Picture of Grace DaoGrace Dao  is a second year medical student at Dalhousie University.


From the beginning of medical school, we are taught about balance –the balance between each individual’s autonomy and the public well-being, the balance between focusing on the present and always being asked to plan for the future, and the balance between investing our time and energy into becoming skilled practitioners and the famously important, ever elusive “work-life balance”. Yet despite the mentioned importance, each lesson often ends with the thought that “well, you just have to find the balance…”.

As if it were easy.

But the balance of medicine is like walking a tightrope strung between everything you value., each time never sure if you are going to fall. The balance of medicine is knowing that someday the wind picks up and it starts to rain, and some slip where others, must still walk the tightrope.

Why does it feel this way? Because I want to care for each person I see in front of me, a task difficult to integrate with population level health concerns. Because I want to help people in their most vulnerable moments in a way that is sincere and authentic, but I am under time constraints and professional boundaries that value other metrics of success. Because I want to live in the moment, but how can I when CaRMS applications are discussed during first year orientation? Because I want to invest the time to be knowledgeable and skilled in the career I have chosen, yet I know that if I don’t make time for myself, my family, and my faith I will become a shell of who I once was.

Medicine is a tightrope and I am no funambulist.

However, if I have learned anything during this high-wire living it is that this ceaseless search for balance will help me develop humility. Accordingly, I trust that the tightrope is headed somewhere, that the multiple decisions and internal wrestling, are leading towards someone who is able to act with integrity and empathy, even if I do fall.