Originally Published in the Hamilton Spectator, June 7, 2016
On May 27, 200 students from the McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine crossed the stage at Hamilton Place. At the end of that walk we were hooded, handed our MDs, and in doing so became medical doctors. For all of us this represented the culmination of a major chapter. We have spent the better part of our lives studying and sacrificing to achieve acceptance into medical school. Now we stand on the other side of that hurdle, ready to embark on our new journey as resident physicians.
We want to say that we could not have done it without you, Hamilton. You may have seen us over these past few years — we were the young, wide-eyed junior learners who eagerly measured your blood pressure in your family doctor's office. Or you might remember when we took your history and listened to your heart and lungs at your specialist's appointment. Chances are if you have had any interactions with the health-care system in recent years, you have run into one of us medical students on our clinical rotations.
For the last year and a half of medical school we have been rotating through major hospitals in Hamilton to smaller community clinics in nearby rural areas, learning the clinical knowledge and skills that are foundational to the practice of medicine. This means that we saw you, our patients, when you came to hospital to visit your doctor or seek emergency care.
Hamiltonians, we want to say thank you. Thank you for letting us into your lives at the moments when you needed help and when we needed to learn.
Thank you to the first-time parents who welcomed my presence at the birth of their child in my second month of medical school. Thank you to the 95-year old woman who invited me to sit at her bedside, and who spoke sincerely with me about how it felt to live life knowing that her time left was precious. Thank you to the family who forgave me when I told them their father would be discharged from hospital in one hour, and which turned into six. Thank you to the young mother who, at her most vulnerable and difficult moment, allowed me to be a part of the team that helped her ill child to get well.
In allowing us to be learners involved in your medical care, you have been our teachers. Next month we will enter the hospitals as junior doctors. We could not have made it here without you. You have shared with us your personal stories, your medical histories, and your deepest concerns. In turn, you have taught us what it means to provide care that is truly patient-centred. For that, we are so grateful.
On the day of our graduation, our class collectively pledged the Hippocratic Oath. We promised that as physicians we would always treat human beings rather than illnesses, and remember that our patients' health and illness extends beyond the individual and into their communities. Thank you, Hamilton, for teaching us just how truly important that is.
Dr. Natalie Raso is a graduate of the McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine Class of 2016. She was born and raised in Hamilton, and will stay in Hamilton for her residency training at McMaster in Psychiatry.