I’m going to interrupt the series I’ve started writing looking back on each of the four years of medical school for a minute. This weekend, I was able to drop the “Almost” from the blog’s description of “Almost MD.” I’ve made it. I’m officially a graduate. But as one of our lecturers said back in first year, you aren’t a physician just because you’ve graduated from medical school and have an “MD” after your name.
Do I feel like a physician now? No. But the ceremonies this weekend really did a great deal to emphasize the significance of the milestone that my classmates and I have reached. I was fortunate enough to attend an incredible medical school with incredible students at Case Western. At the very beginning of first year, before we even attended a single lecture, we received our white coats at the White Coat Ceremony. It’s akin to being indoctrinated into Skull and Bones - the secret handshake, the oaths - you become “one of us.” But it was a momentous occasion. Graduation was held in the same place, and given the processions and ceremonies, it certainly makes one think of the prior experience.
Four years is a long time. Four years in medical school absolutely blows by you. I’d heard it from others, and I thought “I bet it does go pretty quickly.” But I wasn’t prepared for just how insanely fast the time passes. I thought back to when I first sat in that hall, wondering what medical school was going to be like. I’d wondered if it would be as incredibly tough as everybody said. It wasn’t - which I attest to the resilience of my colleagues, the dedication of my faculty, and the incredible community and curriculum at Case. I’d wondered what it would be like to be back there for graduation, and what it would be like to graduate and feel like a doctor. I don’t. But I also know that I will over the next several years.
I know how much I’ve learned in the last four years. It’s all in there somewhere. And I know that while I may not yet feel like a doctor, I will. I feel far more like a physician now than I did four years ago. Or four days ago. Seeing my name on that diploma, listening to the president of the university confer the degree upon us, hearing one of the deans call us all up individually as “Dr.” — it starts to mean something. It’s a marker of a significant milestone, a marker of how far we’ve all come in four years. And while I can’t speak for my peers, I know that with all the focus on residency and the transition to the next stage in our professional lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the stage we’re exiting. It’s easy to completely miss the opportunity to take a minute to recognize what it takes to get this far.
So before moving on to begin training as a surgeon next month, a dream I’ve had since I was a child, I’m glad to have had this weekend to realize how immeasurably significant this point is; likewise was the chance to share it with friends and family who are so important to me.
And beside that, I haven’t yet stopped getting a chuckle out of addressing my friends as “Doctor” since Sunday morning.