There are some things I wanted to say to you as you officially commence your training that I wish I had been told. Take your training with you. Take the love and support of your family with you. Take the ancestors—their prayers, their struggles, their hopes—with you.
Confidence goes a long way. Humility goes so much farther. Do not confuse confidence and pomposity. I assure you they are not the same.
Apprehension is only expected and natural. You, beloved, are human. Let it drive you to learn more, know more, want to do more, and want to be more. Often, your patient will be so much more afraid than you are. That’s when you shine.
Failure is inevitable and is often requisite on the road to success. Learn everything from mistakes. Ask questions. Learn from all situations—the good and the bad.
Before healing others, heal thyself.
Connect with your patients first and always as human beings. Listen to them. I promise you they will know if you are not. Come out front. Don’t you dare stand in the back. Be visible. Support one another. A lot of days and for as long as we practice, we are all we have.
Be entirely present each day. Bring your whole self to work. Don’t be afraid to teach colleagues that you do not yet know. This will make you a better physician. Everybody is not your friend. Love all. Trust a select few.
When you find it difficult to stand, clasp your hands together, bow your head, and kneel.
Earl Stewart, Jr. is an internal medicine physician.
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