Arts and Poetry, Faith in Medicine, Featured, Journeys in Education

On Stages

Staring at pages of digital print, I see my life staring back at me.
Not the autobiography I envisioned nor the book jacket blurb I expected,
Who am I to decide what is substantial or trivial?
Like the coastline paradox, years may become months become moments in mere seconds.
Might a second glance provide some insight or perhaps a third, if not a fourth?
The more I cross my t’s, it seems my eyes are crossing even more.
I tease that dwindling counter until it runs dry, yet I try to find if something is missing.
Surely, I have nothing more to say, or maybe I have said too much.
How many words encapsulate a reaction, a memory — a life story?
And to what end will it matter if my words become lost with the other voices?
Doubt slowly consumes my pride and exhumes my precarious thoughts.
I thought, “If only I could reach the front of this stage, then someone would extend a hand.”
Still I stand several steps behind in a sea of onlookers carving a space for themselves.
I know that I want for my brothers and sisters what I want for myself.
I also know this stage is unforgiving and can only bear so much weight. 

My fate was decided long before I ever touched the keys.
I did not wish nor deserve to be front and center.
The understudy for the organist would have been just fine.
In time, I learned that his seat was taken as well.
A seat that left no room for hesitation and even less for doubt.
When I peered into my effort and found an even greater will,
I could rest assured that I had exhausted every fiber.
A reminder that self-worth is a well, and I am the fountainhead.
Though disturbed, my resolve could never be damaged, for
My faith in God was firm long before I ever submitted. 

As my hour upon the stage begins to wane,
I wait in preparation for the next.
I pray that these pages speak with ardor
For those who listen with hearts open
And hands outstretched.

The piece above is a prose poem that describes the collective feeling of trepidation felt by medical students and graduates alike who are pursuing a residency position through the national match process. The poem describes a stage that represents admission committees and their residency programs. Each stanza gets incrementally smaller to represent how my overwhelming thoughts gradually subsided. The final stanza opens with an allusion to the famous line from Macbeth, where he describes how life is meaningless. However, I took the opposite approach and chose to reaffirm my faith, which has made all the difference.

Image credit: Reaching out by andrew and hobbes is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Raihan Noman, MD Raihan Noman, MD (1 Posts)

Managing Editor

Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

Hello! I'm a resident physician at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, FL. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2018 where I helped manage a spoken word poetry student organization. Thereafter, I graduated from FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in 2022. My passion for the arts and humanities found its home in medicine, through which I have been able to explore both. Outside of medicine, I enjoy playing guitar, dancing, playing sports, reading, and exploring mathematics.