The night before my white coat ceremony in mid-September, I took a drive around Worcester to clear my head. The windows were down, and I could feel the breeze on my face as my car picked up speed along Route 9.
I tripped into the practice clinic room at 12:05 p.m. cradling my cold coffee and explaining to my preceptor that, despite being a first-year medical student, I did not own a stethoscope yet.
“So, how would we test for PBC?” my professor asks from the front of the room.
If gross anatomy has taught me any topics, they are the sheer beauty and capability of the human body.
Recently I have let myself consider how wonderful of a physician Mary Oliver would have been, and how wonderful a medical school classmate.
After our first year of coursework, our LC mentors asked us to write a confidential letter to our “2016 self,” or ourselves at the time just before we began medical school. Right away, I recalled that at that time, I was a nervous wreck.
It was not until our second semester of medical school that we started gross anatomy. Finally, I became that quintessential medical student walking home too tired to change out of my formaldehyde-tinged scrubs.
Second year? Could that be? It felt wrong. It threw off my whole identity. “I’m just a first-year,” had been my motto for the past twelve months.
The opportunity to be immersed in learning the stories behind the health of patients is one of the things that drew me to medicine, and, indeed, it still intrigues me. More importantly, I was (and still am) intrigued by the opportunity and challenge of using the multiple streams of information patients present with to make functional improvements in their lives.
Medical school hit me, and I mean it hit me hard. I would describe it as a boulder rolling down a hill straight towards me, multiplied by ten, and that is how scared and unprepared I was for my first few weeks of medical school.
It’s okay to feel in the cadaver lab. It’s what your first patient wanted for you.
The medical school recruiters and academic advisers had conveniently forgotten this detail during my educational overview when I originally signed up to be a physician.