There is a specific age group of patients I find particularly awkward to see, patients that are the same age as me.
I find it strange that they divulge their secrets and personal stories to me as if I’m an authority figure, I’m not. They ask and listen to my advice on how to treat their illnesses, even though I often struggle with mastering my clinical knowledge. They genuinely trust me and believe I will do the best for them, even when in the back of my mind I am thinking, “this is my first time doing this, you’re guess is as good as mine.” Though you are no older than them nor wiser, they let you poke needles into them, examine any part of their body, and tell you stuff they would never tell anyone else in the world, like when did they last poop and what color was it.
But perhaps why it’s so strange to see patients my age is because you can’t help but compare their lives to your own and appreciate the difference. I feel lagging in the game of life whenever a female patients my age tells me about her last three pregnancies and being a parent isn’t even on the horizon for me. It’s even weirder when they ask me about parenting and about their kid, despite my lack of children. They will tell me about their menstrual problems or STIs and I will tell them how to manage and treat it, despite never having experienced either. You get to see how people your own age are living their lives. Some are raising families, some are in gangs, some have substance abuse issues, some have made it big in their careers.
It is strange indeed, but also a privilege I appreciate. I am grateful that people will trust me based on just the fact that I am going to be a doctor. It really motivates me to do my best.
Being one of the youngest in the class doesn’t help much either, luckily I do look a bit older. When you realize that by the time you graduate, you’ll be younger than the average medical school applicant, it makes me all the more humbler. That even despite your age, people will trust you because of the doctor-patient relationship you share.