The first thing I noticed entering Betty’s room was her walls. They were papered, nearly from floor to ceiling, with photographs of celebrities. Taylor Swift, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran all stared back at me.
My eyes have adjusted. Faint streaks of light from the edges of my window illuminate the darkness of my room. I toss onto my side and my gaze drifts to the shadows on the wall. I make shapes out of them, like making shapes out of passing clouds.
I expect the attending to leave the room after ripping off her gloves and gown. Instead she grabs a clean towel and gently wipes the patient’s forehead with the soft tenderness of a mother. I decide that this is the kind of doctor I want to be.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m just a med student. The rest of the team will be here shortly, they’ll explain everything to you.” We wait in silence.
Perhaps the single most awkward conversation that a third-year medical student can have with an attending physician is the one that begins with the attending asking, “So, what medical specialty are you interested in going into?”
I know that being a third-year medical student is like being a transplanted kidney. One starts the day in one body. School is composed of lecture halls and written exams. However, the world has shifted by the end of the day, and shockingly, one’s old body is not present.