The Human Surgeon

I’m a physician, no doubt
I delay gratification
All last year I did the grunt work
So this year I see the patients

I work wildly long hours
And I’m comfortable with that
I’ll do this to be a doctor
But there is a caveat

When I’m finally done with training
I won’t work myself to death
I reject the expectation that
I must to earn respect

The one thing I hold closely
And hope never to lose sight of
Is that I am human too
Irreducible to my title

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“You can be the president of your field and be defined by your professional title, or you can be a great surgeon and a mom and your own person.” This woman was in her second year of residency for general surgery. She’d worked long and hard hours as a medical student, but recognized and accepted that this was part of the process to become a doctor. Recently she had finished a four-month placement in trauma surgery which had been incredibly taxing. She was looking forward to cooking, hanging out with friends and family, exercising, and doing other things she hadn’t had time for before. She held her dedication to becoming a fantastic surgeon and her excitement to live a full life alongside each other with pride and confidence.

Interviewee: Anonymous, Resident
Listener Poet: Elle Klassen

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