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A Letter to My Geriatric Patients



I would like to send my deepest thanks to every one of you for teaching me so much during my Internal Medicine residency. With every lesson, you touched my heart.

I have been an internal medicine resident the last two years and each day you accepted me into the most vulnerable period of your life. I have been there as you face a scary new cancer diagnosis, when you realize your independence may be lost forever, and when your mind has felt shaky and unstable. I have been there as you navigate the trials of watching your child, your life partner, your sibling or loved one as they face death. I have been there even as you approach the end of your life. In those most challenging times, I marveled at the strength of your generation and the tenacity to overcome the unimaginable.

With my sincerest gratitude, I also extend to your generation several apologies. I am sorry I spend more time looking at a computer screen than looking at you. I am sorry my time on the wards is not spent at your bedside but instead in a workroom lined with computer screens. I am sorry for sometimes using medical language you cannot understand and for asking the nurses to repeatedly poke and prod you for blood work. I am sorry for not speaking loud enough for you to hear me and too loud when I assume you have hearing loss. I am sorry that I prescribe you medications you cannot afford. I am sorry that I have taken away your independence and with it, your small pleasures like driving and shopping for food. I am sorry that when trying to treat you with the "gold standard" I instead make you feel worse. I am sorry that my shirts and pants are not always ironed. I am sorry if I at times seem skeptical in miracles of faith. I am sorry that I do not ask you what you really want but I hope you know that through it all, I always have your best interest at heart.

Finally, I am sorry for never saying “thank you” enough during the precious time we have together face-to-face. They call you the Greatest Generation and it truly is an honor to not only meet you but to be a part of your lives. Thank you for making such an impact on mine.

Sincerely,

A Deeply Indebted Resident

by: Megan Rau (@meganismyname)

Comments

Anonymous said…
Wow Megan. Very well done.
Ana Zir said…
Megan-you will go on to make an excellent physician, for you have learned the lesson of presence and attentiveness to spirit - not just treating the body's many ailments. Thank you for YOUR contribution!
wassdoc said…
Excellent article. You will find that you will spend the rest of your life learning from these folks...never forget that. Geriatrics is an art that is constantly learned and refined, you are on the right path. Since there are not a lot of us geriatricians around, feel free to utilize me as a resource if you would ever like an opinion on a complex older person...I've seen my share in the past thirty years! www.wassdoc.com

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