“What’s the matter with everybody?” asked Mrs. Palmer, a hopelessly demented woman with water wells for eyes. She had just endured her third consecutive tongue-lashing by the bulldog masquerading as a nurse anesthetist.
When I tell people I am studying medicine and hope to be a surgeon, there tends to be a general agreement that I have made a good career choice, I have chosen a respected, solid field of work and will be guaranteed a “job for life.”
It’s that dreaded season again: spring. Whether you’re a fourth-year getting ready to cross the country for residency or a first-year readying for exams, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that spring is a stressful time for most of us.
The definition of “getting old” has changed dramatically in recent years. Due to the remarkable advances in medical technologies and interventions, the average life expectancy in the United States has been rising exponentially over the past 50 years. But while our bodies are lasting longer, our brains are still susceptible to the cognitive decline associated with aging.
Sunrise on the psych unit. A tentative, yawning flicker, a wash of tired fluorescence, and the hallway shudders to life—or something approximating life anyway.
When we enter medical school, we bring with us high hopes, dreams, ambition and a passion to help those in need. We radiate vibrant energy and have an insatiable thirst for knowledge.
Despite the fact that it’s fairly warm for this time of year, I was feeling in the spirit to try a winter-themed activity that wouldn’t require travel or cost a significant amount of money. The most obvious activity, given those requirements, was ice-skating.
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.