Meraki: Heart + Medicine


“meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective) This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.”

Translating the Untranslatable, NPR—

What does it mean to practice a whole-hearted version of medicine?

Over the four days I spent at Telluride, the idea of full-hearted-ness came to me over and over again. I could see it in the looks of concentration and dedication in the residents, nurses, and medical students. I could hear it in every talk that told an important story or illustrated a new point. More than anything, though, you could feel it—feel the deep, deep importance of what taking care of patients in the best way possible meant for everyone in the room.

This long-lost word popped up: Meraki. To put a “something of yourself” into what you’re doing. I don’t know if it is possible to practice medicine and not do this. As a rising 2nd year medical student, I have basically only had to put studying into medicine, which is its own challenge, but which does not require the same type of heart that being in the hospital, caring for the sick necessitates. I could see the difference that experience makes in the way the residents and nurses came with a passion for patient safety and experience, and desired to leave with something actionable to do immediately. They were, above all, invested.

I am not sure what my experience with Telluride will lead to when I begin to practice in a hospital, but I do know it has shifted my vision and changed how I see a future practice. If anything for certain, it has given me role models in the residents and nurses I spoke with. These are people who have given their hearts to their patients, and witnessing that changed my ideas about medicine more