Agora is a forum where diverse student voices come together in creative expression.
LETTER FROM THE STUDENT EDITORS
Metabolism is the constant exchange between two processes: anabolism requires energy to combine simple molecules into complex compounds, while catabolism breaks down complex molecules into their component parts. As medical students, we are perpetually engaged in acts of metabolism — of knowledge, of expectations, of norms, of priorities, and of beliefs. This ceaseless transformation inspired the theme of this issue of Agora: “Metabolism.”
Textbook facts are stacked in our minds until the transition to clerkships, when they synthesize into comprehensive differentials and management pearls used in clinics and on hospital wards. We invest energy into interactions with our peers, mentors, and patients, and become bolstered by the evidence of our hard work. At the same time, we are confronted with the trying realities of medicine and of the human experience. We see the inequities faced by our patients — some without homes, familial support, insurance, and the means to maintain their health despite their best efforts. We feel helpless when medicine reaches its limits. We bear witness to death. When some patients choose to decline treatment, we realize that for all of our intricate knowledge of the complex ins and outs of medicine, it all simply comes down to the human beings before us — who they are, what they value, and how they wish to live their days.
These moments can render us powerless and confused. Yet they also provide the raw materials with which we rebuild into stronger versions of ourselves, both as physicians and as individuals. We learn that our power lies not only in our ability to diagnose and to treat, but in our ability to ask more questions, to listen, and to reflect.
The authors and artists featured in this issue offer us glimpses into the stages of metabolism, from the disruption of our equilibrium to the integration of change. We believe constant reflection is the essential substrate for a lifetime of studying, administering, and embracing medicine inside and outside of the hospital. In metabolism, the process as a whole takes precedence over any transient moment.
— Eli Cahan ’19, Elizabeth Greenwald ’19, Lizbeth Hu ’19, Jenny Wang ’18
Selections from Fall 2017 Agora Issue
David A. Warshaw
Two Doors Down
Advice From a Successful Cancer
Needles Vs. Needles