The hospital is where, as a medical student, you transform from an unwilling apprentice of sorts to a practitioner. The shorter the white coat, the less skilled you are. Medical student white coats are more like short dinner jackets in white polyester with patches and emblazoned logos clearly demarcating you are “in training” or a “student” to anybody within 50 feet of your jacket.
The hospital is where you learn the art of medicine after 2 years of basic science instruction and apply the science to the art. It is where we learn the last 2 years of medical school to care for those who cannot care for themselves and the art of the history and physical exam and minor procedures and watch one, do one, teach one.
The hospital is where we deliver a baby for the first time, assist in surgery, watch a frozen section being made for the first time or run within the halls of to get products from the blood bank. It is where the “midnight menu” means either a late dinner or an early breakfast and where you watch your first code and see the end of life perhaps for the first time.
The hospital is also where your first disagreements on a professional level with colleagues, chairs, allied health medical professionals, families and friends occur for the first time when trying to balance the needs of the patients against your own and theirs for that matter.
The hospital is where life begins and life ends and your career at times balances precariously between your professional and personal interests and what life may mean to you. As students, residents, fellows and attendings, we strive for quality against costs, policies, procedures, hierarchies, administrations, peers and foes alike.
The hospital is where physicians begin their career, slowly becoming among the 40-60%, depending on the survey, that wish, had they chosen medicine, they would choose another specialty or in some cases, another career.
The hospital is where I diagnosed my first disease. Led my first team. Saved my first life.
The hospital is where I learned to make difficult decisions on little sleep. The place I first saw a scalpel penetrate human flesh in the highly controlled environment of the operating room.
The hospital is where I watched the Emergency Room physician making his or her assessment of the trauma patient and where the Intensive Care Unit physician disrupts rounds to sit with the family of a terminally ill patient.
The hospital is where I have both cried over the death of a mother during childbirth and laughed at the miracle of speech after stroke.