Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Maybe I'm not cut out for this... maybe I should think about quitting...

This post was actually written around March, about 6 months into my third year.

I'll admit it. For a while there, in the middle of third year, I wasn't sure if this medicine thing was right for me. Just look at this line from a post I wrote back in January:

as hard as I am being worked right now, I'm doing what I love, and worked hard to be able to do.
Yeah, it sounds chipper and rosy, but in all honesty, I didn't actually say I enjoyed third year... I was really just trying to convince myself that I should enjoy what I'm doing.

At that point, third year was really starting to wear on me, and I was almost ready to throw in the towel. I try really hard not to complain, but I was ready to write a post similar to one of the many I have found on other medical blogs, featuring such depressing tidbits as: "Medicine has made me a shitty person" and "Times I muttered “kill me now” under my breath [during third year]: 84,239." (In fact, I found so many tidbits like this back in the day that I made a list).

There were a bunch of reasons I was feeling this way. A few: The shifts are so long. It's really hard to have a life while you're in med school. The finals are demoralizing, and you leave almost every one thinking you failed. It's embarassing when you feel like the custodian knows more about treating patients than you do. You have barely enough time to do your hospital work and call shifts, let alone study outside of them. You are in a huge amount of debt. You're on call whenever you want to be doing something fun with your friends. You keep making mistakes. The list goes on...and on.

But of all these, the biggest reason I wanted to quit:

I was sick and tired of feeling like I don't know anything at all.

Every day, I'd see patients and think I knew what was going on, and then realize I had no idea. Even if I knew what medical condition they had, I didn't know the basics on treatment - I mean the very basics - such as which IV fluid to run or if I should even start an IV, let alone how to treat the condition. Most of the doctors supervising me were nice about it, but I still felt like an idiot.

This is especially tough to handle when you have done two years of medical school, and worked your butt off to pass those exams, and feel like you have accomplished something by passing two years of medical school, completing a four-year degree before med school, and by even just making it into med school. But no. You show up on the wards, and then realize how very, very little you know.

Like I've said before, now I understand why some doctors are assholes.

I know I said I don't like to complain much, and actually, the only reason I am willing to vent about this is because I don't feel this way anymore. In fact, over the last month or two, I've come to a realization - I am actually enjoying what I'm doing.

Slowly but surely, the passion I had for all this - the same passion I felt back when I was a pre-med - is coming back.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened. It might have been when I did a full history and physical on a patient and then realized that I had learned a lot about those and could do a pretty decent one now. It might have been when I was chatting with an inquisitive nursing student who knew about as much as I did when I started third year, and realized that I've actually learned something this year. Most likely, though, it was when I thought I knew what was going on with a patient... and actually did get it right... and actually had an idea about what type of treatment they needed.

That's exactly it. After 4 years of high school, 4 years of undergrad, and 2.5 years of med school, I'm finally starting to be able to do what I've trained for for so long.

I'm finally starting to play doctor.


Tele Jane said...

Even I had absolutely no love left for 'being-a-doctor' once I entered my Med School...I used to try hard, waste a long time just thinking whether I wanted to do it anymore. Trying to find out reasons to justify my taking-up of this field. And never could I find any satisfactory answers.

But, just a few time spend in the wards & just a few serious-histories & OPDs have re-ignited in me, the desire to be a Doc. (Not the histories that we copy from their tickets.)

I do feel, that the earlier they allow us to interact with patients, the better bonding we'll have wid our profession.
Learning starts when we see the patient ourselves, not by merely mugging it up from a book.

Gud luck, as a Doctor !! :-)

Weilanna said...

I'm new to the online medical community (very addictive), but just have to say, I'm in love with your blog. So, so encouraging. And I'm definitely following some of the advice in your post about medical blogs.

In response to this entry: Even as a college student, I sometimes feel like I'm learning at the same rate my 80-year-old grandmother learns English, and it's so easy to lose sight of what I'm learning for. I guess it's nice to know that you can be unsure now of whether something is right for you, even after three years of medical school, but it still might turn out to be the right decision.

Thanks for sharing such fantastic thoughts and stories! :)

CountyRat said...

Don't worry because you feel that you do not know enough. It is when you think that you know enough that you need to pause for a little reality check.

I envy your future patients.