So… About Surgery (the clerkship)

Yeah, about that, it was quite the experience.

I went into this rotation about 99% sure I did not want to enter a surgery residency and I left the surgery rotation 100% sure that I will not enter a general surgery residency (maybe a surgical subspecialty?).

My preconceived vision included: long hours, angry/mean residents, shark-like attendings, hawk-like scrub techs, being continuously pimped, and generally hating every moment for eight weeks.

My post rotation recollections include: long hours, generally helpful/fair/demanding residents, absent attendings, mostly nice scrub techs if you get on their good side, hardly any pimping, and not minding most moments for eight weeks.

What I did like about surgery: I did get to see some patients, the residents weren’t terrible despite their seemingly terrible lives, a good operating room is very team oriented and efficient (two things I like), I got to refresh my anatomy knowledge, I enjoyed working with orthopedic residents at the trauma hospital.

The ortho residents were a big surprise to me. They were super cool and let me help them do a lot of stuff and taught me about what they were doing.

Stuff I didn’t like: I didn’t see enough patients, talking to patients too long is frowned upon, any operation over one hour, the trauma hospital.

Not liking the trauma hospital was a big surprise to me. It was the last two weeks of my rotation and I had been looking forward to it for the previous six weeks. I started on five, 12h day shifts, had a day off and then worked five, 12h night shifts. We (myself and another med student) worked in the trauma ED and also got to participate in any shock traumas. I went into all of this thinking that I may be interested in ED because of the fast pace and variety. I left this rotation thinking that IF I ever do ED, it will never be in a big city. I will have another post breaking down all of the reasons for this later, so stick around.

Overall I learned a lot on this rotation about medicine, myself, and my future choice of a specialty.

Next, onto Pediatrics!


The beginning of the end

Today was a momentous occasion. I saw my first real patient “alone!”

Other momentous facts from the past two months:

  1. I passed Step 1!
  2. I got oriented to clerkships
  3. I started clerkships (on surgery)
  4. I had my first day in the hospital (yesterday)

So far, so good. More later.

Stage fright

Have you ever been in a situation, under pressure, and you just “go blank?” Well, during a recent standardized patient encounter, I did. During our encounters, we are observed by an upper year student and graded on a checklist (they are in another room watching and listening via a camera and microphone), graded by the standardized patient, and normally (but not this time) graded by a faculty member to whom we present the case.

After learning the many facets of the neurological exam and hanging onto that knowledge for dear life before it slipped out of my ear, upon entering the room and introducing myself I completely froze up. After asking if the patient could tell me more about what was going on, I could not think of what to do next. This is the first time it has ever happened to such a great extent. It was the strangest and slightly terrifying feeling.

I stumbled through an HPI, started feeling better towards the end of the history, and felt like I had a grip by the end of the physical exam (although I forgot some things). All in all, it was definitely a learning experience that I hope not to repeat.

The good news is that this encounter was formative!

I haven’t posted in awhile…

I know, its been a long time. One of my goals for this blog was to be a record of my experiences during my medical school journey. So far, since my last post, school has kept me busy enough that the last thing I want to do on my down time is look at a computer screen, much less reflect back on the craziness. The record looks something like this: wake up, exercise, go to class, study, sleep, repeat. Hopefully I can elaborate more down the road.

I hope to post more frequently as I approach Step 1 both as a time to reflect on my first two years (already?!), and as a way to relieve some of the stress associated with the big day.

The weight of a white coat

Today, while preparing to practice my clinical skills, I reached into my locker and took out my white coat. My first thought was “wow, this thing has gotten heavy!” I then chuckled as that thought sunk in, while my coat is increasing in weight with more instruments and such, have I really stopped and thought about its true weight as a symbol?

At the end of our orientation week, my medical school held a white coat ceremony where we were presented our white coats in a formal fashion, recited the Hippocratic Oath, and received a charge from our speaker. We learned some of the history and the symbolism of the white coat, but I haven’t spent much time thinking about it since.

However, today I paused for a moment to ponder the weight of the coat that I was putting on. While many other practitioners wear white coats these days, in my mind it is the symbol of a physician. That’s how I have always thought of it, as an identifier, but as I progress in my journey towards an MD and think about my future practice and patients, I think it is so much more.

The white coat is heavy because of what it bears, both physically and figuratively. It bears the various instruments of the trade and whatever else can be crammed in its pockets. Figuratively, it bears the expectations of both its wearer and their patient, the hopes and fears of a patient, the responsibility and obligation of its wearer, the trust between both parties in the doctor-patient relationship, the experiences of all those who have worn it before me, the future of a profession at a crossroads- my future.

Is it a burden?

Burden def.- a load, especially a heavy one.

I’d say so, but that does not make it bad.

Some days, when I am exhausted from studying, it feels like it. To the burned out physicians that I read about, I am sure it is. It is a burden that we have chosen to bear for our patients. How we bear it is our choice. Hopefully, when I put on my white coat in the future, I will choose not to get dragged down and to, instead, lift the burden with joy.

A beginning

I  never thought that I would start a blog, but here goes nothing!

As you can tell from the title, I am a medical student. I am currently in my second semester of my first year in medical school and I wanted to start this blog for two reasons: 1. To document my journey through medical school and hopefully beyond. 2. To share with others my insight into medical education and voice my thoughts on and dreams for the future of healthcare.

I don’t claim to be the authority on the medical school experience, and my experience may be completely different those of my colleagues. I can already tell you that attitude and outlook play huge roles in surviving this adventure. I hope you will join me as I offer my take on the process of making tomorrow’s doctors.