“For me, a woman who is absorbed in her work, who does not care about gaining one’s favour, strong yet subtle at the same time, is essentially more seductive. The more she hides and abandons her femininity, the more it emerges from the very heart of her existence.”
This is an excerpt from the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College given by author David Foster Wallace. It should absolutely be watched by every medical student, resident, and doctor. The practice of medicine can become repetitive, mundane, and often annoying.
The banality of the day-to-day practice of medicine coupled with a medical culture that puts doctors at the center of the health care team makes physicians prone to what Wallace describes as us “operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that [we] are the center of the world and that [our] immediate needs are what should determine the world’s priorities.” This plays out in hospitals and clinics as us viewing patient’s as annoyances (especially uncomplicated cases) rather than people under our care, deserving of every ounce of our attention. We must constantly remind ourselves that we typically know very little about our patients and that they very often have “much more difficult and tedious lives” than our own.
“The real value of a real education has almost nothing to do with knowledge and everything to do with simple awareness.” Good medical educators know this and teach true patient care (which is very much about awareness) rather than focusing on ever-changing book knowledge.