A medical student at George Washington University Medical
Center in Washington, D.C.:
My name is Alexandra and I was born in Haiti. Growing up I always marveled at the thought that in the year 2000 I would only be twenty-five years old. This implied that I would be old enough to remember the old century and young enough to be open to all that the new one would bring in scientific discoveries, innovative ideas, and lifestyle changes.
While being very aware of the fact that the year 2000 is very close, I still have to pay attention to the present. I have to face challenges now because it is only by doing so that I could even fathom being strong enough to not be engulfed by the tidal wave of the twenty-first century.
The biggest challenge that I am faced with at the present time is going through medical school and keeping my inner being still intact. I remember that one of my mentors once told me that I had to do my best to ‘hold on to my soul’ as I went through the process of becoming a doctor. This truly is not an easy task in an environment that progressively dehumanizes by constantly subjecting one to the sometimes unbearable pressure to succeed, to do better than your peers, to learn more information than you ever thought existed and use it in an appropriate way. At the same time, they are asking you to be empathetic, compassionate, and respectful to patients at all times.
I realized that to protect myself from simply going through the motions of life and becoming dry inside, I had to stay very close to the feminine attribute of being able to continually give of one’s self. I saw that I had to be giving and caring first to myself, to not allow myself to simply switch to a survival mode that ultimately can transform into clinical depression.
This idea of nurturing the self allows me to create a world inside where no one can come in and move things around according to their belief system or values or lack thereof. This keeps the soul safe and steady and so becomes the place I draw from to be able to give the compassion that patients need.
My apprehension for the twenty-first century is that as women get more and more acknowledgment from society as to their ability to do
well in professions traditionally held by men, they will move away from that principle of giving and nurturing, seeing it as a sign of being too feminine, and so a sign of weakness. As for myself, I believe that it will not be possible for me to be a good physician if these attributes are lacking, especially in the twenty-first century. For one thing, we will be asked more than ever before to think about everything on a global scale. It is as if as women we will no longer be mothers or sisters, but ‘world mothers’ and ‘world sisters.’ As information grows to phenomenal proportions in the twenty-first century and is disseminated throughout the world, we might feel closer to each other.
Maybe what will be valued will be that moment of connection with another human being at the physician’s office. This will require simplicity on my part so that I can be a clear receptor that does not filter too much of what I hear through my beliefs but simply listens with the intention of wanting to understand and help. Spirituality is the tool that I use on an every day basis to bring back simplicity and stillness so that I can become a clear receptor.”
– Sue Patton Theole . “The Feminine Principle.” The Fabric of the Future: Women Visionaries of Today Illuminate the Path to Tomorrow, edited by M. J. Ryan, Conari Press, 1998.