Aren't we all really Langston Hughes? As I walked out of hot yoga and ran back to my hotel in Virginia, I saw my white woman afro in my iPhone and it was good.
Yes so here we are- back in the US, 5 years later. Me, the American and my Danish husband and boys.
Here I am- applying for a residency position again - to be a doctor (with a specialty, which I can use to get a job in both the US and Denmark). Denmark recognizes US degrees but not vice versa. 6 years later. I've been through this before, matched at my first choice, got pregnant had to drop out to live with SR (living alone with a baby while working 80 hours a week with only15 days maternity leave seemed wrong in every way)- never thought I'd be granted another chance but I was.
8 interviews. That's the minimum they say you can go on to guarantee a residency position in "the match" - and how I'm spending my fall and winter (we all learn where we will go in March based on how we rank the programs and how they rank us). I am applying to Physical Medicine and Rehab - a small specialty and a field of medicine that by its very nature fights the "throw surgery at it as first line therapy, always go for the most expensive procedure (before trying to change your life)", that I am and so many others are fighting in American medicine. Only businessmen want that model, but doctors are fooled into thinking expensive is best because it is tradition and large clinical trials are funded by pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies.
Capitalism never did much for human rights.
And even "not for profit" hospitals use their millions of dollars of extra money to build fancy new buildings and buy expensive, inspiring art, etc - rather than entering it into a shared pool of money that could provide medical care for all.
BUT, let there be no doubt that doctors are good people. Heck, they sacrifice their lives - voluntarily work 80 hours a week at less than minimum wage (during residency) to have the privilege to heal (as one very prophetic vascular surgeon with a great sense of humor once said to me - "in residency, they break your spine, then you stop caring about your own life".) And it is a huge privilege to care for the sick and dying. We all think it, otherwise we WOULD become yoga instructors, coaches or professional athletes (to name some random examples). I think about it as I spend our money and my vacation time going from interview to interview (I just drove from Pennsylvania to Virginia yesterday) and one hour ago took my first shower in three days (don't ask me how I got out of the four feet of snow in Duluth). And I think - what are the boys doing now? How I want to just hold them. And couldn't this interview system be a bit simpler? Like couldn't I just go to an interview and then they decide whether or not I am hired like any other type of job???
On the interview trail, I have seen a sad trend: the hospitals and administrative buildings are bigger and more awe-inspiring than they were 5 years ago. There is more "state of the art" care everywhere. The rich get tailored, expensive, very expensive, often futile medical treatments, while the poor die from cancer that could have been cured - but they had no health insurance. Or the poor GET the health care and then end up spending the rest of their lives paying for it. IT IS WRONG AND I AM NOT IMPRESSED.
Is this America? Yes.
Is this what American doctors want? No. Is this what Americans want? No.
Day in and out I am struck - by how caring and passionate the young (and not so young) physicians are I meet. Healing is an art as pure as music and painting and dancing. I can't remember the last time I met a physician who went into it "for the money". I, for one, am still paying off my medical school debt.
As I asked the other residents I interviewed with today: Is medical care a human right? Well, we all agreed. Yes, yes, yes. How can America deny its citizens of a basic human right? Is America a first or third world country?
Well, in case you were wondering i HAVE the answer (and think it is better than Obamacare): extend the VA system (for veterans) to cover every American. Basic and preventive care. It works. Its cheap. Call me a socialist, I don't care. I have been a dedicated socialist since I was 19 years old. But more than this, I can't forget being in Denmark where medicine was about figuring out how to treat everyone. I can't forget it and why should I? It was the right thing to do. Medicine shouldn't be about impressing (and getting money from) the rich. It should be a basic human right. It's kind of incredible that none of the medical students interviewing with me could afford their own health insurance.
Medicine is not the flashy job it maybe used to be - but it is more competitive than ever - because at least it gives you the chance to get a job with health care. And a job where you can change peoples' lives for the better. Provided you truly care about healing and not throwing expensive bandaids at everything. And we all learned in medical school (and kindergarten) to care about the first.
|Pasty mom on the interview trail - sad to see the closed and broken down Virginia Ballet Theater.|
|Boonsboro, Maryland with Muktar, the fastest Ethiopian gas station attendant along the Appalachian trail to ever give me training advice and true stories of Haile.|
|Blow Street (it was 70 degrees in VA today) so I pranced around in a tank top while my husband and kids couldn't get the car out of 4 feet of snow in Duluth, in -20 F, not to mention the wind chill.|
|Well, Christian's hand says it all. It is too bad Kaj, the frog, has to sleep like that all night, though. (I wish I had seen this in real life.)|
Sweater Weather by The Neighborhood.
Fun fact- I interviewed with a young female doc today who ran track for North Carolina State and ran the 400 meter in 55 seconds. It is always exciting to meet someone who is (was) too fast for a treadmill and is a "real" runner :-).
Obligatory Nelson Mandela quote: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".
That's right. Education and health care. Two basic human rights. Can we agree on that?