Why do you want to be a PCM Scholar?
I applied to be a member of the Patient-Centered Medicine Scholars Program at UIC. The essay I wrote for the application was largely influenced by the learning I’ve experienced whilst in India, shaped by the teachings of Krishnamurti, in part. Let me know what you think, what you feel : ) .
I search for reality. Sometimes, I feel like I find it. Other times, I feel uncertain. Other times, I find fear. We learn what to do and what not to do, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. The thoughts and beliefs of countless others shape the experiences, memories and ‘truths’ that we accumulate as we try to figure out how we want to live with others, for others. Popular rhetoric continually urges us to know who we are, to make coherent the identity that is contained by the name, to decide what we want and what we need to do to attain it. The dogma of communicable truth is inseparable from the compartmentalization of life, from the systematic bifurcation of arbitrarily named entities. The result is a perpetual state of contradiction, a fabricated conflict that endures because the type of understanding that we are programmed to seek is unattainable. Indeed, even those constructs that are often portrayed as ends, such as happiness, fulfillment, and love, have been integrated into the same thought structures that convince us that the traditional conception of ‘success’ matters, that faith must be kept in something, that we must have a purpose – that the identity that contains the name, if nothing else, should be remembered.
As an incoming medical student, I am afraid of the institutions of thought and belief into whose jaws I willingly stroll. I am afraid of the mutations that might seem random only because I cannot understand the forces shaping my motives and intentions. I am afraid of slowly but surely turning into the physician that reduces the alleviation of others’ suffering into a task to be completed, into a wrong to be righted, into a lever-press to be rewarded. I am afraid of forever being a prisoner, of denying myself the opportunity to be what it is that I am, of never tasting freedom. But, then I recall that only I, the self, my self, can get in the way of that. And I recall why medicine is the only thing that I want to do with my existence. Unlike fear, pain is real. Everyone has a right to understanding the words that envelop them, to understand what they are and what they love. Pain gets in the way; it stays in the way. My experiences have taught me how to feel both what I feel and what others feel. I have been given time and opportunity to study, contemplate and meditate, to seek, wander and discover. I have been lucky with my health, fortunate with my body. My luck can be that of others; my fortune must be that of others.
Medicine, as a collaborative effort to achieve health justice for patients, can help people help themselves. It can provide people the opportunity to be themselves, to understand what that means, what that is. Medicine, construed as anything but ‘patient-centered,’ is just a business. And I’ve never been much interested in being a businessman.