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Ilana Birnbaum is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of Toronto.

 

This work represents some of my reflections during my 6 week Surgery rotation as a third year medical student. While I enjoyed this rotation and learned a great deal about surgery, and clinical care more broadly, I largely felt anonymous. I felt hidden away behind my surgical mask, cap, gown, and gloves.

Even when I was not physically wearing this personal protective gear, I felt as though there was a distance of sorts between myself and the patient. This lack of identity seemed reciprocal. As I felt anonymous to my patients, they too had an element of anonymity in my eyes. My consults in the emergency department were focused, follow-up appointments in clinics were concise, and rounding on inpatients in the mornings was reduced to a few yes or no questions. The majority of my time spent with a given patient was when the patient was under anesthetic.

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