Doctors without borders

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Felix Gunzer , a nineteen years old medical student at the Universtity of Graz, Austria. He is also affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

“How should patients know that you are trustable if you even do not know yourself.”

It has been those words which my former supervisor once used to enlighten my own ideology. I have worked at a hospital in Switzerland at that time, however, I was not a doctor then – not even a medical student. In those days, I have not truly understood the significance of these words in respect of my own personality. I have always been a confident person and thought I would know myself. Future made me realise that I was wrong.

A general problem in medicine is that the most doctors think they are gods, especially medical students. And at first glance, one may understand why. As a medical student, you have to study longer than students from the most other fields, you need a plethora of resilience and finally, after all the hours of memorization and nerve-wracking student parties, you are saving lives and helping humans with no thought of yourself. In fact, that is the opinion in general. But in truth, doctors are no gods. I would not doubt that doctors save lives and it certainly pleases me that physicians still have a good social status in our society but the more you work at hospitals the more you realise that the bulk of physicians are merely machines garbed in white squeezing out the patients about any information of medical relevance in a quite efficient way without straying far from the topic.

But when the moment comes that a person in front of you do not need a physician but rather a person she or he can talk too because she or he is descending into great grief, than the most cannot deal with the situation because they do not want to lose their professional distance or feel uneasy in such moments. But if you can, then you are an excellent physician because you have not only superb medical skills but outstanding social competencies as well and can really help humans in every respect.

But how do you improve? The answer is simple: Emigrate.

By moving abroad, you have the best chances to improve your strengths and your deficiencies so that you become a better version of yourself. It seems plausible that leaving the comfort zone leads to more autonomy and well-developed interpersonal skills that are mandatory for doctors. Furthermore, by dealing with different cultures, different systems, different opinions you receive gifts of crucial importance. Inspiration.  Empathy.  Language skills. Not to forget that, at least, you understand who you really are or can be. Those capabilities are far more valuable than expert knowledge. Only after a long period abroad you realise that all your anxieties and uncertainties only existed in your head. And, believe me, you shall gain these insights neither in your hometown nor in your native country.

Hence emigrate! Because if you are not aware of the human’s facets and varieties, as a doctor, you will never address your patient’s individual needs.

About the author

Felix Gunzer is a nineteen years old medical student at the university of Graz, Austria. Born in Bonn, Germany, he moved abroad to study medicine. Before his medical studies, he worked frequently at hospitals in Germany and Switzerland. He has already founded a small company and plans to repeat it any time soon. He also speaks English and French and his hobbies are badminton, guitar, piano as he is curretly writing a novel.

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