Saturday, May 12, 2007

3rd Year - Tale of 2 Truths

With a new crop of 3rd year medical students making their way through their final exams and getting prep’d for Step 1 I’ve thought about what 3rd year truly entails. Essentially it involves 2 things: confusion and humiliation.

First, confusion occurs based on your concrete belief in what you’ve learned from your books, what you’ve inculcated for Step 1, and the honest-to-God belief that you know what field you want to enter. 3rd year throws all of this out the door. I remember wanting to be an ER physician. I remember believing I knew a lot about congestive heart failure and treatment.

Then, Internal Medicine, my first rotation, completely turned my world upside down. ER was suddenly despised due to the patient aspect, CHF was complicated, and patients scared the hell out of me. Everyday I just hoped that I could answer enough of someone’s questions to not get yelled at. Answers that had been satisfactory for Step 1 were no longer "current treatment regimens". I was frustrated and confused.

The second is humiliation. And by this I mean the humiliation that accompanies the medical student as they traverse the harrowing halls of hospital wards, talk to patients without betraying the forbidden secret that they are scared to death of them, and attempting to maintain some semblance of your pride as much as possible while being humiliated by every aspect of hospital employee.

“Do you know how to draw blood? No? What a tool!”

“Do you know how to put in a foley catheter? What? Even my grandmother knows how to do that!”

"Can you find a mop and clean that up? What? No?! Fuck you!

In some parts of the hospital the phones are complicated, thus relegating you to asking how to answer your resident’s call as they return your page.

“What a dumbass you must be – how’d you get to be a medical student?”

You wonder why the nurses yell, attendings scoff, and residents roll their eyes. You’re trying, but it’s never enough. And just as you begin to feel comfortable and start to appreciate your surroundings your rotations end, your month schedule changes, or your attending/ resident changes. The confusion and humiliation remain as constant as the smell of ripe feces and sterile scrub on the internal med floor.

So, tread softly oh ye brave soon-to-be 3rd year medical students. It’s not always bad, but it’s definitely a trip.


Liana said...

Wow, I'm so glad I stopped by here. I was going to tag you for the 5 reasons why I blog meme in the hopes that it might convince you to start blogging again. Lo and behold, you've started blogging again. I've been away for 2 weeks so this is a very pleasant surprise indeed.

By the way, you are hereby officially tagged for the "5 reasons why I blog" meme. Tag 5 more lucky people!

A girl said...

Thanks for that, MSG. Appreciated.

MedStudentGod (MSG) said...


Wonderful. Glad to have you back on the MSG bandwagon.

A Girl,

It will get better - hopefully. I've felt the strain and disappointment as well. I think everyone has at one point, but I worry for you. Keep good spirits - you're almost done.

scutmonkey said...

I am SO looking forward to this. It sounds even better than cutting on myself... Still, it HAS to be better than years 1 & 2, right? right? please???? At least we will hopefully learn things that are remotely relevant to what we will hopefully be doing with our professional lives. I mean, who really cares about G-proteins anyway?? (my apologies to the MudFuds's out there)

Old MD Girl said...

Every day I hear a new horror story about how awful my life will become next year when I will be in the clinics. How I will never sleep, have too much to learn, and be yelled at and belittled at every turn. And how I will never have a second of free time again. I guess as long as you realize some of the things you mention in your post, it will be ok. And I've also heard the opinion that clinics are a LOT more interesting than class, even though you work harder. It's just the less frequently vocalized opinion.

MedStudentGod (MSG) said...

Definitely more interesting. Concepts and readings start to come together. There are rotations that let you sleep, but others were you're drunk-tired for a month or so. I think the biggest thing is how excited everyone is when they start and how some people completely change during this year. I'm kinda "yeah, whatever" right now. It will pass - as 4th year begins!