Saturday, July 11, 2009

72 hrs later

So, as I mentioned before, we were told that we'd feel a bit more comfortable about starting the wards 72 hrs into it. Well, I just got back from my 3rd day in the wards and I do feel a bit more comfortable. I've figured out the basics of the computer system and I've gotten a little bit better with rounding, presenting patients and writing notes on my patients. So, after 72 hrs here's my impression on internal medicine (and maybe being a 3rd year med student as a whole):

The goods (in no particular order):

1. Getting to be where the action is.
Yeah, I don't get to actually do much, but each day I do get to closely follow a team of doctors debate and make many potentially life-altering decisions on several people.

2. Applying all that medical knowledge to real people
I finally see how many of those lists and seemingly endless facts finally make some sense. I'm far from being comfortable with them, but at least I get to see them applied to real life. And, applying it to real life goes a long way to putting those facts in memory. For example, knowing that low platelets can be an effect of liver failure is much easier when you've seen that Mr. X, your patient with liver failure needs to get a platelet transfusion before every procedure.

3. Talking to patients
This is actually the most satisfying part of going into the hospital. I get to spend some extra time with my patients and actually get to know them. They're pretty bored and enjoy talking to me. I feel that by spending more time with them, I get to better understand their expectations, fears and frustrations. It never ceases to amaze me how honored I feel when a stranger opens up to me and tells me everything about them.

The bads (in no particular order):

1. I'm useless.
I get to be part of a team of physicians that help make a very sick person well again, but I am completely useless. As a medical student, almost nothing I do has any consequence on the patient's stay, and the few things I get to help with, the team really doesn't need my help. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the way. The only part that makes me feel like I'm actually having an effect is when I get to relay the patient's concerns to the doctors because I get to spend more time with them (see the goods).

2. I don't know anything
This may be specific to me since I took 4 years off between finishing 2nd year of med school and starting 3rd year. I've forgotten a lot of facts. Everyone around me is nice and I haven't pimped at all, but the really easy questions that I get, I still have trouble answering. It hasn't all come back to me yet, but then again it's only been 3 days.

3. Studying
Along the lines as #2 and also specific to the fact that I took 4 years off. I've had no reason to memorize lists of facts in the last 4 years and I haven't bothered finding a good way to do it. I remember at one point in the second year of med school, I would learn the pathophysiology of an entire organ system in a week or so before the final exam. Now, I don't even know where to begin. I'm hoping this comes back to me also.

4. Of course, the hours
No matter what, I can't get used to getting up at 5 am (or before) every day. I've gotta learn to sleep earlier.

In all likelihood, these opinions will change in another 72 hours. Overall, I like internal medicine so far. I'm learning a lot and it's not completely exhausting (yet). We'll see how I feel about it as I get more into it. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. You won't be useless for long. Once you've been around a little bit, that pendulum will swing the other way and they'll expect too much of you. If you haven't already, you'll experience "See one, do one, teach one"

    In all seriousness, good luck with the transition, I'm sure you'll rock out overall!