Tuesday, May 13, 2008


It's finals week, and I'm almost finished with my first year of medical school.

Do I feel any closer to being a physician? Sometimes I think yes: my vocabulary has changed such that I now refer to heart attacks as "MIs" and pulmonary embolisms as "PEs." I even shocked myself by using that last abbreviation in front of a patient, and not catching the mistake until maybe 20 seconds into the blank stare that I got in return.

But most of the time, no. The experience is still providing me with my weight in comedy gold, from all the newby-meets-the-medical-world flubs. Last week, when our suitcase clinic physician asked me to describe a patient's rash, I had several "rashy" words fly through my head -- pruritic! maculopapular! -- before I realized I didn't actually know their definitions and had no idea if they applied to our patient's rash. So I was left with: "Uh, it's red. And dry."

But I think I'm doing ok. Enough of the basis for understanding is there, such that I'm beginning to see how the diffrerential diagnosis process works -- even if I can't use it myself yet. More importantly, I'm still fascinated by it all, something which keeps me wanting to learn every day.

However, that doesn't actually mean I'm motivated to do the work I need to be doing. Finals week is an interesting thing: time ceases to have any meaning, day blends into night which blends into day again, and the real point of anything is totally lost sight of. It's a uniqueley academic thing -- although maybe analogous to armed combat, albeit on much lower level of unpleasantness. I don't think you can get PTSD from finals week, but I'm not positive.

Finals is also unique for its characteristic sine-wave of procrastination, which goes something like this: work hard for 2 hours, get bored and burnt out, waste time for 2 hours, panic that no work is getting done, work for 2 hours, and so on. Easy access to the internet has opened up new worlds of procrastination. Worlds which include emailing, chatting, watching videos, and, yes, blogging. Which reminds me: I really need to get back to work.

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