Friday, July 4, 2008

and so internship beckons!

we've just received emails from our hospitals, it's official. the student internship training (1 month in medicine, one in surgery/ortho) will start for me come monday with 4 weeks of medicine in a tertiary hospital with loads of profs.

i quaked with fear through the briefing, it was all the usual stuff about responsibility and punctuality and professionalism, all the stuff you hear and you think will be you someday but just NOT NOW.

well, my now is here, and i'm scared shitless, to be honest. i'm the sort who needs loads of sleep, who does things slowly, who likes to take her time. to be honest, this all sounds frightfully demanding and i'm not quite sure if i'll come out alive, let alone unscathed!

but i'm also looking forward to it in a way, because whilst my friends and classmates have come toting home bagloads of stories of how they treated and managed patients ALL BY THEMSELVES in electives, how they were really doctoring instead of just observing, whilst i was stuck being a passive observer (although i did have loads of fun in india, nevertheless). i'm itching to DO something, to be useful, to learn something practical. i learn better by doing than by observing, i have realised.

and this is my chance. to BE someone, to DO something. nothing irks medical students more than to stand around more and be useless, we want to do stuff, to be part of stuff. and i'm determined to make full use of my 4 weeks in internal medicine, including my 4 calls.

it's a lightweight thing compared to what interns actually do go through (i've heard of 15 calls a month!) but it's something totally new to me given the fact that i am in a traditional system (read: spoonfeeding abounds). i hope to learn oodles and to prove to myself that i can do it despite my many misgivings, and to find out just how much my childhood dreams of helping people translates into reality.

i've been rostered to neurology (oh the utmost horrors, i detest neuro with a passion that equals my love for wentworth miller and james mcavoy - did anyone watch Wanted? smoking hot!), and the associate dean happens to be the consultant in charge of me. yes. small, insignificant, tiny, me. i am horrified at how badly my lack of knowledge and my detest of neuro is going to show up badly on the first day! which means i have to go mug up on strokes and epilepsy and headaches and cranial nerve palsies all of today and tomorrow.

and when all else fails, i only have to think of my first ever exam case -
a sweet old man who had colorectal cancer with liver mets at time of presentation. his prognosis was awful. i clerked him after 2999999999 (you get my point) eager medical students had approached him, and he cheerfully agreed on hearing that i had an exam. he recited his history with practice and a smile, asking me whether it was sufficient information to pass and didn't bat an eyelid when i had to return to ask him some more questions that i'd previously missed.
i passed the exam in the end (just barely), and full of gratitude, went back and sat with him for a good 2 hours, just talking about his homeland and his youth. it was a good 2 hours of learning for me, and not in medical terms. about life, love and loss.
before i left the hospital for my next rotation, i ran back into the ward to say goodbye to him, telling him i was leaving. as he wished me luck, and i the same, neither one of our eyes were dry.
i never found out what happened to him (partly because i didn't want to) and i've forgotten his name by now. but i won't forget his kindness and his smile.

i haven't come across many patients like him since then. but i guess your first patient is always the most memorable. i don't expect to have the time to do that for all my patients, but if i can even do that for one, i'll be more than satisfied.

1 comment:

Ms-Ellisa said...

I hope you do find a way of providing such care and kindness to your patients... :-D

It's very sweet of you even to just want that.