This past Friday was a day like any other day. Except, of course, that it marked the flipping of a very specific calendar – that of the KU medical school scholastic calendar. (Also, it was the first time I ate a real meal in days after being afflicted of the intestines for several days, but that’s for another post.)
Pre-meds, enter stage right. You are the new first years, and you may be green as husks of Iowa corn, but we all remember fondly being in your shiny new shoes (the ones that you bought with that new black suit for you interviews). You will wear your dippy short white coat with pride, you’ll buy a 500$ stethoscope and then put it on so that the ear bud thingys angle backwards, you will be absolutely clueless when your family and friends ask you for medical advice, and you will develop a bond with your new tablet computer so strong that it nearly achieves sentience. You’ll learn that medical school is difficult, but you have lots of support, and you can handle it. Go get em, greenhorns.
Earbuds forward, Dan.
First year boys and girls, you are now second year men and women, seasoned veterans of the process of imbibing whatever random facts are thrown your way, digesting them into a four week-sized cube, and smearing the contents of that cube all over a computerized exam every month. You have become a master of efficiently assimilating information into your tablet-human brain, such that it is now second nature. Congratulations, you machine, you. Now step back and start fitting all those facts into the big picture. And don’t forget to be a human being
Second year fact-finders, you have crossed the Rubicon of Step 1 and will shortly enter into the foreign lands of real people with real problems that unfortunately can’t be found in real books, which you wouldn’t read anyway since you are Real Tired all the time. You will be asked what specialty you want to go in to eight thousand times by two thousand people, who are generally very kind, very well-intentioned, and will very promptly forget and subsequently ask you the same question at least three more times. Carefully develop an enthusiastically honest and thoughtful answer to this question, and if you want to do radiology, keep your mouth shut about it. Also, remember those people skills that you used to have before you became a human-tablet cyborg? It is time to dust those off and start putting them to good use. (If that fails, search for an empathy algorithm that you can run when needed.) It’s a whole different ballgame now, but thankfully for us, it’s still just a game. Play your best, and always be honest and a good sport.
“Sorry, but the appropriate response to this situation wasn’t in any of the USMLE world questions I studied. However, if you’d be so kind as to provide me with five options, I’ll happily choose the single best answer from among them.”
Third year blunderers, you are now fourth year badasses. Put on your devil-may-care attitude, sign up for those golf lessons, and if you can somehow be lucky enough to choose your groundhog year in advance, pick this one, because fourth year is going to be awesome. At least, that’s what they tell me – I have searched for some devil-may-care in my closet and found only devil-wears-prada. (just kidding, never seen it). Also, you do need to now have some sort of life plan in place. Ruh-roh…med-peds, anyone?
If all else fails….now, am I sane or crazy? Grr…I can’t decide!
Fourth-year badasses, you are now steely-eyed interns. The good news is that it is now real. The bad news is that it is now real. You’re (sort of) in charge, enough that you could actually potentially harm someone, which is certainly fuel for a mental freak out. You’ve come full circle, green as Iowa corn as an MS1 to green with flippity-floppity stomach as PGY1. Thankfully, you can now write that prescription for NervesBeGone (ativan/propanolol/haldol/morphine 4 in one combo) that you’re going to need to take on the first day, or at least you could if you had your DEA number yet, and if someone had done us the service of actually inventing this wonderful-sounding combo pill.* Remember that you were once of our short-coated brethren, and use us well – you of the long coats are gods to us, and we only want to help you. We’re just, well, incompetent. But we’ll try to only triple your work. (Feet kissing not necessary).
And lastly, to everyone else – residents, fellows, attendings, nurses, dieticians, janitors, basketball coaches, radio DJs, accountants, authors, people who do something more productive with their time than sit around writing blog posts, ballet dancers, kindergarten teachers, skinny people, fat people, diva celebrities, newborn babies, monarch butterflies, protozoans, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and any other groups I may have missed who also got a day older on Friday: You somehow continue to suffer us to “practice” medicine on you in word and deed. Thank you. May we be worthy to serve the suffering. – PSR
*Disclaimer: PSR does not support the abuse of any animal, vegetable, mineral, real or imaginary, except for poodles, which are absolutely ridiculous looking animals.**
**Second disclaimer: PSR does not condone the misuse of poodles, either. Apologies to the eight thousand or so of you who sent me hate mail in reference to the above disclaimer and suggested that I sit myself in the bucket underlying a cholera cot. (Very clever suggestion, though, I do salute you, though I shall ultimately pass on the suggestion.)