Don't get me wrong. I never want to go through the hell of med school again. One of my friends was thinking about a second career in medicine, and I honestly think that if I had to go through medical school and residency again, I would quit. It's too hard to do twice.

But there are some things about medical school that I miss terribly, because it's stuff that I can't get back. I remember my first perfectly done suture. It was a vertical mattress, and the tails were just right. I remember following a running suture during a vascular surgery. Afterward, the surgeon told me that he'd never let a med student touch a vessel he was working on, but he trusted me. I miss the excitement of seeing my first trauma, a 20 yr old female MVA, no LOC, FAST scan negative, c-spine cleared. I miss the novel sense of horror upon seeing an apple core lesion on CT abdomen.

But most of all, I miss that moment in medical school when I was not an internist. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I was capable of anything. It was entirely within my power to pick my medical specialty.

There was a very similar moment that occurred in college. I remember it exactly. It was 6:54 PM and I was getting out of chemistry lab. It was twilight, and as I walked home from lab, I stopped at one particular tree about 40 yards from the chem building. At that moment, I could be whatever I wanted to be in life. I could be a lawyer, doctor, investment banker, veterinarian, librarian, computer programmer... All my life and education had led me to that one point in time where I could choose, differentiate. I was a stem cell.

That is what I miss about medical school. I don't miss the studying or the work. I miss being pluripotent.


Anonymous said...

As a former investment banker, this resonates perfectly. Thank you.

Just wondering though - are you saying that you like being a doctor, but aren't so enthused about being an internist?

I'm kind of like your friend, in that I've been looking into medicine as a second career, and as I read your entry, it got me thinking of so many things that suggest I'm probably not really meant to be a doctor. But it's still hard to put that idea behind me; I work with doctors, and I've kept that nontrad premed door open for years. It's probably high time to close it and move on.

Pluripotent, indeed, but which way do I g(r)o(w)?

Slightly off topic, this got me thinking that over the long haul, if we are not careful, hanging onto that state of pluripotency only leads to impotency. Decisions are hard, but entirely necessary. No second guessing. At least you (and I) have made those hard decisions. Good on us.

Happy New Year!

medaholic said...

It's interesting that you say that because one of my greatest concern as a medical student is that I am still undecided about what I am going to do. I guess hindsight is 20/20?

incidental findings said...

anon: I love being an internist, but who knows if I would've loved being a surgeon?
Non-traditional path really makes you stop and think: how badly do you want it? Tough question, and something that a lot of the kids straight out of college never have to think about.

Medaholic: Oh, I was undecided at the end of my 3rd year, and that was some serious worry. But during 3rd year, there were a lot of fantastic moments, moments that can only be had when you can say to yourself, "Hey, I could do this for a living, and do it well!"

Anonymous said...
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J said...

Hi iFindings, I'm a third year med student and the word "pluripotent" popped into my head the other day to sum up this bittersweet feeling of experiencing the beginnings of competency in many areas, but knowing a narrowed path is soon approaching...
I hope I end up on a path where some aspect of that sense of the thrill of learning/continual improvement is maintained throughout my career.