What has this, one of the most ancient professions, one of the most controversial and yet highly respected "conspiracies against the laiety" (as George Bernard Shaw put it --Ed) do for mankind? What HAS it done, through the ages, through all the civilisations, battles and revolutions that have shaped mankind?
Being in a highly traditional course, it is easy to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. This is simply because the tunnel is so long (a Cambridge medical course lasts 6 years; longer if you choose certain course options). I signed up to be a doctor. I wanted to wear the white coat, to treat patients, to haunt hospitals, to prescribe medicine. But a medical course is not so easy. Before they teach you what you need to go out into the world and treat, you have to jump over a few hurdles first. You have to learn biochemistry. You have to learn physiology. You have to learn pharmacology. Many aspects of these subjects will not be necessary for your career. Entire chapters will be more appropriate for pure scientists than for medics. But for various reasons, you have to learn everything. It's good for you.
But it makes you forget. It makes you look at medicine as one long tortuous road with no end in sight. It turns you into a fact-memorising, exam-taking machine. Nowhere is this more apparent than here in Cambridge, where some of the world's brightest students come and, adapting the most successful strategy to pass exams, turn into emotionless nerds.
And there comes a point when you forget what you're doing this for. What it was that drove you, idealistic and bright-eyed, to medical school in the first place. What you believed the medical profession could do.
But every once in a while, along comes something to remind you. Along comes something that tells you that there is a world out there, with real living breathing patients to treat. This, for me, came in the form of this snippet from Grey's Anatomy a few weeks ago. It is a clip that every medical student, indeed every healthcare professional, should watch: