The author is a fourth year medical student dealing simultaneously with the rigors of medical training and the difficulties of living with diabetes. She has discovered that when she tries to interact with patients she over-identifies with them. When she reads about diabetes in medical textbooks, which present a rigid equation for balancing diet, exercise, and insulin need, she tries to adopt this approach to her personal diabetes management, convincing herself that emotions, fatigue, stress and other factors have no effect on her diabetes control. When this biomedical approach fails, she feels deep shame and frustration.

Only over time does she develop the confidence to realize that it is not shameful to admit one's personal needs even in medical training, that disease is a part of all humans and is not an enemy, that she need not be defined solely by her disease (or her profession), and that blurred boundaries between doctors and patients are not as dangerous as she was first led to believe.


Even though this author lives with chronic disease while most other medical students do not, she speaks to experiences shared by all students and residents--forming an identity as a doctor, learning to value (or devalue) self-care, developing relationships with patients, and becoming dangerously inculturated into a generally abusive environment.

Primary Source

Pharos 54(1): 28-31 (1991)

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