I knew I moved through these spaces easily for many reasons, but being White is a big one that needs to be said out loud. And when you look and feel more comfortable in a space, it is easier to perform “well,” or to sound confident. This is directly related to what academic medicine characterizes as “objective” evaluations of students, and there is data to support this.
“Could you please hand Eric the needle driver?” As the scrub tech loaded up that blessed golden tool, I knew that I had just ascended within the realm of surgery.
I commented to the resident how satisfied the attending would be with the efficiency of his work. He just laughed and said “look” as he gestured down to his list of patients. I saw the name, and a sense of dread sank in during the rest of the silent walk down the hall.
Our patients deserve to have their battles acknowledged. That means believing your patients when they implore, “I am trying” and appreciating that we may encounter people at different phases of recovery.
“There’s a great neuro exam in room 5147,” my resident said as I dropped my bag in the call room. “Why don’t you go check it out?” I clutched my reflex hammer in one hand and googled the components of a neuro exam with the other as I headed towards the stairwell.
A hospital bed rolled in. It was Marvin. His last walk. On rounds we would say, “Twenty-two-year-old with gunshot wound to the head. Waiting for organ donation.”
Doing my elective at Klerksdorp-Tshepong (K/T) Hospital Complex in my hometown of Klerksdorp gave me the opportunity to become familiar with the health system, the medical personnel and health-related issues that are prevalent in my community. It also allowed me to draw comparisons between my home country of South Africa and the United Kingdom, where I have undertaken the clinical years of my medical degree.
I proposed a deal to my fellow student on our surgery rotation. “You can have all the other cases today if I get the laryngectomy.”
My agitation grew as I realized I needed to do something. I was a medical student training to be a doctor after all, right? Wasn’t I supposed to help alleviate the burdens of others?
When I was told I had a mass in my chest, I was shocked. Like most people who are told that they have cancer, I was blindsided. But it was even more shocking because I had been going to multiple doctors over a period of six months complaining of pain in my chest, right arm, and right shoulder.
A terminology guide to help you become more comfortable and familiar with the operating room. Hopefully this enhances the practical side of your experience!
I never expected to have such a similar experience of being immersed in a new language while remaining in the US exactly five years after my summer in France. But the hospital is truly a world of its own, complete with its own vocabulary.