Call Me (Im)Patient
Let me introduce myself: My name is Alexandra Sowa, I am twenty-four years old, and although I have only one year of medical school beneath my short white coat, I am absolutely ready to be a doctor. Forget second year - bring on the wards, the patients, and the title of “Medical Doctor!”
Before you assume that I am some cocky, over-zealous second-year, please give me a chance to explain.
When I was a little girl, waiting in line at the grocery store with my mother, an older woman cooed at me: “My, you are a pretty thing. How old are you?” Without missing a beat, I replied: “I am a sixteen-year old, trapped in this five-year-old body.”
I genuinely thought that the years I spent under five feet was some sort of cruel mix-up (I am now 5’6", just in case you were wondering). Don’t get me wrong - I had a wonderfully happy, fairly normal childhood. (I say fairly normal, because my mother was a bit of a hippy and didn’t believe in feeding me processed sugar. I didn’t know what a cookie was until kindergarten). I just wanted to move forward and do the next exciting thing. While some might argue that childhood is exciting, ask yourself this:
Would you rather learn how to drive a car or play in a dirty sandbox? Although I was young, I was not stupid. Driving a car = fun. Playing in a dirty sandbox = not fun.
This has always been a problem of mine. When I was in 8th grade, I decided I was bored with middle school. So, I did as any logical thirteen-year-old would do: I opted to home-school for a semester and enrolled in classes at the
Although some might label me with a “too big for your britches” syndrome, I don’t ever think that I’m too good for my current situation. Rather, I’m just so excited for the next stage that I can’t stand the wait.
This summer, I have been exposed to some amazing stuff at NYU Medical School, ranging from beautifully complicated reconstructive procedures in the operating Room at Tisch Hospital to profoundly moving physician-patient interactions in the clinics at
And let me tell you: I am in love. You know the feeling – the weak in the knees, butterflies in the stomach, can’t stop smiling – type of love. Sadly (especially for my grandmother), I am not falling in love with a man, but with the profession of medicine.
This may seem counterintuitive, considering I have already committed years of my life to pre-med classes, MCAT studying, medical school interviewing, and last, but definitely not least, an entire year of medical school.
However, while immersed in the culture of medicine this summer, away from the books, the cadavers, and the stress, I discovered that I actually want to be a doctor – not a make-believe, far-off in the distance doctor, but the real deal.
I recently read Treatment Kind and Fair: Letters to a Young Doctor, by Dr. Perri Klass, a pediatrician at NYU, and came across a passage that made me realize why my revelation was so delayed.
“Medical training is transformative, I promise you that when you come out of training, you will in some sense divide the world into doctors and non-doctors, and you will identify as a doctor.” Although the five-year-old in me secretly wants to simply fast-forward a few years, I finally understand that medical school is not just about knowledge, but about transformation. In the past year, I have transformed from a girl who wanted to be a doctor to a girl who is actually becoming one.
ShortCoat is a column that discusses the humor, heartache,and humanity of becoming a doctor. Alexandra Sowa is a second year medical student at NYU School of Medicine.