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What I Want Aspiring Doctors to Know as a Chronically Ill Patient

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Dear aspiring doctor,

Congratulations to you on having the brains and drive to set your sights on medical school. I’ve run into a few people like you, in dorms, classrooms and in hospitals. For some of you I am happy to know you will be in the medical field. Others, not so much.


The most striking interaction I’ve had with a future doctor was my freshman year of college. Freshman year was full of ups and downs for me health-wise. If anything, it was one of the worst health years of my life, but it came at a time when I was less open. My friends knew I had some health problems going on, but it wasn’t something I went around advertising.

I was in the elevator when I met a future doctor. My health came up, and they said some things I’ll never forget. In almost the same breath I was asked whether I had made a wish through the Make-a-Wish Foundation and if they could come to my funeral. The insensitivity and rudeness made me realize something that has stuck with me: some people just shouldn’t be doctors.

I’ve seen a lot of doctors in my life and the great ones and the terrible ones are what stands out. The terrible ones aren’t bad at science; in fact, some are highly published in their fields, but they are inconsiderate, especially when it comes to rare or chronic patients. But, that is not OK. I have heard too many stories of people crying in doctors’ offices and being dismissed, sometimes even for years.

If you are out there aspiring to be a doctor, I want you to think long and hard about your reasons. If pleasing your family, making money or wanting a “Dr.” in front of your name is a reason, I want you to think again. Becoming a doctor is a long and hard path, and there is no reason to do it if you are doing it for shallow reasons.

As a doctor you hold lives in your hands. Treat them with care.


A chronic and rare patient

Follow this journey on Chronically Tate.

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Thinkstock photo via KTM_2016.

Originally published: August 30, 2017
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