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Separating the Person from the Pathology

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

This is part of the Medical Humanities series on Op-Med, which showcases creative work by Doximity members. Do you have a creative work related to your medical practice that you’d like to share? Send it to us here.

"My First Patient"
With a clumsy knife and shaky hands, I split the seams that held you together.
Intimacy I tore asunder, the vessel which your essence tethered.
From your calloused feet to your smooth head, I explored your great peaks, valleys, and bends.
Spending long nights in the lab, you had a story and I, an ear to lend.
My first patient! Can I ever forget you? Can you ever forgive me?
For days I cut deep? For tales weaved into you that I didn’t want to read?
Oh, my first patient, how I love you for the gift you have bestowed to me!
Me, your most trusted confidant with your atlas I hope that I may see.
To touch the cradle that held your soul, your box of memories mine to hold.
To bestow such a gift to a mortal man who has fears of growing old.
Expecting to find anatomic landmarks, instead I saw hopes and fears.
I saw triumphs and failures, I saw what you loved and what you held dear,
To stay human in medicine, it is easier said than it is done.
How can we seemingly forget that this patient is a daughter or son?
For this gift that I can never repay, thank you is not enough to say.
My first patient, I will never forget you in all my coming days.
Though you are gone, with me your legacy will forever be here to stay.

What was your inspiration for this poem?

I wrote this piece reflecting on my experience with my cadaver in the anatomy lab. Working through anatomy was one of the most moving experiences I had in my preclinical years. It felt as though it was one of my first medical rites of passage.

Keeping in touch with the humanity of medicine is something that has always been a priority for me. Separating the person from the pathology or adding meaning to studies is something that I have tried to do for myself through writing.

Why did you choose poetry? What interests you about it?

I have written intermittently since probably 12 or 13 years old. I've always believed poetry to be similar to painting on a canvas. You can accomplish and convey so much with few words. The natural rhythm of poetry and rhyming also allows me to join my love of music with writing.

Noah Feld is a third year medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and is interested in medical humanities and health care disparities.

Image: duncan1890 / gettyimages

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