This is Med School
It’s spring break and the pause in coursework has given me a moment to reflect on medical school and my experiences since beginning eight months ago.
The past eight months have gone by in a blur. My go to line when people ask how medical school is going is to say, “It’s going”, because it is. Still, there have been some great “this is med school” moments mixed in.
There are the typical ones, like the first time in the anatomy lab and first time listening to someone’s heart, but also some unexpected more powerful moments.
The first moment that comes to mind for me is the first time I saw a real patient. It wasn’t an actor and wasn’t my classmate pretending to be “Ms. Smith” while trying not to laugh during a practice session. It was a person with real concerns that impacted their life everyday.
I read the chart quickly and reviewed what I wanted to ask about before going in. The patient’s chief complaint was depression, so I would ask them about how they were sleeping, their interest in doing things, etc. We’d practiced this with standardized patients so I felt ready to go.
The visit started off well. I got through some of the questions I needed to and we were moving along. The conversation then turned to some of the stressors in the patient’s life.
As the patient described all of the things going on in their life they began to cry. They shared very personal and private details. I was impressed by their resilience and strength. I was also surprised at the amount of trust they placed in me, a first year medical student. They trusted those details to me, without knowing me really at all, because they knew I was in medical school.
That was the first time I’d experienced the trust of a patient firsthand. It was definitely a major “this is med school” moment and has stayed with me.
This was followed by other impactful experiences including my first time scrubbing in to a surgery and my first time going to collect organs for transplantation.
In their own way, they all reminded me how unique the medical profession is and the incredible responsibility that we have to our patients. To be worthy of the trust of patients is something that motivates me and pushes me to want to be the best physician I can be.
I know that there are many more experiences to come and I’m just at the beginning of it all. I’m excited, and while I know that they all won’t be positive, I hope I learn something valuable from each one.
While we spend a lot of learning about different organs and diseases, I’ve found that experiences like the one I described are truly what make medical school so special for me.