|National essay award for medical student
Dr. James Rourke, dean of medicine, congratulates Robyn White on winning this year’s SRCP national rural student essay contest. The essay, originally an email to families and friends, was written by Ms. White during an elective in Labrador City.
Robyn White, a third-year medical student from Paradise, has won the 2004 Society of Rural Physicians of Canada national rural student essay contest.
In awarding Ms. White top place, one of the judges said he was “moved to tears” and that the essay helps remind physicians why they entered rural medicine. Her prize will be registration, travel and accommodations to next year’s SRPC Annual Conference.
Here’s an excerpt from the essay An Experience That Influenced My Passion for Rural Medicine.
I'm out of this world high on life.
I fell in love today.
I'm seriously all choked up inside even thinking about him.
I loved him when I first saw him. I saw a tiny wisp of his pale brown hair, and I knew I loved him.
It's hours later and I'm smiling like a doofus and fighting back tears even thinking about it.
I saw my first delivery today and it wasn't at all what I expected.
Yes, mom screamed, and blood gushed. But I won't tarnish the experience by turning it into a medical war story. It was beautiful. He was beautiful. Mom was beautiful.
I expected to feel shock, to feel sick, to feel scared, to feel faint, and to grimace at the pushing and blood and stitches. I got grossed out at tonsil removal. This I stared at the whole time.
The doctor was new. There was no neonatologist. The nurses were regular nurses not specialized for deliveries or neonatal resuscitation. I've done the neonatal resuscitation course, but I know nothing. It was my first delivery. When I first saw the top of his perfect little head the doctor said in a fake calm voice to the nurses 'Meconium.' The doctor explained to the mom that she had to push and deliver the head, then wait until he said to push again. Quickly the nurses suctioned the mouth and nose so that it could be removed before he started to breath. Soon after, Luke came fully into the world. We held our breath, waiting for him to cry, to turn pink, and to move. It seemed like just an instant before the nurses had him on the warmer, towel drying him. I held the free flow oxygen, with my hand cupped close to his tiny pink face. He cried and kicked.
Luke was wrapped up and passed to dad. He saw his mommy. The process continued with mom, things you don't need to hear about. But she was fine. She was happy and joking. We talked about the delivery, she and I, while everyone else finished up. She said it wasn't what she expected. It hurt, but hurt differently. And it was ok. We talked about Luke. That's his middle name actually. His first name is the same as his daddy, but he'll go by Luke.
I wish I had a picture, but it wouldn't do justice. He was so perfect. Not gross, or icky or ugly. His soft little breaths. Sleeping baby, in his daddy arms. His small pink lips. I can't explain it. It all sounds so silly and superficial. I really love him. I'll probably never see him again. But I love him, and I will remember him.
I love medicine. I love that it lets you share people's lives. I know that when I go to Obstetrics I'll see deliveries every day. And I hope I can feel a piece of this every time. But there is sometime so special about rural practice. Today wasn't just about a baby. Today I saw the beginning of a family. I'll go home soon. A month rotation passes quickly. But the family doctor will see Luke. He'll follow Luke. He'll do well baby checks and treat his first cold. He'll counsel mom about the 'terrible twos'. He'll cast his arm after his fall from his bike at age ten. If he stays long enough the doctor may have the 'teen talks' with Luke, about smoking, sex and school. He'll know the family. He'll be there for the little sister-to-be. He'll be there when Grandma passes away, and help the family set up long term care for Grandpa.
Today I saw a cross section of rural practice. This morning I met Luke. This afternoon I made my first correct diagnosis, which may actually affect someone's life. Later, I counseled a young teen about sex, condoms and PAP smears. I saw the difference a family doctor can make. I felt it. I feel it. What a wonderful way to start clerkship, what an amazing way to begin my medical career.
I can't express it. I wish I could telepathically zap you with what I'm feeling. When things are hard, and people yell, and I have to stay up all night and work, I hope I remember today.
I wish every one of you a day like this, whatever form it takes in your sphere. My life changed today. I think I found where I belong.
This essay and others are posted on the SRPC Website at www.srpc.ca/