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Alongside the obvious necessities like a pen, a stethoscope, and my pager, I carried a sterile disposable scalpel, a few wound-care supplies, scissors, cards with Advanced Cardiac Life Support algorithms, a portable text, and printed reference materials.
I carry what I have learned from my mentors; the memory of the interaction between my attending and his patient after the pathologist informed us that the distal gastrectomy margins still were diseased.
My attending was honest, straightforward, and humble; his patient was accepting, understanding, and happy to accept the course of action we set before her.
I carry her whenever I go see a consult in our emergency room, and I remember that appearances can be deceiving.
Every patient begins to us as a mystery waiting to be solved.
When I was an intern, I wanted to be prepared for anything that could happen.
The pockets on my white coat bulged outward, overstuffed with things I thought I might need.
I carry so many things, so many insignificant things, things that you would never think could hold so much meaning. No, I do not carry it for fear of coming across Prince Charming and diving into his arms for the fairy-tale kiss.
But I do fear chapped lips; it is more of a phobia (chapped-obia? I was eight years old in the Alps of France over winter break when no one informed me that chapstick would be a good little soldier in my pocket to defend my lips from the enemy: the cold (and cue the evil soundtrack).
I remember her, and I remember that when we do our duty with diligence and commitment, we can make a difference in people’s lives.
The most important things I carry when I walk into the hospital are not in my pockets.