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Moving Forward


It seems like, at times, the world leads you to where you are supposed to go. You feel like you are being led by a force that you can’t pinpoint or comprehend. The road to medical school seems like such a journey now. See, I was one of those kids, who wanted to be a doctor ever since I can remember. Ever since I started being asked about what I wanted to do in this mysterious world adults cared so much about, the future. Such introspective thoughts have inadvertently passed through my head throughout my third year of medical school. When we are all prompted to look forward, but in trying to do so, are forced to look back, reflect, reconnect and attempt to anticipate this unknown reality. When I say there seemed to be a force, I mean there has always been an ever-present momentum that seemed to be carrying me forward, guiding me into making decisions in life with pure gut-feeling not much calculation.

I’m saying this not to undermine the hard-work I have put in to get here but in reflection to the stark contrast in mental state, in which I currently linger. I chose to speak about the topic of looking forward because that is the daily dilemma of our patients, whether in clinic or inpatient, getting consented for surgery or for the countless family members, who have to make the decision of whether to keep their loved ones alive in the intensive care unit.

In this past year of clinical rotations, I have learned to appreciate the magnitude of pressure and emotional strain our patients and their families are under. The courage they show in giving us the reigns to the future of their loved ones. Well, we’ve been told the greatest gift we can give our patients is the most objective one; the numerical guidance to help navigate such deeply subjective life-decisions and hope we can all meet in the middle. But in doing so, we sometimes seem to forget that we are expected to reflect on each life and the subjective value it inherently holds.

The beauty of medicine and its practice is in how it can transcend time and place and connect all of us. Connect people to address the only truth we all know, that life and its transience is center stage when we look forward. I have learned to cherish these perspectives, as I myself delve into the unknown of my future. In this profession and gift, in dealing so closely with life and its preservation, looking backwards is as important as looking forward.

Dawit Ayalew Dawit Ayalew (1 Posts)

Editor, Medical Student

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

I am a current fourth-year medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, where I majored in Biology and French. I received my Masters in Physiology from Georgetown University. I am drawn to surgery as I am to writing by the creativity in thought and expression.