Now that my first official week of med school is over, let’s look back at my courses.
For 2 hours every morning, we have an integrated basic science class, which thus far is basically one-week crash courses in biochem (last week) and cell bio (this week). I’m very very thankful that I’ve seen the material before, because it allows me to concentrate on ….
… Anatomy! Our first lecture, on Tuesday, was three hours long. No breaks to speak of. (I think we had five minutes while he was figuring out how to change powerpoints.) Lots of vocabulary. Thursday’s lecture was a little better, because it was (1) coherent and (2) intellectually interesting. However, then we went into lab, which was a little rough. Although several of my older family members have died, I’d never seen a body that close up. Ours doesn’t have a first name on her wristband, which means she was probably unclaimed. It’s tough to console yourself with thoughts of honoring a person’s dying wish, when you know that they are only there on the table by accident. Also, my grandfather, who died just over a year ago, donated his body to the medical school where he used to teach. My reaction to “Alba” (what I have named my group’s cadaver) made me wonder about his body. Still, a friend later reminded me of Sydney Carton’s last words — “It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done.” — and I felt a bit better. This unknown person might be my most intimate teacher in medical school — and that reminded me of Eklavya and Dronacharya.
On Thursday, a patient of one of our professors came in to talk to our entire class about her chronic illness, which was very touching. She’s been through a great deal of pain and suffering — it was difficult for her to hold the microphone up — and yet she was in remarkable spirits. She even joked about some of the doctors who misdiagnosed her and told us that her inner strength comes from her hope that life will be better for the next generation of those with this horribly painful disease. I find that remarkably selfless, and it certainly puts into perspective my whining about having to study.
On Friday, we spent most of the day in our small groups, learning about what to do if someone collapses on the street. The basic gist was “don’t do anything, but if you really want to, pretend to be MacGyver and improvise a splint out of the New York Times.” It was kind of fun and pretty interactive — and I did learn a lot about trauma cases — but I’m not sure how useful it would be “in the field.” Still, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Friday.
So far, at least, med school isn’t THAT bad. Sure, I have to study 4-5 hours a day, every day, but it’s intellectually interesting stuff, which makes all the difference in my opinion. I am also a nerd who doesn’t ever go to bars. 🙂 I’m sure it will get tougher as time goes on, but I still think it’s the right decision.