“I want to help people…” (-.-)

…it’s become one of phrases that is beautiful and heartwarming to hear from people, yet will immediately cause a groan of hatred and anger from medical school interview panels.


It’s quite sad really that such a noble sentiment is viewed by medics in such a negative way. But if you had to read hundreds thousands just too many personal statements which all contain that phrase (many of which will be rejected), then I can understand how subconsciously you would link “I want to help people…” with the thought “that’s not good enough to get into med school“. Good old Pavlovian classical conditioning: you CAN teach old dogs interviewers new tricks…

(WARNING: Next part involves a great deal of philosophical and serious ethical questions…continue at your own peril.)

Today, as I was waiting for a bus, I saw a dalmatian (let’s call them Rolly…^o^) tethered up to a post nearby, whining and barking a lot towards a specific direction. On quick inspection of Rolly, I couldn’t see any wounds or any signs of a physical ailment…but the whining especially made me want to approach it and see what was going on to upset this dog so much. I can say with pride a LARGE AMOUNT of pride that I had already taken a few steps towards the dog before I stopped myself…


This dog is clearly distressed…what if it misinterprets attacks me? (I doubted the inter-species value of my super amazing med school communication skills training…)

Then my bus arrived and I decided that Rolly had attracted enough public attention that am sure someone would have gotten involved if their owner did not return. So I left for my communication venepuncture skills session.

The point is that young naive me would have approached that dalmatian WITHOUT HESITATION…which makes me ask “Was I right to hesitate and walk away?”

Am I a coward and a hypocrite? My hesitation arguably shows weakness and undermines the sentiment of wanting to help. I also should not have assumed that someone else would take care of the situation…and on hindsight, I should have stayed and made sure that the owner returned soon for Rolly…I felt so relieved to find that Rolly was not there on my way back home.

But then again, you could argue that if I stopped for every person who signalled that they needed help, then I’ll never finish med school…better off volunteering for multiple charities than finishing med school.
Someone once suggested the following thought to me:
“Everyone needs help and if you start making yourself responsible for ALL of them, then it’s a slippery slope. You can’t help everyone all the time…

Let’s have a look at the individual whose words I just paraphrased:


…getting back to the issue of Rolly:
There is no absolutely right or wrong answer here to my question of “Was I right to hesitate and walk away?”ignore those many ignorant close-minded people who insist that there is one.
All I know is that young naive me is definitely sad over my actions…and that makes me sad. I want to say that if it happened again, then I’ll definitely do things differently…

P.S: On my way home today, saw an elderly homeless gentleman (I call him Cain and he wanders around my neighbourhood a lot, not bothering or troubling anyone) sitting quietly staring out to sea, but obviously a little cold. Without hesitation, I walked to the McDonald’s 5 mins away and grabbed a burger and a coffee…won’t bother with the rest of the story because it is irrelevant…but young naive me smiled again…(^.^)

P.P.S: When I got home today and turned on the tv, the first thing I saw was an advert asking for donations to supply water to people in Africa…I changed the channel…(>.<).
This is going to be hard…


One comment

  1. finallyamedic · January 3, 2017

    I go through this “guilty mind” everyday… but hey, there’s only so much you can do 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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