Tuesday, November 27, 2007


My ER month is almost over. I had my last shift last weekend, and went on an ambulance ride-along yesterday. This has been the best schedule during all my time in medical school. I even managed to go home for a couple days for Thanksgiving! I do unfortunately have to take an exam for the first time in fourth year on Thursday which I am wildly unprepared for.

Interview season has begun in earnest. I had my first a couple weeks ago--I liked the program and the people, the location however left something to be desired. The next three weeks will entail a lot of travelling, going to a lot of awkward night-before dinners, being asked the same questions (why surgery? why this program? what are your strengths/weaknesses?) dozens of times by dozens of people, having to ask the same questions (what are the best points of this program?) dozens of times, and driving a lot.

The question I hate with a passion, is of course, the strengths/weaknesses question. The strengths question kind of makes sense, but I don't understand the weaknesses question. Clearly if the interviewee has weaknesses that should be a concern, s/he is not going to admit them to the interviewer. Which leaves the old strategy of taking something that's actually a strength and pretending it's a weakness (I care too much. I work too hard. I have to get things just right. Patients say that I'm so great that something must be going wrong because no one can be that perfect. Etc.) which naturally everyone sees right through. Being asked these questions so many times, I am constantly tempted to deliver a flippant answer with a totally straight face. Here are some examples:


I've found that my telekinetic abilities are a stunning asset in virtually every situation.

In addition to my commitment to surgery, I have many interests outside of medicine. For instance; last summer I learned to translate hieroglyphics, wrote a best-selling novel, and just for fun discovered how to divide by zero.


Patients say I don't empathize well.

Sometimes I think I like cutting people too much.

I faint at the sight of blood.

Technically, I'm not supposed to be within 500 ft of several people in this town.

My therapist tells me I have some issues I need to deal with before being around patients. But it's all right, the voices in the ceiling say I'm good to go.

I don't deal with correction well.

In stressful situations I tend to break down.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


My peds sub-i ended uneventfully. Last week I started in the emergency department--my duties consist of being present for 11 eight hour shifts!!! It's been beautiful. I feel like I've gotten more sleep in the last week than I had in the previous months. I don't have to think about patients when I come home, because they'll all be new when I go back. I don't have to round. There's a ton of variety. And I have more days off than on.

There have been several interesting patients. A pleasantly psychotic elderly man who came by ambulance because his leg was bleeding (the mysterious "they" had pricked him with something--the bleeding was long stopped by the time he got to the ER). A psych patient tachycardic for no apparent reason. Multiple people with obscure abdominal pain. A lady who wanted ativan because her grandfather had just been admitted to the ICU and was dying (which brought up an interesting debate of the appropriateness of using drugs in a natural grieving process--the senior resident wasn't going to give any, the attending wasn't at first but decided to after talking to her). Multiple traumas, mostly blunt.

It's been good. If I didn't like surgery so much, I think I would be very tempted to pursue ER.