My muse for starting this blog during third year of med school came from a rather obscure article ran in 2002 in “Annuals of Internal Medicine” titled “Fiction as Resistance”, it was written by Stephen Bergman whose most famous book “The House of God” featured a group of interns struggling to find meaning and compassion often by satire and humor during the brutality of medical residency in the early 70’s. Bergman speaks of instances in life and residency where you say “Hey wait as second”, these are moments many of us experience everyday when we realize something is wrong, cruel, or unjust. Most times we do nothing about it and let these moments pass by or ignore them completely. However, in my opinion during the fast paced life of residency, military medicine, and life in the medical culture in general we cannot afford to sit passively and ignore these injustices for very long. We, being those that sacrificed most of our 20’s chasing down the dream of being a Doctor, while our peer group was stabilizing themselves in the work force and sowing families. We, whom are probably financially, and emotionally stunted from being stuck in the dark corners or libraries and coffee shops studying for almost a decade. Whatever reason we choose to pursue this career there was always a pure intention in the beginning. The first time a 1st year med student puts on that white coat they are always at least a little bit touched with a feeling of pride, purity, and validation in their life to the commitment of serving others and all the ideals that hold in modern day society of being a physician.
Countless articles have been written about the brutality and dangers of medical education, how residents and medical students alike are pushed to the point of near breaking. Or how seasoned doctors are leaving medicine unable to find the balance between the perceived wisdom of the medical system and the call of the human heart. Torn between work hours, systematic instability in not only medical education, but also the medical system as a whole we start to feel isolated, disconnected and victims of our once pure dream for providing care to humanity that has left us with a perpetual often subconscious state of being surrounded by inhumanity
This inhumanity of the medical culture however can be resisted against. To be compassionate caregivers to our patients, peers, families, and to ourselves we have to acknowledge the challenges we face, we have to develop strategies to be able to take “life as it is” and actually make it “life as it should be”, and not be constant victims of the rather harsh status quo that surrounds us. I think by writing, be it fiction or non-fiction, humorous or not we give ourselves and potentially others an awareness into the challenges we face. It’s only when we can acknowledge and see the hurdles in front of us that we can take action to stand against them and not stumble through them.
For me, writing helps me better understand and internalize the world around me in addition to “writing for resistance”. It’s one thing to keep a journal and write to ones self, but I think it’s another thing to write for an audience. When you know others read what you write there is a tendency to naturally try and make it entertaining to read. In doing this I’ve found that it creates a forced perspective of taking what was once harsh, malicious, or even boring and making it entertaining, intriguing, hopefully even lighthearted and funny. What comes out on the page often echoes back into our own lives, and slowly the humanity and happiness with practicing medicine starts to come back into focus.