Sunday, July 30, 2006

Selected Highlights from Mostly Recent Medical Student Blog Posts that Make me Somewhat Apprehensive About My Future as a Medical Student and Resident

I’ve been taking advantage of my summer off. How? Well, among other things, I’ve been sleeping lots. It’s something I do in empathy for my future self.

Every time I wake up and I’m just a little bit tired, I think to myself, “Why did I choose a career where sleep is a valuable commodity?!”

I’m getting that drift after getting the hint from recent medical student blog posts that medicine and residency aren’t a walk in the park, by any means. The TV show Scrubs (which I’ve watched a lot of downloaded episodes lately) tries to demonstrate this, but unfortunately I spend more time laughing at Dr. Cox’s demeaning attitude towards J.D., rather than thinking “That WILL be me, in JD’s spot, some day.”

Just to add credence to my point, here are what I will call Selected Highlights from Mostly Recent Medical Student Blog Posts that Make me Somewhat Apprehensive About My Future as a Medical Student and Resident. I could abbreviate that to read S.H.M.R.M.S.B.P.M.S.A.A.M.F.M.S.R. or something like that, but that wouldn’t make matters any less complicated. Think of it as a Grand Rounds, of crappy med school stories (Grand Rounds is a weekly compilation thing that the community of avid medical bloggers likes to do). It’s complete with citations.

I’d say that I hope you appreciate the hard work I put into this, but to be honest, it wasn’t that hard, considering that I didn’t have to search high and low for these quotes. I simply went down my list of bookmarks of med student blogs. And every blogger in my list had a quote that I used. Every single one.


Selected Highlights from Mostly Recent Medical Student Blog Posts that Make me Somewhat Apprehensive About My Future as a Medical Student and Resident

  • “Times I muttered “kill me now” under my breath [during third year]: 84,239 –
  • “How to survive intern year…If you’re hurting, that means you’re still alive.” -
  • “In medicine, you only see the very worst of the world. Those are the folks that need our help. And it drains you. It eats at you at night.” (this from a series on this blog called “Don’t Become a Doctor”) –
  • “100 Things I Won't Miss About Med School” too much to post here, but you get the idea –
  • “I'm a surgical intern. I chose to be a surgical intern. I want to be a surgeon. However, this is hell on earth. Literally. Nothing else comes close. Trust me. I promise you nothing else comes close.” –
  • “I'm three weeks into my internship. going on my sixth straight day of 16 hour night shifts … i haven't slept more than 6 hours per night in the last 3 weeks. i've lost 11 pounds, probably because i have time to eat an average of once per day. i'm lonely. i'm exhausted. i'm scared of the attendings. and i'm wondering if it's too late to be a kindergarten teacher or starbucks barista.” --
  • “Medicine has made me into a shitty person.” –
  • After attending to three in-flight patients in two flights: “I have resolved that from now on, I will fly with an iPod in my ears, cranked up so loud I cannot hear a single overhead announcement ever again.” --
  • A close second from the same blog: “Nobody is ever happy to see me. They are afraid of me, I think. They want very much to talk to me, but they are deathly afraid of what I will say.”
  • “If I wasn't so tired, this would kind of suck. But right now, all I really want to do is go to sleep…” (I used this quote because I couldn’t find the one I read a while ago about working at literally the exact opposite times as her husband, so she doesn’t see him for days on end) --
  • “If I have learned anything in medical school, it is this: if your pager is going to go off, it will inevitably do so within a 5 minute time range of lying down in bed.” -
  • “Around midway through my third year, I hit a wall. I had made a mistake and it was all very unfair. I did not want to do medicine anymore. It was a bad decision. Wrong career choice.” --
  • “Trauma sign-out to the day team starts at 6am; we sign back out to the night team at 6:30pm; this lasts for up to an hour. By the time I get home, it's time to go to sleep.” –
  • And my most-quoted saying: “M.D. = Massive Debt.” – source unknown

Ok, I think that’s it for now. I’m sure there are many more but I want to go grab a coffee with a friend. While I still have a life.

Of course, once you read the context of these posts you find out that most of these people love what they are doing and wouldn’t give it up; in fact, despite some very specific implications to the contrary, they haven’t.

But at the same time, it might have been nice to know this stuff, heck, some of this stuff before I applied for med school. Why did I only start reading this once I got accepted? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not regretting it. I’m looking forward to it. But now I’m feeling as though I shouldn’t look forward to it as much as I do. Hopefully my keener first-year spirit has been sufficiently broken by reading these, and I will approach the upcoming years of my life with a healthy dose of respect. And yes, reading over and over about how med students, interns, and residents constantly feel like they know nothing even though they have 2, 4 and more years of med training behind them (respectively) is a motivation for me to study hard once I do start.

But until then, I think I’ll focus on sleeping.


Anonymous said...

This is a question we ask ourselves frequently: why didn't I find out more about what this was going to be like before I got into it? And if I had known, would I still be here? There are some classic books, Intern Blues, House of God, etc, which are guaranteed to make any med student depressed; never read them right before a test. I think the trick is that the people who somehow manage to get an inside view, never come inside. But you can never know what it's really like till you're in, in too far to back out. ;S

But, when you choose a residency, that's done with open eyes. So when I'm a sleepless, downtrodden surgical intern, I won't be able to say, I didn't know what I was getting into. Which just proves that better information would not really have prevented us from choosing this career.

Have fun shadowing. :)

incidental findings said...

Thanks for the link! If it's any consolation, I can't think of any other job I'd rather be doing (except maybe doorman, or Starbucks barista).

Anonymous said...

Hey, found you through litlebanana(LJ).

I'm a 6th yr med student on a break from Med.

Yes, I hated it and it made me depressed and I have no idea how I'l cope in the future but on this year off I've discovered..
Med is the most interesting thing around and I can't see myself doing anything else...
Most 40yr od doctrs I see are happy.. the 20 and 30 yr olds aren't... but the 40 yr olds are.. So there's light at the end of the tunnel. :)