As part of every core rotation, students are required to write a brief reflection paper about their experiences. I wanted to write about a sentiment I revisited during my OB/Gyn rotation – my need to be needed.
During my week on gyn-onc, we had a particularly difficult day with regards to the complexity of our operative cases. After fielding a page for one of the interns, I glibly noted a lack of vacant operating rooms to attend to everyone that week. The intern replied: “No! Miss *insert patient name* still needs me!”
I froze for a moment, not expecting her reply to be reminiscent of a sentiment that I hinged on as a pre-med. This “need to be needed” is a mentality that drives many towards medicine, and while it seems narcissistic at first, it’s a potent motivator I’ve lost sight of over the last few months while trying to master patient assessments and treatment plans.
While on Internal Medicine and Psychiatry, I could often use personal experience to better relate to my patients. I knew what the patient with strep throat was going through and how draining flu-like symptoms can be on one’s energy; however, as the only male student on a team of females in a rotation with only female patients, I was thrown into unfamiliar territory – and it was for the better.
I learned more than just OB/Gyn over the last two months. I learned to properly address feelings of safety and abuse at home. I learned to understand the “maternal instinct” between a mother and her newborn. I learned women of different cultures view the birthing process, having a family, and even fertility. I also learned that, akin to a wide receiver fumbling a Hail Mary pass, anyone who drops a baby during delivery risks negative style points. 😉 In short, I learned quite a bit more about medicine, but was surprised at how much knowledge I acquired regarding the general human condition.
I’ve encountered patients dealing with advanced gynecological cancers in their late 20s (merely a few years older than me) and others who sacrificed all the non-essentials so they would have enough money to provide their newborn with quality nourishment and healthcare. Time and time again, I felt oblivious to their circumstances. What does raising a family actually entail? What strain does a gynecological cancer place on a patient and her partner? Two months later, in spite of being a male, I feel that I have expanded my role to accommodate those obstetric and gynecology patients who need my reassurance. Or need more clarification on anti-contraceptives. Or even need a hand to hold while in active labor.
While I can’t say that I know what my OB/Gyn patients are going through, I now feel they have a legitimate reason to still need me. 🙂