situation. This particular patient encounter was really special to me and I hope to share it with others.