As a medical student without an MD and prescription pad, it can be easy to feel powerless. Asked if it felt like one were making a significant difference in the lives of patients on a day-to-day basis, the answer of almost any medical student would likely be “eh, sometimes.”
We study biochemistry and physiology, memorize treatment regimens for asthma and hypertension, and hold retractors in the operating room, amassing a fund of knowledge that will hopefully– maybe someday– help us care for our patients. We listen to stories, provide emotional support, and occasionally glean information that in some small way improves a patient’s physical condition. And though we learn from and are grateful for the small contributions we are able make on a day-to-day basis, we easily lose perspective at the bottom of the medical education totem pole, forgetting the power we possess when we use our voices collectively. In those moments when we feel we have so little to contribute to patient care, we can look to previous generations of students and trainees for strength and inspiration to affect significant change.