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.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Needle Stick (the good kind)

Friends, Romans, countrymen... readers... potential lovers:

The good news is, I don't have Hepatitis B.

That I learned while completing my immunization update regimen required by all new entries to med school. Fortunately for me, I got a few of the necessary shots back before I went to Nigeria in '03 so this limited my required needle pricks to 3: a TB test (don't have that either), a Hep B blood screen, and a MMR vaccine.

A week or two ago I had sushi with a friend who just finished his first year in med. He told me that first year - first semester, more specifically - is pretty much a breeze. Enjoy the social life, he told me. So I plan to.

Until then, I'll continue enjoying my summer.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Six weeks left...

One piece of advice I have heard over and over is,

“Take it easy the summer before you start medical school.”

So I have. I’ve been spending time with friends, doing things that I love, and doing a bit of travelling – went to the Calgary Stampede and off to Vegas for a trip with the father next.

I was walking on cloud nine once I heard that I got in, and I’m still so excited to start. My first class is only six weeks away.

I was waiting eagerly for my registration package to arrive, and it did, on Wednesday; a 144-page booklet full of orientation week schedules, class schedules, forms to fill out, social events to sign up for (pub crawl and camping trip!!), and bios and photos of the entire 2nd-year class. We’ll be getting a similar facebook with bios for our class, once everyone submits their bio. Also, we have a 106-page orientation booklet to read, too.

It’s been incredible reading the 450-character summaries of the other students – if that’s any indication, come September I am going to be surrounded by a large number of outstanding individuals. But something else that I picked up from the bios of these students – virtually a snapshot of the lives of a couple hundred people who made the medical school cut – is that medical school admissions committees don’t just accept people who have done the typical ‘pre-med’ thing; volunteering in a hospitals and taking a Biology major. Rather, it’s clear that each of these people have incredible life experiences, they have done something impress (regardless of it is science-related or not), and so many of them have taken lots of time off between undergad and med school to do things they love. As well, everyone has taken a really unique path to get into medicine. One guy in the class studied electrical engineering, then in his masters he focused on the engineering side of medical imaging, which got him interested in becoming a doctor.

So the waiting continues. Not much before the whirlwind hits; I’ve had to set up an appointment for immunizations, and have to start looking into buying equipment (stethoscope, otoscope, opthalmascope) and textbooks and submitting all these forms. Not too exciting yet… but I still can’t wait!

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