I walked into the medical school this morning, happy to back in a place I’d not seen much of in a year and a half. I stopped midstride as I saw a sea of new faces sitting in the common area. The faces I saw were young and eager, full of promise, hope, and fear — clearly new first-years.
It struck me then, as I began to walk more slowly through the hallowed halls that had educated me. I am officially an old man.
I recalled walking into medical school for orientation four years ago. I can relive the emotions that roiled inside my chest. Eagerness to move forward, disbelief that I had made it, confidence that I would be the smartest, fear that I wouldn’t, and, most of all, angst of the unknown path on which I was treading.
I remember walking into our big lecture hall and sitting on the left sided batch of seats. I remember sitting there and watching my peers, wondering was kinds of MDs they will be. In a few short months, those peers will be MDs. I remember seeing those same people at a social event that evening imbibing copious doses of alcohol and wondering all the more.
I remember the drive to do well on my tests and get that honors, and the degree to which my self-worth was tied so intimately in the letter each course gave me. I recall the gnawing feeling in my gut when I didn’t get honors, or when I simply did “okay.” I smiled when I thought of the first time someone let me do something in the hospital and how cool it felt. I remember how uncool it felt when I had to do something after my fifth surgery call night.
That walk wasn’t a long one, but during it my mind walked the ups and downs of the three and a half years. I ran a discussion group for the first-years about a book they read. After I was done, one of them came up to me to talk. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, she reminded me of myself during my own first year. As I left I gave her a parting word of advice: “Don’t worry too much during med school. It ebbs and it flows, but ride it out and you’ll be just fine.”
My journey here will soon end. In a few months, I’ll be an MD. In a few more, I’ll be a resident. And sometime after that maybe I’ll be a good doctor. But I know that leaving this door only marks the next unknown path my feet will follow. And now I know I’ll be just fine.
The Fourth-Year Faux-cisian deals with the trenches of medicine, the dirty details and the inglorious scut, as well as with the sublime and transcendent moments. The posts I write are about medicine, humanism, life, philosophy, and most of all the ruminations of a young doctor-to-be as he embarks upon the transformative journey of becoming a physician while attempting to hold onto his humanity.