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A Medical Student's Reflection

July 29, 2019

To me, celebrating patient birthdays in the hospital is about celebrating patients as individuals. We take special time aside to value the core of who they are because sometimes our daily interactions with them may appear to be a blur. We remind them that we acknowledge they have families, identities, and lives beyond the less-than-ideal circumstances in which we meet them. In the process, we remind ourselves, as part of the healthcare team, that these patients are not just another chart in the workflow, but people, individuals with unique stories and hopes for the future. While I'm happy to see patients smile when we wish them "happy birthday", it is the ones who cry that make me reflect on and better understand the significance of what we do. We take a moment to celebrate life in a place where the focus is on illness. We bring a little happiness and levity to someone who is experiencing fear, uncertainty, and isolation. I believe this is one of the most fundamental levels on which we can help our fellow human beings, so I have learned to appreciate the patient birthday celebrations as an important way to take this responsibility seriously.

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