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The Doctor and Ms. Okeke

Superstar singer Beyonce Knowles’ 2008 album I AM…Sasha Fierce introduced an alter ego that showed a drastically different side of the entertainer: sassy, confident, and provocative.  In many ways, we medical students must have alter egos. Clearly, the person we present to our colleagues, attending physicians, and patients, differs from the person we are at home.  When studying for the STEP 2 Clinical Skills (CS) exam, I introduced myself to patients by stating my title.

When saying to patients, “Hello, I am student doctor,” only the word ‘doctor’ resonates.  The enormity of the title is as staggering as it is fragile.  I am still amazed at how family and friends look to me for medical advice, even though I have not yet received my degree. However, I am really selling myself short, seeing as I have accumulated thousands of hours of clinical rotation experience, more than 100 credit hours of basic medical science knowledge, and two board examinations safely under my belt. I do know a few things: I know how to conduct an investigative interview to ascertain critical patient history, a physical examination that provides helpful information to add to the history, and come up with differential diagnoses as well as the most efficacious treatment.

And when I’m home, I know how to kick up my feet, shed the knight’s armor that is my white coat, heat up my Lean Cuisine, and be Chinwe sans the student doctor title: tired and overwhelmed. As I eagerly await the release of Beyonce’s upcoming album in which she has admitted that Sasha Fierce is gone, I feel a bit of envy because I know that, as future physicians, we will always have to be two or more people.

by Chinwe Okeke, Class of 2011