I awoke to a phone ringing frantically, must have been a Whatsapp call. My father yelling from downstairs, “He passed.” And my mother, opening my bedroom door before my eyes had fully opened, stood there with her cellphone out, lips quivering, and eyes searching, “He’s gone.” My grandfather had passed away.
In November, I hated medicine. The gray clouds that watched from the sky followed me day after day — to my car, into the hospital, to my car again, and back inside my home. At times the haze was tolerable; an inconvenience, a bother, but no real trouble. Other times, it was suffocating.
When I enter the examining room, Mr. Jones is visibly distressed. His chest heaves as he struggles to catch his breath. I glance at his charts and make note of his chief complaint: chest pain. After a brief introduction, I fire off a barrage of well-rehearsed questions: When did the chest pain first begin? Does it radiate outwards or stay localized in one spot? Is there anything that makes the pain better or worse?
As a fourth-year medical student, I enjoy introducing myself to patients as the “extra eyes and ears of the team, so feel free to tell me anything you forgot or would like to address, even if you think it’s irrelevant or burdensome. I will be your advocate.” As I establish rapport with them, the walls come down, and they often provide important information that helps my team provide the best care for them.
Being a premedical student is largely about the numbers — your MCAT score, your rank in your graduating college class, whether that subpar performance in organic chemistry will lethally impact your medical school application. If you’re anything like me, your time as a premed was spent encapsulated in a crippling and disorienting world of anxiety. I remember scanning Internet posts to confirm just how underwhelming my application to medical school was in comparison to those of other “more qualified” students. I read of students who had managed to four-oh all their prerequisite classes while achieving a perfect score on the MCAT and maintaining an enviable balance of humility and self-confidence, and I was understandably daunted.
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.
Despite its omnipresence, Time seemed to be in reliably short supply throughout the year. I keenly felt its absence: less time to cook and clean. Less time to exercise; less time to date. Less time to read and to write.
I wrote this poem during my first year as a medical student while learning physiology. I was struck by the concept of human growth mechanisms. I found it fascinating that our organs grow and change in size through such concrete cellular mechanisms. Growth is such a universal and fundamental characteristic to living beings, and I wanted to play with both language and form to contrast a scientific explanation of growth to the emotional growth that occurs when we experience pain or suffering.
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?
Medical school is terrifying. This is not something I feel like I am supposed to admit — or let alone feel — because it conveys insecurity. For all the learning we compress into our days as students, we operate in a constant state of not knowing. Perhaps paradoxically so, uncertainty itself seems to be guiding us down the path laid before us. It is as if we are walking with our hands stretched out in front of us, groping in darkness. Every day, we face the unfamiliar, not just in terms of knowledge, but also the larger questions of whether we are turning down roads that feel true to us.
“It’s time to wake up boss, please open your eyes. / There’s much work to be done and we’re ready to advise.” / Curiosity propelled me to confront my kooky staff. / One flipped through a dictionary, the other spoke on his behalf.
The humble beginnings of in-Training often obscure the grand aspirations of the magazine. Since the first article on July 2, 2012, we have published 1000 articles from 450 different authors, curated by our team of over 40 editors, representing 152 different medical schools throughout the world. This is quite the accomplishment for a magazine that was born out of a simple conversation.