I stood in the airport bathroom stall as tears streamed down my face. Here I was, a thirty-something-year-old medical student coming undone by a couple ounces of milk pooled at my feet. This is definitely not something they teach us about in lecture.
Some of my friends and family are really fascinated when I tell them I’m on my third-year surgery rotation. It is hard to convey how glamorous and inspiring it is, so I’ve written a short summary of a morning in the operating room.
Here you are: the place that you have been attempting to achieve for many years. At this point, I am sure you have heard a lot of advice regarding your future. Many of those ahead of you have probably given you the ubiquitous “Enjoy fourth year!” advice before you enter the trenches that are residency.
Dear medical students, I’m sorry. You had just finished two years of didactic learning and couldn’t wait to feel like a “real” doctor. You were finally starting your clerkships, that is, finally working with patients and getting deep in the trenches.
Dr. Gary Shlifer, DO recently completed his residency training in internal medicine at Indiana University in Indianapolis, IN after attending medical school at Midwestern University (AZCOM) in Glendale, AZ. He is currently an Attending Physician in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up and attended UCLA for his undergraduate studies. He is passionate about sharing his experiences from his medical training and giving a voice to young physicians everywhere. Gary is also a regular contributor with Docs of Tomorrow.
How we respond to failure says a lot about who we are. In business, failure is often seen as a good thing. World-famous motivation speaker Tony Robbins likes to say, “You’re either winning, or learning.” He replaces the word losing with learning. We learn from our mistakes when we fail. Failing allows us to move forward in life, to grow into something better. Why is failure treated so differently in medicine?
You’re almost through with med school—the exams, the lectures, the rotations—but here’s where things get really real. Now it’s time to apply for residency. Don’t take your foot off the gas pedal yet, though. Residency applications are just as nuanced as medical school applications. They require plenty of preparation and attention to detail to ensure you have a successful match. A key difference, however, is that applicants and residencies are both trying to find an appropriate fit with each other.
How do you define an entrepreneur? You might have visions of bleary-eyed university students hunched over laptops in the dark, coding the next Facebook or of businesspeople starting a new chain of restaurants. As an entrepreneur, the only definition I’ve been able to relate to comes from Eric Ries, writer of Lean Startup: “someone who creates a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”
Everyone has heard of startups. For many of us, the term “startup” is a reference to technology companies in Silicon Valley. Companies like Google and Apple for example. These companies are so well-known to us because their products and services have and continue to significantly shape and define the world we live in today, from how we purchase almost everything we buy to how we communicate with almost everyone we know. But startups seem to have become more than just providers of goods and services — they’ve become lore of our capitalistic society: a standard for what it means to be truly successful.
Have you ever had a sinking feeling in your stomach when you are about to tell something to a patient or family member that might change their life forever? I had that feeling before speaking to the wife of my patient, Mr. Smith. It had only been one day since Mr. Smith was first admitted to the inpatient unit but regardless of how long the interaction is with a patient and their loved ones, some news is always difficult to deliver.
You see, when starting your anesthesiology clerkship it feels as if you are learning a completely new skillset and knowledge base. Of course you are drawing on common principles in physiology, pharmacology, and anatomy. But how they play out, and how you apply those concepts, are fresh. Here are some tips to maximize your learning, assist your resident and really start to appreciate the field.
The start of medical school is an exciting point in every student’s path toward finally becoming a physician. While you should be spending the majority of your day learning and part of each day marveling in the uniqueness of human anatomy and physiology, it is important for us to remain aware of the barriers to care that exist within the systems we train, and eventually practice in. But now more than ever, being a medical student with a penchant for innovation and entrepreneurship can lead to opportunities to create real change and impact real patients.