As a medical student deeply interested in education, books, and writing, I try to read widely, and am always looking for reading material at the intersection of these interests. Thus when a friend of mine described Robert Coles as a gifted writer, one who placed great emphasis on the value of stories to the practicing clinician, he seemed like the perfect fit. I had previously read some of his shorter pieces, but my friend suggested I read The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination.
Since grade school, I’ve been blessed to play sports at different levels. Some were through organized clubs while others were at the local gym or the park nearby. Each sport required that I commit time and considerable effort to learning a unique set of skills. Some placed emphasis on hand-eye coordination, while others required endurance and footwork.
After a day of screams and sorrow and blood, / Every drop of my compassion leached from me. / Racing home to beat the dawn…
One thing I’ve always associated the holiday season with (besides lots of yummy food) is singing — anything and everything from Christmas caroling to hymns at church. I’ve never had a very good voice, but one thing I always noticed was that I enjoyed myself every time I sang. However, I always chalked it up to the situation rather than the act of singing itself.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects in the culture of medical school is the integrative class of students that survive together through the obstacles in this metamorphosis. Individually and as a collective whole, we trudge through the same curricular rigors, learning to balance life, work, and all that in between. Many of us form significant bonds with our fellow classmates, whether through celebration or suffering. Through our mutual bonding, what quickly becomes apparent to us is the diverse background and hidden talents that make each big family unique and multifaceted. Beyond our scientific acumen, some of us juggle side-hobbies as musicians, some as chefs, some as craftspersons, others as comedians — and the torrent of talent runs abundant.
Everyone loves Katniss Everdeen. What’s not to love about the strong, independent, bad-ass woman? Given that exams and Step 1 are looming closer and closer, I’ve been feeling less and less sure of myself and wishing that I could channel my inner Katniss Everdeen and emerge victorious against the Capitol–and by the Capitol, I mean exams). When sharing these thoughts with a friend, it occurred to me that I could step into Katniss’s shoes for a day by taking archery lessons. So, my friend and I gathered a group to see if any of us could hypothetically be the next winner of The Hunger Games.
Mental health has been on my mind lately, but not only because of the “Physician Mental Health” and “Resiliency Training” lectures we’ve been receiving during this block. A few weeks ago, one of my best friends from home texted me to say one of her medical school classmates had committed suicide a few days ago.
Delirium is a bread-and-butter presentation. The differential writes itself — stroke, infection, intoxication, electrolyte imbalances, shock, organ failure. The intellectual exercise this invites was practically invented for medical students, even if the final diagnosis (dehydration secondary to gastroenteritis) and its treatment (fluids) were relatively mundane.
For most first-and second-year medical students, residency is only in their imagination, and it is not truly until the third and fourth years that it becomes something they can imagine very well. It is the mystical land of having ‘made it’: getting through medical school, having the title MD or DO finally applied to you, and being thrown head first into the clinical world.
The considerations in choosing a specialty are multiple. There are matters of lifestyle and compensation, of competitiveness and rigor. There is the push-and-pull of breadth versus depth, of procedure versus prose.
One of my bucket-list goals before I die is to climb Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro. Where did this come from? I’m not entirely sure. Yet something about climbing the tallest two mountains in the world has always appealed to me; I like challenges, and I can see no greater challenge to my physical and mental fortitude. However, even though I try to work out regularly, I’ve never gone rock climbing in my life. Therefore, keeping this bucket-list goal in mind, I decided to grab some friends and go rock climbing for my next adventure.
The white coats and patient gowns that confer the implicit power dynamic of the physician-patient relationship are not to be found here in the operating room. This place has neither the tolerance nor the patience for this subtle symbolism. Here, on the other side of the Rubicon, the rules are stark, the stakes laid bare. The patient lies naked on the table, arms extended on boards, Christ-like, as the surgeon holds the knife handle and plays God.