I guess this post has been a long time coming, and probably why I haven’t written for awhile. It’s a culmination of a year of clinical training, and what effects it has had on me, from the good, to the bad, to the ugly. I think I’ll start with the bad and the ugly, because that’s what’s really been bothering me for awhile now.
Medicine has made me into a shitty person. Or, maybe more appropriately, the shitty-person side of me was always there, but the stress of medicine brought him out. Many of the problems, I believe, stem from behaviors in medicine that I can’t shake from my person when I’m not in my medical role. Shitty Graham takes several forms:
- Impatience. Often you’re sitting around waiting for a lab result, or a patient to go to x-ray, or waiting for a patient to get his new medication. Or you have a patient that talks on and on about unrelated things, when you know you have many more patients to see and you don’t want to get behind. But this attitude comes home with me. I want this now, I need to hurry to finish that, why are these other people besides me taking so damn long? I’ve lost the ability to live in the moment.
- No tolerance for incompetence. (It dawned on me yesterday why this one has happened.) The transformation from preclinical student to clinical student is a miraculous one, and the amount of knowledge learned is mind-boggling. But with this comes another step: beginning to feel like one understands medicine–and even if you don’t, patients ask you questions as if you do. When strangers ask you questions about medical stuff and you know the answer, it feels great. It feels like you went through all this training for a reason. But at least for me, it’s been a terrible boon for my ego. I really think it’s made me feel like a total know-it-all, even in the non-medical world. It’s weird. I’m incredibly guilty of “always having to be right” in the non-medical world, and honestly trying to fight this and tell myself I’m not always right and that I don’t always have to be. But at the same time, I’ve probably become much more confident and sure of myself (read: cocky), so that I don’t even question whether I’m right or not. Now granted, this never applies to medicine and rarely applies to anything of importance in my life, but it does impact my interactions with others, and how I probably make others feel.
I don’t want to make this sound like I’ve become some sort of terrible monster, but it’s just the little occasioal interactions and thoughts that run through my head that didn’t used to be there.
I haven’t really talked about this at all with any classmates, probably mostly out of shame and the fear that no one will feel the same way, and it’s just me that’s a terrible person. But somehow the pseudo-anonymity of the web and the written word makes it easier to type the words than to say them. I’m just trying to be honest with myself and figure out what I’d really like to focus on in the coming year–mainly why I went into medicine and how I can rediscover some of my humanity and virtue, because the path I’m taking right now won’t lead me anywhere I want to be.
The Good I referred to above will, I guess, be left for another post. Believe me, there’s plenty of it, but I’m just not feeling it right now.
As for this blog–what will I write about since I’ll be doing a year of research and not seeing patients? Several people have asked. I think I’ll spend more time reflecting on the year as a whole (I love reflecting, if you can’t tell), and then who knows, probably some thoughts on research, being a teaching assistant, and then of course my 2 month jaunt to Guatemala next year.
(And welcome back to MedPundit, who thought she was giving up blogging but it’s reeled her back in.)
(Editted, I total was unclear by what I meant by incompetence.)