A taste of what’s coming up in the next issue of The Medical Chronicles. Reminder, you now have about a week until the deadline - December 11 (it can be extended a bit to Dec. 15, but that’s the latest, please).
Clumsy Medic submitted:
In his blog piece “Remember Why We Came,” Rick Pescatore, a medical student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, writes:
To some degree, depression and exhaustion are an almost expected result of the medical school journey. With constant pressure to pass exams, excel amongst the most talented of peers, and develop oneself as a competent future clinician, medical students often report alarming rates of dysthymia and depression. Anxiety during The Match, worry over board exams, and apprehension about one’s place in the crush of clinical academia become the constant progression, and students’ angst and unhappiness come to define their days.
When I am supposed to be cramming for all the exams that are drawing awefully close, I am reading this piece instead because I too am spending most of my free time worrying about where I will be in a year and a half. Will I even be able to make it, will I make a good doctor, do I even have what it takes?
All these worries haunt me. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling of hopelessness that’s impossible to push away. Other times, I tell myself that I am going to do whatever it takes, even if it kills me. And that does almost literally, kill me until I go into a low where I don’t do anything for days and just worry.
There’s another way, though. Hidden beneath the stacks of library books, nestled between the rooms of patients tucked away and stable for the night, we find the reasons we came to medical school: The older gentleman who shares amazing stories with you in the dead of your third call night in a row. The sick kid we’re able to make a difference for. The ailing individual who, returning from their darkest moments, brings you the brightest of yours.
I could have written the same thing but in different words:
And yes, I woke up at 3 in the morning trying to get some studying done and yes, when I enter the clinic at 8 AM it’s already been 5 hours since I woke up and I would love to just get to bed and never get out. But then I sit in my chair and this kid walks in holding his mother’s hand and smiles at me shyly. We chat about his school and his friends. When I take him in for a physical, he gets all quiet and scared. But then I tickle his tummy and start talking to him again and he starts giggling and telling me all about his day like we are long lost friends. And I forget that I am so exhausted or that I would kill for a cup of coffee, but can’t get one because of all the panic attacks, or that I am going to have to kill myself again when I get home, trying to study. At that moment, all I can feel is happiness.
The thing is, no matter what words we use to say it, at the end of the day, we all say it. We complain about the insane amount of work. Hell, there have been moments when I have (almost) seriously considered quitting. But most of us usually turn back. And we do that because deep inside, somewhere, we all know that we wouldn’t be able to live without the joy that fills us when we have been able to do something for a patient.
I think that’s what’s so incredible about being a medic—the community. No matter where we are and no matter how we are doing it, when you tell another medic that you go to med school too, they will smile that half-sympathrtic-half-understanding smile. We don’t need to explain to each other what we are going through. And I think the community acts as a support system like no other; when I am going insane, I come across a blog post of a fellow medic complaining about my problems and the feeling of hopelessness and it makes me feel less hopeless because I know that I’m not alone. Or I read a piece like this one which reminds me why I started this journey in the first place.
That’s why I think it’s so important to write, because what may seem like thoughtless rambling to you may help someone else in your place to make it through the day. Because no matter how bad a place one is in, one is never there on their own. There is always someone who has been there and made it through. And that knowledge somehow makes it easier.
I want to thank every medblr/blogger out there, anon or otherwise for writing, sharing their experiences, their miseries,and motivating those in need. I honestly don’t know how they did it in the pre-Tumblr/Blogspot/internet era.