Monday, June 12, 2017

Why the kidney is a metaphor for life

These past 10-11 months have been a whirlwind. School has been amazing, but difficult at times. My program has challenged me academically and sometimes, even more so, emotionally. I've been forced to make sure that I run my day and not the other way around. I've been tested to control my own, longstanding vice of time-management. I've been impelled to transorm into someone who used to meagerly accept the status quo into someone who realizes that as a woman I am wildly disenfranchised and when I feel, hear, or see injustice I am motivated to speak up and not accept it. I challenge it as much as it challenges me. Most importantly, I've endured professors that span the spectrum of gifted and, well, not so gifted. I've met some great people along the way.

Today is the last day of my first year and last Thursday was my last lecture of the year. During our last lecture, my renal professor/course director presented arguably the most salient information of my entire first year. Below is a picture. I am lucky to have had her to look up to in both academic interest and poise as a woman in clearly what is still a man's field. She knows her field and knows it well. She displayed an enthusiasm for the field and owned her personal responsibility to bequeath that enthusiasm and knowledge upon us in the most honest and humbling way. ("I think the kidney is beautiful and if you don't think so too then I am not doing my job right.") I have never met a professor that has tried to learn as much from our questions as we do from her teaching.

I want to point out that I have only had a few female professors/faculty that we work with closely in my first year. It might be my own gender bias, but these women resonate with me not only by words but also by action. They have shown what it's like to maintain a career while giving birth. They have shown to hold their own when the men around them egregiously (and probably subconsciously) push them aside. They've done it with poise, grace, and intellect. I've learned from them. I've learned that it's not enough for me to know the craft to the fullest extent because I will be challenged by colleagues and superiors that assert that they *may* know more. I have to be able to articulate things at the right time and place. It makes little difference if these are afterthoughts because at the end of the day I will be responsible for someone's life and a misstep or lack of appropriate and prompt action can have a result that I won't be able to take back or redo.

I am grateful for my opportunities this year. I will embark on summer break after our exams next week hopefully a smidge wiser and vigilant and motivated to excel to the next level. I want to leave this post with some last words from my renal professor: "My whole life I have tried to set the bar as high as I can because I realized that if I even accomplished 50% of that then I am still better off than someone who set the bar low."

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