“Letter” to Geriatric Patients from a Medical Student

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Megan Rau posted the following letter on GeriPal (Geriatrics and Palliative care) a forum for discourse, recent news and research, and freethinking commentary on geriatrics or palliative care.

A Letter to My Geriatric Patients

I would like to send my deepest thanks to every one of you for teaching me so much during my Internal Medicine residency. With every lesson, you touched my heart.

I have been an internal medicine resident the last two years and each day you accepted me into the most vulnerable period of your life. I have been there as you face a scary new cancer diagnosis, when you realize your independence may be lost forever, and when your mind has felt shaky and unstable. I have been there as you navigate the trials of watching your child, your life partner, your sibling or loved one as they face death. I have been there even as you approach the end of your life. In those most challenging times, I marveled at the strength of your generation and the tenacity to overcome the unimaginable.

With my sincerest gratitude, I also extend to your generation several apologies. I am sorry I spend more time looking at a computer screen than looking at you. I am sorry my time on the wards is not spent at your bedside but instead in a workroom lined with computer screens. I am sorry for sometimes using medical language you cannot understand and for asking the nurses to repeatedly poke and prod you for blood work. I am sorry for not speaking loud enough for you to hear me and too loud when I assume you have hearing loss. I am sorry that I prescribe you medications you cannot afford. I am sorry that I have taken away your independence and with it, your small pleasures like driving and shopping for food. I am sorry that when trying to treat you with the “gold standard” I instead make you feel worse. I am sorry that my shirts and pants are not always ironed. I am sorry if I at times seem skeptical in miracles of faith. I am sorry that I do not ask you what you really want but I hope you know that through it all, I always have your best interest at heart.

Finally, I am sorry for never saying “thank you” enough during the precious time we have together face-to-face. They call you the Greatest Generation and it truly is an honor to not only meet you but to be a part of your lives. Thank you for making such an impact on mine.


A Deeply Indebted Resident

by: Megan Rau (@meganismyname)

Read http://www.geripal.org/2014/07/a-letter-to-my-geriatric-patients.html

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