Today, I received my stethoscope and the feeling was immense.
One of the first diagnostic tools physicians ever developed, holding it was like cradling a piece of history in my hands.
I put the stethoscope to my heart and stilled my breath. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. I couldn’t help but smile - I was listening the very rhythm that kept me alive. All those textbooks pictures and diagrams suddenly came to life. Excited, I put it to my neck and began breathing slowly. Wooosh. I could hear the air that sustained me rush down my trachea - like water from a free-flowing tap. It was amazing hearing my body work.
Then exactly how little I actually knew dawned on me. Hundreds of years worth of physicians had used this instrument to peer into the body, diagnose diseases, and heal patients. Their clinical acumen was sharp, precise, and quick, developed over countless hours of training.
And here I stood, with no experience or know-how, clutching the most iconic instrument in the medical field. What right had I to wield such…power?
Sure, a few medical schools had chosen me, but that itself wasn’t sufficient justification. Their admissions represented a promise to patients; a promise yet to be fulfilled.
When a patient allows you to press that metal chest piece to their body, they rest assured knowing that you are listening for the right biological cues. More than a diagnostic tool, it is a badge of responsibility and trust; an honor I haven’t quite earned yet.
Medical school is exciting, certainly, but the significance of the entailing responsibility is not lost on me. I hope to earn the right to use that stethoscope in the next four years and do good by my patients. That’s when it will all feel justified.