I wrote this poem during my internal medicine inpatient rotation about a cancer patient we rounded on daily. Although he was doing fairly well under the circumstances, the difference in his appearance and demeanor before and after losing his hair was striking. As a medical student, I have learned much more from my patients than any lecture.
One of my most scarring moments from my childhood was opening my plastic lunch bag at school and seeing carrots and apples instead of Cheez-its and Dunkaroos. I longed for white bread sandwiches with the crust cut off, but instead got whole grain “heel” pieces with something healthy stuck in the middle. We grew up privileged with the knowledge that eating healthy and exercising would bring us lengthy and prosperous lives. As long as I can remember, we did everything right. We exercised daily, ate balanced meals, went to the doctor and dentist regularly (and flossed!), and supported each other unconditionally. We had faith in preventative medicine and in return we expected it to look after us.
Today’s post is by two authors: Mandy Laney and her husband, third-year student Zegilor Laney. Their honesty regarding balancing marriage and family life is both great advice to future and fellow medical students and their spouses, and a realistic glimpse of how not just students but also their families are laying down their lives for the future of health care. Thank you so much, Mandy and Zegilor!
Nothing had prepared me for it. The beeps of the monitor were slowing down, and the rattle of the last few breaths was making itself heard. Time seemed to stop. The beeps fell silent, and the feeling in the room was solemn. The dark room was empty aside from me and him.
It’s 11:30 PM on a Friday night. I am running on five hours of sleep, and I still have seven hours left on this shift. No, I am not a resident. I’m not even a third- or fourth-year medical student. I am an M1, a first-year medical student. My white coat is still fresh off the rack, and I am currently helping two paramedics transport a patient who has severely dislocated her ankle. Don’t worry, I am now a Nationally Registered EMT, so this isn’t quite the “Training Day” scenario. This lady, we’ll call her “Mrs. Smith,” was incredibly sweet and had quite a sense of humor. I was completely confounded by her tolerance for pain. Her foot looks like it is hanging on to her leg by a thread, and she is not phased one bit.
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Starting my third year of medical school brought a mix of emotions: eagerness, nervousness and wonder. Now halfway through, my heart has been touched and molded by some of the strongest and most resilient patients. One particular patient that had an everlasting impression and touched my heart was someone who I will call Mary. Continue Reading →
As I sit here and procrastinate learning more about neuroanatomy, I cannot help but think about how grateful I am to be a medical student at USCSOMG. At times, it has been extremely hard to find joy and thankfulness through the mounds of endless studying. We spend countless hours learning minutia about how the body is so precisely and perfectly created. Continue Reading →
2.7%. It’s crazy to even think about that number. Almost 4,000 applicants. 300 some interviews. 105 spots. I sat there reflecting on this during our white coat ceremony a couple of months ago. Recently, a couple med school friends and I went out to grab a drink and coincidentally ran into some friends of friends. We talked about the weather, sports, and the other monotonous conversations that are legally required to happen when you meet someone for the first time. Then, right on cue, the conversation turned to careers. “So are you in school with so-and-so?” I uttered a simple yes, only to be immediately followed by “Wow you must be a genius, good for you man.” I awkwardly shook my head no and laughed while quickly returning the question. I got the simple response of “Oh, nothing too exciting, I’m a mechanical engineer and I develop racing tires, just some math and whatnot.” Are you kidding me? I took math the summer after my sophomore year at a college in my hometown since I would’ve most definitely been flirting with the line of failure had I taken it at my undergraduate institution. And here was a mathematical guru telling me I was the smart one? False sir, false.
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Medicine is a jealous spouse.
It beckons you at all times of day and night, without end.
It pervades every action, every conversation, every thought, every decision, present and future.
It both builds and ruins relationships and can ask more of you than you ever thought possible.
Medicine is a jealous spouse, but doesn’t have to be yours.