Having gone to medical school in Washington, DC, I was painstakingly aware that a patient’s quality of life was affected by more than just medical conditions. On any given day on one of my outpatient rotations, I might go from spending the morning and afternoon caring for patients who were paying above and beyond what their insurance would cover so they could take advantage of so-called “personalized medicine” to a clinic in Anacostia, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, in order to provide free after-hours care to patients who frequently had to choose between affording medications and putting food on the table for their families.
Recently I was invited to sit on a panel at rounds for my residency program. I showed up on the steps of the hospital that day, roughly 11 months from when I left. The building looked the same, flowers bloomed, and there were still patients lined up to see their doctors. It’s nice to know some things don’t change.