Two of the personal attributes medical school admission committees look for in their worthy and chosen candidates are having removed the rose-colored glasses (aka, having a reality-based understanding of what the practice of medicine can look like) and empathy filled with compassion. This article published by the Associated Press gives you insight into both of these through the eyes of some of the doctors and victims of the recent emotionally devastating and nearly unthinkable Las Vegas shooting.
You will hear from some of the doctors who cared for the some of the patients and what they experienced and felt, along with these doctors’ discussions about the horrible traumas and injuries these patients suffered and about the road to recovery these victims face. Also you will hear from experts in the field of trauma medicine. You will also hear from some of the victims and their loved ones. They share with you their emotional experience and thoughts about what lies ahead.
Here are a couple of excerpts from this eye opening article:
Rehabilitation for the most seriously hurt victims will take far longer than many may realize.
“Years,” said Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, one of the nation’s largest trauma centers. “It’s not days or weeks.”
… and …
For those who did survive, their prognoses depend heavily on where exactly the bullets struck.
“It really is a game of millimeters and centimeters,” said Dr. Jack Sava, trauma director at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
Bullets can pass through a victim’s body and miss vital organs, or veer slightly and leave a person paralyzed or dead. Sava cared for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican who was shot during a congressional baseball practice over the summer, and said patients and their families have to deal with the uncertainty of their recoveries.
“There’s so many things that happen, so many branches in the road,” he said. “A lot of times in trauma we talk about death, and that’s a tiny tip of the suffering that’s caused by injury and gunshot wounds. For every person we talk about living or dying, there’s an ocean of suffering we’re not talking about.”
On a personal note about something I see from the way news is reported – media coverage of traumatic events now often includes story into the impact on the victims and their families, and their lives. We now see photos of those who have died and short statements as to who the people were while still alive. I feel it’s important that these lives and the suffering be acknowledged. Documented. Remembered. Not only do these people deserve to be acknowledged and remembered, but in doing so, it will hopefully serve in some positive way to create or motivate the change we need to prevent further tragedy.
And I’m not sure if it’s compassion or lack of depth that still keeps the full impact of the devastation at bay in the news reported. But I think it important – if we really want to feel compassion and empathy and to understand better and to feel motivated to create the positive change we need to prevent further tragedy – for us to take a moment to imagine what it must be like for these people:
- the patient survivors whose lives are forever changed
- how they and their lives are forever changed
- how that change depends on so many factors that only they – the survivors and their loved ones – can understand or begin to comprehend (i.e., the severity of wound, the impact to emotional and mental state the wound and the experience has had on them, and how debilitated they will be, to mention a few)
- husbands who shielded their wives and died, and now the wives who must wake up each and every day without their beloved
- children who will now have to grow up without their mom or dad, or both
- and this list goes sadly on
Also, let’s not forget about the healthcare professionals who cared for these patients. They are survivors, too. They will likely have lasting impact as well, emotional and experiential. The first responders, too. And even though we are distanced from it for not having been directly involved, many of us – through the media coverage – are impacted as well.
So, if you are pre-med, and you are aware of what happened, and you think of the victims, both patients and providers, imagine what they experienced and then imagine yourself being there to provide care. Not for a minute thinking about being a hero who saves lives, but instead being totally focused with all your will and all your training – everything that you know and have to offer – imagine yourself wholly consumed with one goal in mind: to save the person laying in front of you by being the best you absolutely can be.
My best wishes for your happiness and success, always!
Mary Kate :0)