Every physician and medical student remembers the first patient who died on his or her watch. I remember mine.
Her name was Sarah, and she came to us in respiratory distress. After running some tests, we concluded that she likely had a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal lung clot. We had two treatment options—an easier, conservative option and a harder, more aggressive one.
Her condition was grave, so we needed to choose the latter. She later died of bleeding, a side effect of the treatment.
We had made the hard decision. But she still passed.
Life confronts us with decisions all the time. We can defer judgement and muddle along. Or, we can make the tough call and focus our resources to try to achieve the best outcome, because it's the hard decisions that allow us to grow. It's the hard decisions that allow us to live.
It takes courage to own the situation and try to turn the wheels of fate in a positive direction. As I embark on a career in medicine, I hope I have this courage.