Since I last posted, I have survived the Cells and Tissues sequence, as well as our first Clinical Foundations of Medicine week. The M1s start our Cardio/Respiratory Sequence tomorrow, which is pretty exciting and seems even more relevant to our future professions. This week, alone, we get to dissect the thoracic wall and heart in anatomy lab, examine blood and bone marrow in histology lab, and learn all about the cardiovascular system! Aside from the academic spectrum, this has been a great social weekend to be a Michigan med student. Our football team played a great game (or, at least a great second half of a game) against Minnesota for Homecoming weekend yesterday and a big group of us went apple-picking this afternoon in Milan. I am not willing to admit how many cider donuts I ate, but let’s just say that I did not need dinner this evening. (No regrets, the donuts were seriously delicious.)
In the past week, I had two distinct experiences that made me realize the responsibilities that go along with my new role as a medical student. First, I had a friend (who is not a medical student) ask me for medical advice. She asked me to feel a bump on her arm and make an assessment about what it could be and what she should do. I know this sounds rather simple, but it felt kind of poignant to me. This friend, as my patients will in the future, put trust in me to help with her with something private, which involved physical touch and asking her personal questions. Of course, I told her very quickly that I am essentially a baby doctor and have absolutely no experience in diagnosis yet, but the fact that she even asked felt like a bit of a transitional moment for me. As I continue in my medical education, I expect that I will be asked questions like this frequently. I’m sure I won’t be able to answer them for quite awhile, but it’s such an interesting social phenomenon to be a part of — I am amazed by how personal people are willing to become with those that they believe may be able to heal them.
The second experience actually occurred in the hospital. I was able to shadow an internal medicine physician as part of our Clinical Foundations of Medicine course this past week. The doctor I shadowed was wonderful and did a great job modeling how to build rapport with patients, how to give bad news, and how to actually get through his many responsibilities in an efficient manner, while still treating his patients with kindness and care. He introduced me as a medical student in every patient room and, before long, I realized that this was the first time I had ever been in a patient care setting where I was being perceived as a potential care provider. Before medical school, I was a clinical researcher in a hospital for three years. Though I spent a great deal of time with patients and in clinical settings, it was always in the context of research, rather than providing care. This week, I had patients address me as part of the clinical care team, ask me questions, and thank me when I left the room. Again, I was very quick to redirect all questions to the doctor, but I still found it interesting to be in this situation so soon in medical school. At our White Coat Ceremony in August, many of the speakers mentioned the symbolism of the coat and how it represents a great deal of responsibility. This week I feel like the perceptions of others about my level of knowledge and abilities were perhaps a bit distorted by my white coat. However, being in these situations and learning how to navigate them gracefully is helping me settle into my new role as a medical student, a future care-provider.
Until next time, thanks for reading and go blue!