By Thy Pham, Edited by Nipuni Hapangama

As I sit in front of my sleek setup (all  Apple – Airpods, Mac, iPad Pro) I’m feeling nervous. 

Today marks my first OSPIA and first encounter with another life form since… I don’t know, March? 

But I digress. 

As I’m about to start, I realise I’m missing a key accessory. Namely, the one that rests on the shoulders of all doctors. I know what you’re thinking. Medical school debt, my roaring 20s, the lives of the many I will heroically save? Close, but no. It’s a Littmann Classic III, engraved with my initials and customised in a dashing caribbean blue. I pick it up and feel the weight of it around my neck. 

Then, I move in front of the mirror, gingerly place my phalanges under my chin and re-enact my best clinical skills, mustering all my confidence.

Hi there, howmayIaddressyou…could I auscultate you? haha jks…unless?

It takes the world not to fall in love with myself right now. All those hours of binging Grey’s Anatomy… it’s paid off. Truly, and utterly. Ali Abdaal’s shaking in his boots. Kharma Medic’s sobbing hysterically. I’m expecting an email from Talley and O’Connor asking me to be co-author soon.

The ticking clock brings me back to the matter at hand. Ah, my OSPIA. Intimate eye-to-eye contact through our dusty camera lenses.

My patient is strangely silent today. 

Now, I’ve met my fair share of shy patients but today’s one takes the cake. He’s sitting still, his eyes firmly fixated on me. Never have I felt so open, so bare, so…vulnerable. Yet I continue, asking pertinent open and closed questions whilst chanting SOCRATES in my head.

Yet again, my patient refuses to speak – he merely sniffles. There’s some sort of barking in the background. Taking this as the most prime opportunity to flex my P+ patient assessment and management through a non-flamboyant display of empathy, I humbly add: “I’m so sorry to hear that. That must be difficult for you.” My patient growls appreciatively.

God, I am so good at this. From my entry into the world through my mother’s 10cm dilated cervix, after extending my neck past the pelvic outlet, I knew. My journey into the world, welcomed with open arms, was indicative of a prosperous career.

I turn my attention back to the OSPIA. 15 minutes fly by quick and I find myself thanking the patient profusely. 

As I end the consultation, I flash a grin, treating my patient to a vision of my perfectly chiseled mandible. 

My patient barks excitedly and wags his tail.

Man, do I love golden retrievers.

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