Behind every doctor is a little boy or girl who once stood and watched helplessly. Maybe he or she watched a parent, grandparent or sibling suffer the ravages of an incurable disease. Maybe it was the child herself who was traumatized by illness or injury and the medical procedures to treat it.  Helpless as a child she vowed that she would protect others from such things once she got old enough — a vow that gave her the fortitude she needed for arduous years of study and apprenticeship and was etched into her psyche as indelibly as the 2 letters on the white coat that she worked so hard to earn.

Behind every doctor is a medical student or resident.  A young man or woman whose innocence was the first casualty of an unexpected war. At some point, that young doctor-to-be was thrown into a medical situation that was far beyond his repertoire of experience or training. The shattered remnants of what he’d thought and believed were pieced back together into a facsimile of what had been there before, something that could allow him to keep going.  But the sum of the parts never quite amounted to the whole. Those who looked closely enough could see the cracks.

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Behind every doctor is just a person, haunted by the weight of his decisions, baffled by the foibles of our legal system, asked to trade his hard-earned skills and knowledge for a degree in data entry. He is exhausted from spending a night on call followed by a full day of work. He is a husband, father or son and the continual stress of such weighty responsibilities takes a toll on both professional and personal life.

Behind every doctor is a patient, someone who, like everyone else, gets sick or injured or needs surgery sometimes.  He’s also a human being with good days and bad days, someone who has moods and may be short and harried one visit and warm and cordial the next.  

The barriers of rank and title are artificial; don’t be put off by them. Don’t let complicated jargon and technical terms distract you.  You and your doctor have much more in common than what separates you.

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