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Archive for the 'medical school' Category

dear reader

I’ve noticed that there have been quite a few new user registrations on my blog as of late, but no new comments (which is pretty much what registration is for). To those of you who have registered lately and to my loyal readers, is there something more that you are looking for here? Would you like to better be able to interact with me and/or each other (e.g., a forum)? I’m open to mixing things up a bit, so feel free to leave me any suggestions or thoughts in the comments here or privately by sending me a message here.

contrary to what you may think…

I’m not an uptight know-it-all.

Yes, I preach a lot about making sure you know what you’re getting into when you decide you want to become a doctor. But that’s because I didn’t quite know myself (*gasp*) and because I see far too many people naively thinking that the junk on TV actually even comes close to portraying what it’s really like to be a doctor. Yes, it’s obvious that doctors treat illnesses, injury, and other health conditions. But what may not be obvious is that it’s not quite that simple. Every patient is different–some may listen to you, some may think they know more than you, and some just want to look for any excuse to sue you. You may want to become a doctor to help people, but many times, your hands are tied by bureaucracy and you can’t do anything about it but feel bad. Oh yeah, and the income to amount-of-work-you-have-to-put-in ratio kind of sucks when it comes to doctors (unless, of course, you go into derm or some other lifestyle specialty).

Also, despite my ragging on and on about how it’s not fair that people get ahead by kissing ass instead of working hard, I’m the biggest slacker you’ll ever meet. I never studied in high school and made it a habit to never study in college until 1-2 days (at most 2.5) before any midterm or final and graduated summa cum laude with more honors and awards than you care to read about here. I also only studied for a week before the MCAT and yet my numbers were awesome and I had no problem at all getting into medical school. I have my semi-photographic memory to thank for allowing me to be such a slacker. Even in med school, I slacked more than most and still made it through the first two years just fine. Yes, I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, but not as hard as most of my classmates. Let’s not even mention grad school because it’s a complete joke compared to med school and I’m sure you get the point. I have no problem with slackers as long as they eventually get “serious” enough to know when to work when it matters. What I do take issue with are those who purposely skirt the rules and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter simply because they know someone…those who slack and have crappy numbers who just want a free ride while other slackers actually earned their way…those who have no sense of how much trust will be placed in them when they become doctors and do not take it seriously. I was taught by my favorite high school math teacher that the cream always floats to the top and maybe I was naive to believe it, but it is because of this belief that I can’t stand ass-kissers who actually get ahead not because they’re awesome in every way and deserve it, but merely because they kissed the right ass. I believe in people being rewarded for how awesome they are and not because of sneaky underhanded tactics.

So there it is. I hope we’re all on the same page now.

as the match nears, shadiness abounds

So, as you all know, Teacher’s Pet has been the bane of my existence in the lab for awhile now. I mistakenly thought that she had quit medicine because she cared too much about her patients or some other BS like that, but it turns out that she just quit her internal medicine residency and instead wants to get into another specialty. That’s why she hooked up with my major professor–because he’s in the department of her specialty of choice and she wanted an in.

Well, she applied this year and Match Day is tomorrow. She already knows that she matched and is waiting to find out where. And in the two days that I’ve been at the lab, all I keep hearing is, “If you match here…” or “Who knows…you might end up in Timbuktu…” or “Well, we don’t know yet if you’ll be here…” which is normal I suppose, but for some reason, has been sounding ultra sketchy coming out of my major professor’s mouth, the chair of the department’s mouth, and the chair’s minion’s mouth. They just all sound like they’re saying, “Duuuuuh. Of course you matched here. We made sure of it.” They might as well be wink-wink-nudge-nudge-ing when they say these things because it’s just that obvious. And that just makes me angry. I understand that these shady things happen and I probably can’t do anything about it but play the game. But does it really have to be so blatant? Bad enough that they’re screwing other people (who might have gone about the whole thing in an honest way…that would be novel, wouldn’t it?) over, but do they really have to broadcast it too?

Well, maybe I’m reading too much into things and I’m wrong. But I would be very surprised if she doesn’t match here. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

a taste of things to come

The grant that partially funds my salary includes several MDs as co-investigators. These MDs somehow find time in their oh-so-busy schedules to attend our marathon monthly meetings. I try to stay away from them because they seem kind of…mean. Especially this one peds guy who looks like he has a stick perpetually stuck up his ass. It doesn’t help that he seems to have something against my major professor and his work. Could it be perhaps that he knows that he’s a fraud?

Well, at one of these said meetings, I show up early because I want a seat far away from the chair of the department and as close to the door as possible. Mean Peds Guy is also early as well as a coworker of mine, Teacher’s Pet, and my major professor. Of course, I choose to converse with my coworker rather than talk to and feed my major professor’s narcissism. Being the narcissist that he is, he can’t stand sitting there unnoticed, so he opens his big mouth and starts talking to Mean Peds Guy.

MAJOR PROFESSOR: You know, she’s starting her rotations soon. [obviously referring to me]

MEAN PEDS GUY [looking like he could care less]: Oh really.

I give a sheepish half smile.

MAJOR PROFESSOR: Yes. So you’re going to be nice of her when she’s on peds, right?

MEAN PEDS GUY doesn’t say anything and just kind of looks pissy. And I really want to hide. But my major professor is not one to be ignored.

MAJOR PROFESSOR: You have to protect her.

MEAN PEDS GUY [barely able to pretend that he's joking when he says]: Well, we’re not nice to anybody in peds.

You see, I’m not like my major professor. I do not expect nor want special treatment. In fact, if I could ban all special treatment, I would. But now, because he opened his big fat mouth, Mean Peds Guy thinks that I think that I deserve special treatment. Peds is a hard enough rotation without having pissed off an attending, which is exactly what my stupid ass major professor just did to me. I’m thinking that I should change my identity and get some plastic surgery before peds so that he won’t recognize me and totally screw me over.

inspirational music for the medical student 2.8

Starting med school is like starting a new life…you have to learn to study extremely efficiently, deal with slightly crazy classmates, and fumble your way through your first physical exams and patient interviews. Along the way, you’re going to make mistakes, many embarrassing ones. You’re going to be scared that you’re never going to be good enough. And you’re going to be happy that you’re pursuing your dream. So in honor of new beginnings, my song for this week is Yael Naim - New Soul.

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Send song suggestions here.

do you have what it takes?

Really? Do you have what it takes to be an MD/PhD? Before you rattle off your sky high GPA and MCAT scores at me, let me tell you about the requirements they don’t tell you about or sugarcoat because they know you’ll go running for your life.

1. Have an inquisitive mind. Sounds like a good skill to have, right? Something that’s really indispensable if you’re planning to pursue research? Well, yeah, it is. But what they neglect to tell you is that no one is going to listen to your ideas. No one at all. You might even get yelled at. Because you’re just a peon and how dare you think you have anything new to add that some seasoned PI hasn’t already thought of.

2. Work well with others. Research is all about collaboration. Nobody gets anything done by doing everything themselves. You just can’t possibly know everything there is to know about everything. What they don’t tell you is that collaboration as a grad student means checking your ego at the door and groveling at the feet of collaborators who hold your already tenuous fate in their hands. Oh, so sorry, I’m not available the entire month of April for your studies.

3. Be able to think on your feet. A good skill to have that applies to many aspects in life in general besides research. But when it comes to research, this skill takes on a whole new level. You need to be able to think on your feet while being bombarded with questions designed to destroy any credibility your study may have had and humiliate you until you have not a shred of ego left by know-it-alls who have nothing better to do than to destroy you just because they can and not because they’re interested in teaching you some far-reaching lesson about research.

4. Creativity, ingenuity, perseverance are musts. Because shit just doesn’t work in research. And you’re going to have to spend many sleepless nights figuring out why your shit doesn’t work and how to make it work if you ever want to finish your PhD. There’s no such thing as dropping your doomed project and moving on to something that just might work. Nope. You’re going to spend 3-4 years (or more!) chasing the same pointless project because your PI doesn’t want to admit that his idea was wrong.

5. Be prepared to be wrong. Because you often are. But you’re often not as well. But even then, you still are because you’re just a lowly grad student and even the lab tech knows more than you. So yeah, be prepared to be wrong, even though you very well may be right. And don’t even think about defending yourself because doing so is just going to get you yelled at.

So there you have it from the inside. Do you still think you have what it takes? If so, then good for you! We need more people like you in research. If not, just stick with med school. You’ll get enough abuse there.

they have obviously forgotten what it’s like to be a med student

I’ve mentioned in other posts that part of my meager grad student salary comes from a grant that has nothing to do with my project. And that I’m required to attend these marathon monthly meetings about the project’s (lack of) progress. Well, in the last one, there were some, let’s say…issues…with my major professor’s methodology for our part of the study. Instead of actually addressing them like a normal person would, my super narcissistic major professor danced around these issues for so long that the people asking these questions of him were about ready to physically knock some sense into him.

So suffice it to say, because of what happened last time, there were some residual hard feelings going into the meeting that happened today. Of course, my major professor happens to conveniently be out of the country for this meeting, leaving only myself and teacher’s pet to fend for ourselves (which, by the way, did not go over too well the last time this happened). Apparently, these people know that we don’t do a little song and dance around issues they bring up, so they take the opportunity to put us on the spot and screw us over. Even though I was expecting trouble, I had no idea what I was in store for. Obviously, I’m leaving the lab in two months to go back to my clinical rotations. And teacher’s pet will be leaving in six months. So that leaves no one to do the legwork for their study in our lab. The logical next step would be to hire a replacement for me before I leave so that said replacement can be trained during my remaining time here. But of course, they’re resentful of my major professor’s power plays and he’s not there to dance around their questions, so they decide that it would be a brilliant idea to make me forever an indentured servant to their project by requesting that I “moonlight” for them while I’m back in school. Are you kidding me? These guys are MDs here. They’ve been through all of this. Don’t they know that a third year med student has no time to sleep, let alone work on pointless research projects that they’re not in any way interested in?

Obviously not, because when I tried to diplomatically point out that I may not have the time to do the data analysis in a timely manner, the retort I got was that medical student work hours are limited such that I cannot spend more time in the hospital than is allowed…therefore, I should have all the time in the world to do their data analysis. I seriously could not believe what I was hearing. We all know that those work hour regulations are a joke. Even though they cannot require us to be in the hospital for more than 80 hours a week, we can voluntarily stay longer and we usually should in order to not look lazy and to impress people. Not only that, but just because I may not be in the hospital does not mean I’m going to be lying in the grass watching the clouds float across the sky. More likely than not, I’ll be furiously studying or writing up my presentations for the next day. Or maybe, if I’m really lucky, sleeping. How can they possibly expect me to spend what little precious spare time I’m going to have doing their gruntwork for them?

My plan once I’m done with my dissertation is to leave the lab and never look back. That’s not going to change and I am just appalled that these people even think for a second that I’m willing to risk my clerkship grades for this pointless project. I’m just hoping that my major professor won’t hang me out to dry on this issue.

on second thought, i suppose it could be worse…

So last week, I whined a bit about my third year clerkship schedule. This week, I’m trying to tell myself that it’s not so bad. It could have been worse. I could have ended up with Surgery or Internal Medicine first. Then I’d really have cause to complain. But I don’t have either of those clerkships first. I have Psychiatry first. Not ideal because I wanted Family Practice first to ease myself into the whole thing and semi-prepare me for Pediatrics second. But I’ll live. I think. I hear Peds isn’t exactly a walk in the park. And now I’m going into it after Psych, which in no way whatsoever prepares me for it. The other thing that didn’t quite fall into place with my schedule is the fact that I ended up not being able to get OB/Gyn before Surgery, which I really wanted so that I could gain some experience with being in the OR/tying surgical knots/etc so that I wouldn’t look like a complete idiot come Surgery since I have a more than passing interest in Surgery after all. Of course, the lottery gods decided to spite me and force me to do OB/Gyn last. Yep, that’s it. The order is jumbled up and looks almost nothing like what I wanted. But it’s not so bad, is it? Well, actually, it is. To me. I want it my way, dammit.