When Being Broken Means Becoming Better

Jul 6, 2021 by

17 years ago on July 1, 2004, I put on my first long white coat, clipped a bulky black pager to its left front pocket and snapped a picture of myself standing before a full-length mirror.  

It was my first official day as a doctor.  

I started intern year of residency at Westchester Medical Center equipped with two black pens, three pocket-size “quick reference guides” and giant grey PalmPilot to look up every medication I was now legally allowed to prescribe. I had a naïve belief that four years of undergrad and four years of medical school had properly prepared me for this day, the day I would start changing the world, one patient at a time.  

I was so wrong.  

The next three years gutted me of everything I thought I knew, and then proceeded to shatter my very sense of self into a million worthless pieces.  

The days were long, the night shifts were longer, and whoever thought the 80-hour work week was doable had clearly never done one, much less three consecutive years of them.  

It seemed as if every day was a loss, and only seldom was there a win. The harder I worked, the more I failed.   

There was a limit to how many times I could say “I am sorry, there was nothing more we could do,” before I began to ask myself “is this really the place I am supposed to be?”  

I had lost hope in hope.  

But then slowly (so very slowly) residency stopped breaking me, and it was then I began building this doctor that I have become.   

And so what have I become? To start, I am a doctor who works tirelessly, I am a doctor who acquires wisdom, and perhaps, most important of all, I am a doctor who is (once again) filled with hope for every patient- regardless of circumstances, regardless of diagnosis and regardless of their often times terminal condition.  

And in the 14 years since completing residency I of course have been shattered again and again. Those first 6 months of 2020 alone left me in terrified pieces as I continued to care for patients- my most pervasive thought being “if I die now, my daughter Heather will never remember my face.”    

But now, instead of rebuilding the parts of me which were destroyed, I hand those fragments over to my patients and say “here, this is me, this is the part of me that cares for you. Carry it and know that in this, you are not alone.”  

I don’t know everything, and I know I never will, but I know that I am a very good doctor. 

To all of those who have entrusted themselves to my care… thank you, it has truly been an honor.  

And today, July 1, 2021, I can say with all confidence that I do change our world every single day, one patient at a time.  

Sarah Mildred Gamble, DO, is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine physician. In 2010 she founded Greenwich Pure Medical, LLC, a concierge medical practice in Greenwich, Connecticut. For the past 7 years, she has been consistently recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor in the New York Metro Area and as a Top Doctor In Concierge Medicine Across America. Her clinical interests and expertise focus on personalized primary medical and primary preventative care. She enjoys gardening (for which she has little skill), gluten-free baking (frequently lacking in taste) and trying to keep up with her 4-year-old daughter (which has proven to be quite difficult at the age of 45). Her website is www.GreenwichPureMedical.com and she can be followed on Instagram @greenwichpuremedical  

Thank You,  

Sarah Mildred Gamble, DO 
Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician