On Dec. 2, Dr. Connie Mariano spoke at Purdue. As a Filipino-American woman and Navy Rear Admiral, she had unique stories to relate regarding her path to her position as The White House Doctor, the title of her book I’m reading over Christmas break. What I noticed most about her was that she conveyed confidence. Of all qualities, patients most want to see kindness, competence, and confidence in their physicians. She told of how she got the job after a short interview in which she simply declared her desire to give back to her country and to be “not a desk doctor…a trench doctor.” She had prayed for a sign and had received it upon entering the room: she had spotted a Band-Aid on the interviewer’s forehead and, recognizing his humanity, was able to approach the interview more confidently and thus appear at her best. She went on to serve nine years in D.C. and abroad, following and taking care of her “first patients.” The job gave her a special perspective on the physician-patient relationship; she advised that treating all patients as if they were the President of the United States would bring the best outcomes in patient care.
I have read about another great physician, Dr. Mark Pescovitz, whom I did not get the chance to know but whom many in the IUSM community knew to be outstanding in his many roles, including transplant surgeon, artist, and volunteer. He had a remarkable life story as well. It is told by his brother and in The Indianapolis Star.
A first-year friend during finals week shared with me some of the same thoughts and feelings I was having one year ago. If you are feeling burnt-out, be assured that next year will be better. A break, this Christmas and next summer, will restore your sanity and revive your passion for medicine. The more you learn about the fascinating details of diseases and see the patients who deal with them, the more you will love it. Get support from those around you, and be thankful for and attentive to the people in your lives today. As we learn from the news of Dr. Pescovitz, we cannot be certain that we will have one more day with our loved ones. Enjoy the holidays with your families; I am sure you have never felt readier for a break.