I had been invited to the general surgery journal club. In the sweltering heat of a southern summer, I dressed as crisply as possible because I had no idea what to expect. While I embraced this opportunity, I had only been invited because another medical student had fallen ill.
In the operating room, a man immediately recognized and greeted me / Even though I wore a surgical mask. / His welcoming expression was familiar to me, but I couldn’t pinpoint how I knew him.
I take a deep breath / to calm myself / before walking into the storm / of OR shadowing.
Blood flakes / fall onto the /blue, sterile field from / crimson-smeared green / light grips.
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.
Draped the head and steadied the bed / For the life-saving aneurysm clipping, / I stop thinking of my former life.
I float in an ocean of sterile cerulean. / In this deep of drapery and gowns, / One could swim out and never see the shore.
Though the white coat’s role in medicine today is complex — to some, a respected symbol of medicine’s history; to others, a antiquated relic of a paternalistic past — few medical students or frontline residents would deny this emblematic item one major utility: a source of pockets.
Some of my friends and family are really fascinated when I tell them I’m on my third-year surgery rotation. It is hard to convey how glamorous and inspiring it is, so I’ve written a short summary of a morning in the operating room.
Little girl / in the pink hospital gown / sits in a windowless room.
We wield the privilege of the scalpel, / Slice skin, / Cauterize the cutaneous, / Disrobe the depths of disease.