Trainee doctor or daughter?BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/sbmj.030384 (Published 01 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:030384
- Wendy Brown, third year medical student1
- 1University of Dundee
As a medical student, you expect to see people dying; you also expect to be able to help people. Watching my father die last year was the hardest experience of my life, and it was made harder by my being a medical student and the reasons I chose to study medicine. My father died of a terminal illness that dragged on. He fought 10 times harder than I could have; I would have given up when he had just begun.
You would expect that learning medicine prepares you for people dying. But nothing can prepare you for watching a close relatives final breaths, for seeing them in agony day after day, and your helplessness when you just have to sit and hold their hand. What makes it worse is that although the consultant cannot do any more, friends, family, and sometimes the patient may expect you, a mere second year student, to be able to something.
You apply to medical school with your standard lines about wanting to help people and enjoying science, and in …