So outside of the hard sciences characteristic of medical school, we have this class called the Practice of Medicine, which is a series of small classes and activities that are supposed to teach us our “doctoring” skills.
For example, we have an apprenticeship where we shadow a local doctors, even perform procedure under their guidance. In the class Doctor, Patient and Society, we learn the basics of taking histories and interviews with practice patients and how to convey validation, assurance and compassion to the patient while doing so. In Problem-based, case-based learning (PCL), we’re given cases that we have to figure out, a la House (but a whole lot simpler than the cases that House’s team got): a fictional patient presents with certain symptoms, we’re given bits of their background and current life, and we’re expected to come up with a diagnosis, a treatment and highlight psych or social issues that may be present. And finally in Physical Diagnosis, we learn the basic maneuvers of the physical exam and how to properly perform them on patients, while learning the clinical significance of the information we can gather from the exam.
All in all, Practice of Medicine is a big fat pain in the ass.
From the awkwardness of having to perform portions of the physical exams on your fellow classmates, intimately touching those who were but complete strangers to you several months ago. To the abject terror you feel from having to complete an interview, trying to figure out the right questions to ask, while being watched by your peers who will later critique you. To being pimped by your doctor during your apprenticeship on the knowledge that you were supposed to retain from class, which sadly most time you find you’ve retained next to nothing.
Yes. PAIN IN THE ASS.
So my plan of action has always been to just show up with a smile and participate, regardless of whether or not I know what I’m talking about or what’s going on.
Truth be told, I rarely know what I’m talking about or what’s going on in life, let alone in medical school.
Then, after that semester of hell, (oh, and it’s a four year course, so we have seven more semesters of hell and embarrassment to go), you have to be evaluated by your instructors. I hate evaluations, I always feel like I’m failing them.
During said evaluation in our PCL course, the usual issues came up: speak up, talk more, be confident. Is it so wrong to want to be an unassuming presence? Oh, the day to day woes of your friendly neighborhood introvert.
Then something weird happened: my instructor started saying I was inventive and that I bring a fresh perspective to the table. While I’m hesitant to speak, those times that I do, my life experience and maturity show, which he appreciated (as he was also a few years removed from undergrad before deciding to go back to medical school). I knew things and I shouldn’t be afraid to bring what I knew out.
What was more, he said that he saw the potential to be a great leader in me and that he didn’t see that in anyone else in the class.
I don’t know why, but I almost cried when I heard all of those things being said about me… ME?!?!? Are you SURE?!?!
And then as quickly as it started, the evaluation ended. And I’m left wondering what to do with myself.
I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, I have 5 more exams to go (out of 7! Two down!!! Whoop!!!).
And I’ll be complete with my first semester of med school.