Lifelong learner of science, art, and fresh spins on kindergarten
We’re studying the gastrointestinal tract along with hepatobiliary and pancreatic disorders…which means we’re studying 51368 diseases with slightly varying names and symptoms. I like it so far, but I admit–I’m stressin’ a little bit. Thankfully, spring is on its way: Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, birds are chirping, ice is melting.
While it helps to have the hope of sunny days and sand volleyball, we need more tangible stress relief. So most of us love to exercise. If you have the discipline, medical school is a great way to get in physical activity. Simply do wall sits while reading. …Most of us opt instead to work out together in our free time. Some swim (the sharks), others of us run (the wolf pack), some of us are yogis, and the guys have a no-girls-allowed racquetball club.
This photo (courtesy of Andrea Kent!) is of some of us after a six-mile run in the freezing wind and snow. I think we liked it for the same reasons we like med school–kind of painful but challenging and even fun. (I’m training for my first Mini-Marathon; the others are veterans, and we also have an excellent triathlete in our class. He’s the real deal–is a vegetarian, likes Clif Bars, and everything. These people are so motivating!)
On Dec. 2, Dr. Connie Mariano spoke at Purdue. As a Filipino-American woman and Navy Rear Admiral, she had unique stories to relate regarding her path to her position as The White House Doctor, the title of her book I’m reading over Christmas break. What I noticed most about her was that she conveyed confidence. Of all qualities, patients most want to see kindness, competence, and confidence in their physicians. She told of how she got the job after a short interview in which she simply declared her desire to give back to her country and to be “not a desk doctor…a trench doctor.” She had prayed for a sign and had received it upon entering the room: she had spotted a Band-Aid on the interviewer’s forehead and, recognizing his humanity, was able to approach the interview more confidently and thus appear at her best. She went on to serve nine years in D.C. and abroad, following and taking care of her “first patients.” The job gave her a special perspective on the physician-patient relationship; she advised that treating all patients as if they were the President of the United States would bring the best outcomes in patient care.
I have read about another great physician, Dr. Mark Pescovitz, whom I did not get the chance to know but whom many in the IUSM community knew to be outstanding in his many roles, including transplant surgeon, artist, and volunteer. He had a remarkable life story as well. It is told by his brother and in The Indianapolis Star.
A first-year friend during finals week shared with me some of the same thoughts and feelings I was having one year ago. If you are feeling burnt-out, be assured that next year will be better. A break, this Christmas and next summer, will restore your sanity and revive your passion for medicine. The more you learn about the fascinating details of diseases and see the patients who deal with them, the more you will love it. Get support from those around you, and be thankful for and attentive to the people in your lives today. As we learn from the news of Dr. Pescovitz, we cannot be certain that we will have one more day with our loved ones. Enjoy the holidays with your families; I am sure you have never felt readier for a break.
Two posts in one day, hmm…. I’m not prolific; I’m procrastinating.
We start school tomorrow! Most med students in the state, including first-years at our campus, started classes last week; so I’ve been getting some questions from first-year friends. One hallmark of med students besides undereye circles is that we talk to each other a lot about school (avoiding the topic when we’re away from it). It’s more for camaraderie than to complain. It’s less about seeking commiseration than it is about seeking confirmation: Am I studying too much? …too little? …the right things right now? Is this how you felt? Is it hard for you to fit workouts into your life?
We often don’t ask these questions outright; we share our own stories and schedules and listen to others’, constantly trying to define what is normal and to pinpoint where we should be. It’s different for each person, though, so we also try to mind our own business and to do what works for each of us. Starting my second year, I know better than I did a year ago how to study and how to structure my life to get enough study time, sleep, exercise, and social and spiritual relaxation/restoration. Still, as Dr. Andrew Weil wrote, “Balance is truly a mystery.” With each new semester, new class, and new professor, we must adjust our approach to reestablish equilibrium.
Anyway, now that school’s starting, my blogs will get more specific, more med school-y. My physician-mentor for the year is a hospitalist, so I will report back on the various interesting cases we see! Oh, and good news!: I really like the new first-years here. I also like their heights. Our sand volleyball team, called “Confused Identity” since we’re IU students on Purdue’s campus, could use some help. Some members of last year’s team: