Brought to you by the students of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
By Khanant Desai
It was the fourth and final week of Physician and Society 101, and I was late to class. After impatiently riding the elevator to the seventh floor, I quietly slithered into the lecture hall and plopped down into an aisle seat. I quickly flipped my laptop open and mused at whether I had missed some crucial morsel of information that would be on the quiz that Friday. The lecturer was still introducing our topic of the day – “Poverty and Global Health” – when my home screen finally flashed on. Staring back at me with its big, beautiful eyes was the Porsche Panamera Turbo, a magnificent machine and a symbol of opulent wealth. Poverty and Porsche. The juxtaposition struck me like a slap in the face, only for a few seconds, until I began to take notes.
This publication is built upon the power of ideas. Our classes teach us technical and theoretical competencies that we surely will utilize, but there is so much more to our profession. Medicine is no longer insular – business, philosophy, religion, law, and technology all play prominent roles in how the modern physician thinks and functions. Most of us thirst for knowledge, for fresh ideas, and for new avenues to make people better. This publication aims to explore and expose the world of medicine from our neophyte perspective. We want to spark the imagination and engender debate. There is an exploding litany of fascinating questions in our medical world, most of which have no right or wrong answers. The more novel ideas we expose ourselves to at the beginning of our medical training, the higher the chance that we discover the seeds of our future individual passions.
By now, all of us surely think of the spacious (freezing) study rooms in MSB as our lovingly adopted homes, yet it is easy to feel alone in our individual paths. Hearing how a classmate’s sibling was born with cleft lip can turn a cold, hard fact that needs to be memorized for Fundamentals Exam 3 into a truly human process. We all learn the same information, but it applies to our unique experiences in different ways. Medicine may have some inherent morally relativistic elements, but medical school is our opportunity to discover on which side of the fence we find ourselves (or to switch sides). By acknowledging many different viewpoints, we expand our understanding of how the world truly functions. We are “just” medical students, but that shouldn’t make our opinions any less pertinent. Our ability to present modern perspectives, unencumbered in many ways by the rigors of practice, is our greatest asset.
In college, I was assigned a novel for an anthropology class entitled “Mountain Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.” I promptly blew it off; after all, it was just an anthropology class - how important could it be? As the book gathered dust on my bookshelf, however, something about it kept nagging me like a thorn. A Man Who Would Cure the World – what a presumptuous claim! No matter how hard a physician were to work, there would always be disease and suffering in the world. We fight the battles of a war that we cannot possibly win, and for someone to make this claim seemed overly ambitious to me. On an airplane ride, I began reading a few lines, and I was immediately enraptured. Here was the story of a doctor who saw the complexities and inequities of the world around us with the brutal honesty of a child; the unfortunate poor do not deserve to die from lack of healthcare. And he did something about it. Paul Farmer worked in Haiti amongst some of the most indigent people on Earth, flew back to Harvard Medical School to take (and ace) his exams, and then returned to Haiti the next day to continue his mission. Here was a luminary who could have reaped the material rewards of practicing as a top-flight physician in affluent Boston, only he discovered a path to make his existence beneficial to those who needed him and to do something truly good with his life. He found the true purpose of his vocation. I will leave it to the reader to find out if, and to what extent, Dr. Farmer succeeded in his quest. It is a deceptively simple idea: utilizing our world’s wealth and resources to solve its problems, “to cure the world.” Ideas like these are like sparks, and hopefully, for some of us, they just might light a fire.
An introduction to the purpose of our publication.
Copyright © 2011 Mentis