Monday, January 2, 2012

The Medical Student Change Agent

Yesterday, I wrote about how anyone can be a change agent, and I hold that statement true.  But, there is something to be said about the change agent who seeks education and skills to make change on a greater scale.  I have some pretty spectacular colleagues that have pushed themselves to the limits while holding their principles as change agents and as genuine human beings near and true in medical school.  Those people truly inspire me and help to restore my much needed humility.

They study with an unwavering passion for medicine and serving others, and more importantly hold me accountable to the standards I set for myself when I began medical school.

When I trained for my trip with AYUDA, I learned that the best change agents have both a soft heart and hard mind.  Most people favor one or the other, but medical students generally fit that criteria to a T.  To merely succeed in matriculating you have to had proven your apt for learning while participating in community service...among MANY other things.  Although, I will say having a hard mind means more than memorizing facts and figures and a soft heart means more than merely donating to a cause.  A hard mind means having the ability to think logically about a problem in front of you and assessing options.  On the other hand, a soft heart might mean basing decisions off emotions and letting circumstances influence decisions.  I suppose those two things must find a unique balance so we can effectively make change for worthy causes (soft hearts) but only do so while thinking logically as to not jeopardize our principles (hard minds).

Physicians are a unique set of change agents, and they must be.  Every single patient encounter is an opportunity for change.  When physicians really show up, and can hone in on their observation master skills, very meaningful exchange can happen.  It is in the patient - physician encounter where physicians see people at their most vulnerable, and they have an unimaginable power.  It is actually a pretty frightening power that, if as medical students, we don't learn how to control and stand by our principles, we will  not be an effective physician or even a good person.

Furthermore, if our generation of physicians do not step up to the plate and become effective change agents, the field of medicine and entire healthcare system is inevitably doomed.  Physicians have a unique ability to tread between patient encounters and policy making with equal credibility to make change if they choose to act.  Realizing that ability, credibility and potential to use our hard minds for soft hearted causes is necessary so as to not sell ourselves short of anything but greatness.

 So with that said, I need to get back into the real world, study, and hold myself accountable to the promise I made to myself, my peers, and future patients when I started medical school.

And lastly, a special thanks to my dad, Jay and Liz, Mike, and anonymous medical student for your contribution yesterday.  


  1. more than a few people owe their inspiration to you. keep working!

  2. thanks rick, and right back at ya!