There is a counterpart to this page about sacrifices you make in your pursuit of being a doctor. It was brought to my attention that this alternative point of view sounded mostly like whining. I want to make clear that I am forever thankful for my opportunities, but as with anything else, there will be some hardship to overcome. You will have to endure. Even when I study for 14 hours to days straight, I try to keep my positive mental attitude, most of the time it is effortless and I truly love what I learn. I just feel like I would be dishonest if I said everything was rainbows and kittens. It isn’t I try hard and succeed and sometimes I try and learn a lesson.
At any rate here is a list of awesome things I’ve experienced so far in my journey. This list makes everything in the other list worth it and more:
1. Meeting my colleagues. I am not the most social person, but I am also not the least social person. I like a happy medium of seeing people and doing my own thing, whereas some students prefer total isolation and still others prefer hanging with their crew at all times. Either way, loners and social butterflies alike, I am very thankful to have met such an awesome group of dedicated, talented, diverse and empathetic group of dreamers (corny, but true, they wouldn’t be here without high hopes and a positive mindset).
2. We have something called simulated patient encounters. You literally get to pretend to be a doctor and perform histories, or take some vitals. It is graded so sometimes it is nerve-wracking, but overall it is a cool way to see how you interact with live humans who one day will have real problems.
3. Speaking of patient encounters, we have to wear our short white coats with formal attire, for some occasions. I don’t think all my classmates agree on this, but I know several students get excited to wear it. It makes you feel like you are almost a doctor even though still think everyone has diabetes, or sickle cell anemia.
4. You have opportunity after opportunity to meet with practicing physicians, surgeons, residents. You get to attend conferences and listen to the most cutting edge idea in medicine. If you nerd out on tech, or science, there is no shortage here.
5. Speaking of conferences, even though I am pretty focused on becoming an oncologist (subject to change, as I am told), I went to a surgery conference at PCOM. I mainly went because I wanted to learn to suture. I feel like that is a good surgical skill to have, no matter who you are. I found out I am terrible at suturing, but I did get to use some virtual laproscopy machines and something called RoSS (a robot surgery training machine, it was unreal, seriously go look this up right now, why are you still here?).
6. The realization every now and again that you are learning one of the oldest professions known to mankind.
7. Despite anatomy being difficult, stinky and tiresome, at times; you will learn things about the human body that you couldn’t imagine (everything is always smaller than I imagined, except hypertrophied hearts – holy moly). We, as humans, are fascinating, disgusting and beautiful. The same goes for all other subjects, actually, like biochemistry (biochemistry and molecular biology are my true pure academic loves). Physiology is also packed with insane information about what makes you literally tick (or lubdub, at least).
8. This isn’t true for all medical schools, but I attend an osteopathic medical school. This means I get to learn all aspects of medicine and surgery, plus, I get to practice something called osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM for short. If you are unfamiliar with osteopathy, I would recommend that you read a book called the DOs (this is a huge interview hint for those applying DO). I got love for MDs and they got love for us (i.e. my father, cousins and uncles), but I am happy I am training to be an osteopathic physician. OMM is a unique approach to solving problems, you also learn a crazy amount about bio-mechanics, which is very interesting especially if you are active, play sports, or flat out love kinesiology. I will make a post dedicated to solely OMM and the osteopathic distinction, so stay tuned!
9. Learning about patients, or having patient panels. From adorable little kids giving talks with their mothers, cancer survivors,the opposite spectrum of kids – physicians discussing their palliative care, or hospice stories – it is incredible and truly humbling to hear. This is the reason why you go into medicine (hopefully). Every time we meet a patient, or study a case, something happens, it makes every hour spent pouring over your text book worth it.
That’s it for now, I will add more awesome stuff as it happens. I will also add an awesome stuff friends section. Keep in mind there will never be patient names or anything like that, we gotta’ keep this HIPAA and PHI friendly.