Remember when you were a premedical student in college? It seems like a century ago for many of us who have just completed the first year of medical school. It feels that way because our lives have changed dramatically. Normal life seems to have vanished, and suddenly, 24 hours in a day are not enough to get through the enormous volumes of information that we are expected to learn for every exam. It seems virtually impossible. We barely have time to eat or sleep.
Medical school is not the end of the world. Take it from us, students who have been there, when we say that medical school is what you make of it. Do not let medicine define you; instead, you should tailor medicine to your lifestyle. Otherwise, you might become overwhelmed by the demands of your new life and lose the sense of why you chose medicine in the first place.
How do you survive medical school?
Physicians, and medical students for that matter tend to fall into 10 different categories — which type are you?
One afternoon in clinic, a patient’s wife stopped me in the hallway. I had just finished describing an operation to her and her husband, obtaining his consent and answering their questions, but I wasn’t surprised that the woman was still worried. Despite her easy smile and infectious throaty laugh, she had appeared anxious throughout the visit, the corners of her mouth twitching and her hands flitting from her hair to her face to her pocketbook and back to her hair again.
In the hall, she opened her mouth to speak but stopped abruptly when one of the residents, a doctor-in-training, passed by. Once the resident was out of earshot, she cleared her throat. “Please don’t bring any students into the operating room,” she said, looking toward where the resident was standing. “It’s not that I don’t like these young doctors. I just don’t want one practicing on my husband.”
(Source: The New York Times)
Med students are taught about everything from pathology to microbiology, but are they asked to learn enough about public health policy?
With knowledge comes responsibility, and while physicians have insight into the inner workings of the human body and how it responds to disease (more than just a neat party trick), they’re also charged with using that information to make sure they don’t miss the cardinal signs of problems that can lead to the rapid deterioration of a patient.
In our classes we learn about a number of problems that are slow to progress - important to catch but not immediately threatening to life or limb. But as we go through our training, once in awhile we’ll learn about the classic presentation for a problem which, if missed, will result in the patient dying or being seriously disabled within a relatively short period of time, and the physician being in serious trouble if they had the opportunity to catch the problem early but didn’t.
Whenever these come up I try and make a mental note of them, mostly because I don’t want my patients to suffer because of a preventable error on my part.
I’ve racked my brain for what appear to be some of the common ones, most of which I had never heard of before starting medical school. Coming in, most of us already knew that chest pain that radiates down the left arm and up to the chin could be a myocardial infarction (medical speak for heart attack), which usually comes up in first aid classes. On the other hand, I never realized that green vomit could be the sign of something quite ominous, or that what might seem like a minor bump on the head needs swift medical attention.