We walk into the hospice. My Family Medicine preceptor invites me to meet a patient with a soft voice and lovely eyes. I can feel the bones in her hands when she reaches out to greet me. With her daughter beside her, she timidly voices her fears about dying: what she might miss, that she will be forgotten, and the pain she will leave behind with the people she loves. I marvel as my preceptor conjures words of kindness and listens patiently to her story, which at this moment I imagine offer equal comfort to the medical measures we are providing. One year later, I walk into the same rural hospice. This time, a familiar face occupies the space in that bed. The lady with the soft voice has gone, replaced with the lady who shaped my partner’s childhood; his grandmother. A different physician who joined her care in the hospital guides the family through a similar process of loss, but my role has shifted now. I not only hear the words that the physician says, but I feel their impact this time. When abstract experiences become firsthand immersions, and when emotion is added to education, that is when learning becomes understanding. This juxtaposition of patient illness experiences opened a window of insight for me, and influenced me to realize how physicians’ words and actions can impact patient and family care. I want to be a part of this frontline care, working across settings in the realm of stories, relationships, and community. I want to be a rural family doctor.
PGY-1, Rural Family Medicine
Collingwood Site, McMaster University