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Third Year of Medical School – Professionalism and Poetry

Young woman doctor wearing mask looking at camera with other doctors (blurry) talking in background Editors’ Note: In their third year, students at Einstein take part in the Patients, Doctors and Communities course, in which they come together to reflect on and discuss what they’ve experienced on the wards. One of those students, Rachel Mirsky, shared a poem she devoted to the unique struggles she experienced. In her introduction to the poem, she wrote: “As a third year medical student you have to make choices every day at the hospital about where your time is best spent. Those choices are driven by a student’s desire to be a good physician and at the same time get a good grade. Do something for the patient or do something that is better for you? You hope that those actions overlap but that isn’t always the case.”

What Should I Do?

What is your job as an MS-3,
The answer to that stumps me.

You can sit with your team or your books,
In either case you may get dirty looks.

Don’t take your phone out to do some USMLE*,
For someone will assume it’s Facebook and not Anki**.

Could it be that you must be at the patient’s bedside,
But when you walk in all you hear is a sigh.

You can be entering to tell them good news or bad,
Or ask them a million more questions about their dead dad.

You don’t know if they want you to be there or not,
But if you are there by your team you may get forgot.

Where should you sit where you won’t be in the way,
And at the same time show you are eager each day.

You are told that you are an important part of the team,
But you may be what is making the resident scream.

So what truly is your purpose on the wards,
Is it to present, to write notes, or study for the boards.

We all know our goal is to get a solid evaluation,
Depending on your luck it could be praise or condemnation.

Why do we aim for grades higher and higher,
Well to be honest that is all the residencies desire.

They don’t see the hours of sleep we lost or the pages we read,
Or even the presentations that the attendings forgot we said.

When it comes down to the Match it is all about scores,
And you hope that you get the program you adore.

As for now we don’t know where we should spend our time,
In the library, the resident room, or putting in a line.

There are so many decisions and unknowns that we face each day,
But for now we don’t know so we might as well stay.

What I learned from this year is that we can’t win,
But we should at least try with our chin up and grin.

It sounds like we have accepted defeat,
But on the contrary we are still here and won’t retreat.

The only way to survive this year of stress and commotion,
Is to do what you can with commitment and devotion.

*USMLE = study questions for boards
**Anki = index cards used to study

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