Monday, September 13, 2010

I Almost Forgot I'm Going to be a Doctor

A strange thing seems to happen throughout your 1st year in medical school: you forget you're actually going to be a doctor at some point.  You get so caught up in studying anatomy, biochemistry, histology, cell biology, etc. that you lose sight of WHY you're studying all of that stuff.  Instead, you spend all of your time studying (or, if you're me, you spend all of your time reading skeptical blogs and books about the financial collapse, and playing Halo or Call of Duty until 2-3 days before an exam).  You don't really experience much outside of the classroom.

However, you really need to have a lot of that basic medical science down before you can even approach anything clinically-oriented.  In my yearly meeting with a faculty member the other day, I explained how utterly useless most 1st year medical students are when they attempt to give us some amount of clinical exposure.  Sure, they can take 1st years into the hospital to interview patients and get a history, but the patients tend to know more about their disease than we do.  I've joked a few times that at this stage in my medical career, I'm a lot like my uncle when it comes to computers -- I [think I] know just enough to be dangerous.  Some schools brag about offering clinical exposure in the first year, but realistically, it's basically like show & tell back in kindergarten.  You get to see some pretty machines, neat disease processes that you still don't understand, and meet some interesting people.  But don't plan on the encounters changing your life or enhancing your understanding of the science you're trying to learn.

But a funny thing happened at the beginning of this semester.  The professors snuck up on me and reminded me that I'm actually going to be a doctor.  This year, I get to do some exciting things.  I see at least one patient every week to work on history-taking and physical exam skills.  More often than not I even have a clue as to what's going on with them and how that disease has progressed.  Each week we have a special session about a particular specialty where we learn about the specialty and have some sort of clinically-oriented experience.  For example, when we had the session for plastic surgery, I got to practice my suturing skills (on a pig's foot).  It was comforting to know that after spending a semester dissecting a cadaver last year, I actually did pretty well in stitching skin back together.  It was too little too late for the pig though.

So, since my medical school did me the kindness of reminding me that I'm in medical school to do more than just learn neuroanatomy and pathology this year, I'm going to follow suit and try to post a little more often about medically relevant topics.  I'm sure I have a few readers who are interested in the medical school perspective on more than just science topics, so I'll try to include some of that when I can.  Considering my ADHD nature, however, I'm confident I'll still bounce around quite a bit between that, skepticism, what I'm reading on my Kindle, and whatever else happens to hold my attention while I'm at the computer.  I hope you enjoy it!

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