Engaging with medical students has always been a passion of mine and something that leaves me full of hope for the future of our profession. Again this year I had the privilege of attending the Island Medical Program’s annual dinner in Victoria for first-year medical students who have moved there to pursue their studies until graduation. Numerous local physicians and more senior students turned out to welcome the newest additions to our profession, additions who each looked a bit like a deer in the headlights—a feeling we all know quite well.
I can remember my first days as a medical student. I wasn’t nervous; I was downright scared! Scared about having to face my first anatomy class; scared at the realization of how accomplished all of my classmates were. It made me wonder what I was doing there. But among those feelings of fear was something else, something greater—excitement. I was excited about the journey I was about to begin, and I was excited about all that I was going to learn.
During my interactions with medical students at various events and in one-on-one conversations, I’m struck by a few themes that arise.
First, like I was and like most of you were, they’re nervous. They have the same concerns we had, concerns that seem to be age-old. Can I really do this? How will I cope with the responsibility everyone keeps referring to? Will I be any good as a doctor? Of all the different types of doctors out there, what path do I want to pursue? And how will I know? There are also the more pragmatic concerns: How much is this going to cost? How will I ever pay off the debt? How will I support myself? My family?
Second, I’m struck with their passion. They want to make a positive difference for their patients and they want to focus on making the world a better place. And they are smart—wickedly smart—and have an energy about them that is unparalleled.
But while their anxieties and passions make them similar to our young selves, they’re also very, very different from how we were then and how we are now. They want change and they want innovation. While we talk about using IT in our offices, they’ve already adopted and incorporated it into their lives. While we mull over the idea of team-based care, they wonder what’s taking us so long to accept it. And to be honest, I struggle to find the answers sometimes.
They also want different things. They want a better work-life balance to allow for more family time and more time to focus on personal pursuits. They want a less complicated, more straightforward payment system. And they’re not as interested in spending the time required to run an office.
So these are our students of today. We have all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, my colleagues, it takes a whole profession to raise a student. That’s why I’m asking you to get involved. UBC medical school needs more clinical instructors, more preceptors, more mentors. I’m asking you to reach out and offer to teach or mentor a student as you can. And if you do, it will be rewarding. You will learn from each other. And our professional community, and the world, will be better places as a result.
—Bill Cavers, MD
Doctors of BC President
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Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
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