Last night, I saw a few patients at our student-run free clinic that takes place on Wednesday nights. Every time I get a little bit better at one thing, something else just gets harder. For instance, I’ve figured out how to fill a syringe and deliver an injection at the proper 90-degree angle, but then I realize that I did none of the hard work to coo at and calm down the screaming toddler receiving the shot.
Or, I’ve learned to read a blood test and identify iron deficiency anemia, and I had even flexed my “depression screening-stress counseling” skills for the first time, but then I realize that I did nothing to determine the underlying cause of the patient’s anemia or counsel her for prevention. In a chart, it notes that a teenage girl had a negative pregnancy test a few weeks back: do I assume the provider at the time counseled her for birth control and safe sex, do I take that on myself or do I schedule a follow-up for more counseling?
Thus my feelings at the end of a clinic night are mixed: pride is followed by awareness of gaps and subsequent disappointment in myself. Do I end the night feeling optimistic or downtrodden? For this I’m grateful to our resident and attending, who witness the night and act as role models. Their support and encouragement come when it’s most needed: It’s okay, they say. I should feel good about it.
You know what does get easier each time? Chicken soup. That universally makes me feel good. This time I tried an ultra-simple recipe.
- 1 whole chicken or 1 lb chicken wings
- 2 celery sticks, halved plus 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 2 carrot sticks, halved plus 2 carrot sticks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped into large pieces
- 1 turnip or other root, chopped into large pieces
- salt and pepper
- rice, cooked separately
If your chicken comes stuffed with a bag of guts, make sure to remove that first. In a large stock pot, cover the chicken in water, then add all the vegetables except the chopped celery and carrot sticks. Boil all together for 90 minutes. Half an hour before serving, add in the rest of the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. You may want to skim the top of the soup as you go along, using a shallow spoon to discard any chicken fat that rises to the top. When the chicken is falling off the bone, use tongs to remove the entire chicken from the pot. Allow to cool, then shred with your fingers, discarding the skin and bones. (If you survived anatomy, you can survive this.) Serve with vegetables, shredded chicken and rice. (I often refrigerate the broth overnight and skim the layer of fat off in the morning. Another visceral reminder of the stuff that clogs your arteries!)
The Med School Cookbook offers a weekly account of the challenges and wonders of med school as seen through the eyes of a student. Each post includes a healthy and easy recipe designed for busy people on a budget. Read the daily blog here.