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What It Means To Be A Physician

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The dream of what it means
To be physician and doctor
The dream to give and help
To be a healing proctor

From science and math
To physicians and anatomy
It’s not the science that matters
It’s the healing artistry

Though we learn and sacrifice
Abused by the system
We seek to do good
to create a healing ecosystem

beaten and battered
and times we wonder why
who really is the patient
when shifts make you cry

from late night days
and days over night
we flip from shift to shift
ignoring an internal fight

the fight to ask what better
what could we maybe change
how can we improve this
to prevent useless derange

alarm clock croaks
coffee and cold shower
scrubs and white coat
round for an hour

in an attempt to learn
to take it all in
we forget friends and family
and lose our once grin

we should search for meaning
the meaning of saving
for what good is medicine
when doctors are caving

I wrote this in response to a discussion I had with one of my friends who is an intern. 3 months in and he was going through some tough times. Residency isn’t easy. From long days to 24hr calls. Medicine was meant for those who are willing to give everything they have in sacrifice for others. It isn’t easy but for most people, it is worth it.

I write poetry as a reflection of my interpretation of medical education. It isn’t the interpretation of the collective. Medicine to me, is a privilege. Yes, there are long days/late nights, but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I look forward to residency. I look forward to fellowship. I look forward to being an attending and working to improve our understanding of human health and disease. I personally believe we can do a better job preventing physician burnout and the stress/anxiety that comes with the medical education. In the future, I plan to continue in academia, working to improve the way we train medical students and physicians.

For those who do not write or who do not write poetry. I encourage you to try. There is something freeing about articulating your thoughts on paper. No one is an expert, but we all wrote poetry as elementary and middle school children. Diving back into it, is easier than you may think and it may be more rewarding than you anticipate.

Frank Cusimano is a third-year medical student and third-year PhD candidate at AZCOM and Columbia University, respectively. He is the host of the Surviving Medicine Podcast and you can connect with him at his Blog, on Instagram, or on Twitter. Feel free to join the SurvivingMedicine Community of medical students and physicians. He is a 2018–19 Doximity Author.

All opinions published on Op-Med are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of Doximity or its editors. Op-Med is a safe space for free expression and diverse perspectives. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email

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