Exactly one year ago today I put a brand new, bright, white coat on my shoulders. It was a relief, to have made it this far; exciting, to wonder of the journey that lay ahead; frightening, to think of the responsibility I would now carry, the burdens I would now hold.
The white coat ceremony is probably the happiest day of a med student’s (academic) life. You’re exactly where you wanted to be, have fought to be, for so long, surrounded by family and friends who have loved you, cherished you, supported you along your way. You have your feet in a lifelong profession and haven’t felt it’s pain yet. It’s romantic-from the speeches, to the cheers, to savoring an oath you’ve been craving, to the photos and hugs and big smiles. It’s a day to be remembered, forever. You get coated, with empty pockets, and then you work toward filling them up.
So one year, one year has passed since that day. I’m left wondering if I have changed-I think so, if I have learned-I hope so, if I have made the right decision-I know so. I’m left trying to remember how naive, relieved, excited, frightened I was. I’m trying to remember how, with it, I saw my first patient, how I took my first history, how I performed my first physical exam. The day I was first mistaken for a Doctor.
Sentimentality is important. It tells you how far you have come when you haven’t noticed because you were trying to make it through the day. It lets you know that progress happens even if you don’t notice the results right away. It shows you that each moment is worth it, for the day you can look back and say I did it.
A year older, a year hopefully wiser, and a year where I’ve learned some of the most beautiful lessons of life, love, and resilience.
On that note I’m going to end with how I began-
Healthcare is a basic human right. For me, to be given the opportunity to learn the human body, to share my knowledge with humanity, to impact a person’s life and in turn impact the people in their lives, to let them impact mine, is an absolute privilege. I do not, will not, take that for granted.
I am humbled and honored to embark on this lifelong winding path. This ceremony was more than just a white coat, it was an acceptance of everything that white coat represents. It was an acknowledgement of the responsibility I held, no longer only to myself, but to everyone around me.
Right now this coat (still feels) big and heavy-I pray for the day it’ll fit, InshaAllah.