Whole New World

Compromise to an extreme: a tiger in the oasis

Hello and here goes the second entry,

If you have ever attended an orientation week to a course in university (or maybe even high school) you know that they are a mix of boring ‘must say’ things for instance, please don’t bite the other kids, here are your teachers’ names, these are the assessments for the year and an underlying current of excitement over what is about to come next. At least I always couldn’t wait to get stuck into things.

In any case, clinical school is no different except that it seemed to put both extremes on steroids. I came home this week saying ‘Today was the best day of my life’ one day and the next complaining ‘I just lived through the slowest day ever’. That said though I would like to express an appreciation to the people that pointed out where the fire exits were and who to call if a patient collapses, no matter how I felt at the time.

I think a major part of why I felt that some of the sessions went so slow was that they revolved around what to do when you feel overwhelmed, how to not feel lost and so on while for the most part I have never felt more welcome, or more quickly felt at home than I have at the hospital this week. Doctors, nurses and administrators all went out of their way to answer questions that I had, and even patients seemed eager and happy to talk even though I am not actually contributing at all to their treatment. I saw and did a lot more in my first week than I had imagined I would get to do in the first month and I am overwhelmingly eager to see what the second week has in store. To illustrate just how welcoming everyone is, every time I have stepped in the elevator members of staff, be they kitchen staff, or interns or cleaners were always keen to ask how the day was going and wish me a pleasant afternoon. I realise maybe not everyone’s experiences can be like mine, but those were my impressions from the week.

Last week I used the metaphor of arriving in a brand new landscape and eagerly awaiting to check it. To me, it felt like some of these mandatory introductory sessions were trying to slowly take us out for a walk and convince us that there aren’t any tigers hiding in the bushes while I want to go running into the forest and report back in a week’s time. I am sure that in the future I will really appreciate these support networks but for now I just want to go and get lost.

NOTE: I feel it necessary at this point to state that I am no good at actual camping and metaphor aside the thought of going out into legitimate wilderness unsupervised does terrify me

This week did also provide a chance to reflect on how different it must be to become an adult in the medical profession compared to others. To massively generalise, most careers you finish your studying by 21, perhaps with a masters after another 2 years. You try to get a entry level job and then work up through the corporate ladder towards your dream job. Along the way, you may find a mentor that helps to guide you towards these goals and if you are very lucky you have a role model, the living example of who you want to become, that you can get some time with to further yourself along. By comparison, medicine seems to have a pretty defined ladder that you don’t have to worry too much about ascending until you get to entry into specialty training (i.e. you are only an intern for a year before becoming a resident) and you are constantly in contact with mentors and finding role models. But importantly (at least for me) these older paragons and examples seem to be interested not just in making you proficient in acheiving a goal or skillset, they also seem to genuinely care about making us as fully rounded human beings: they encourage to have hobbies, they will ensure we know where to go if we feel the slightest bit stressed (even if some of us don’t appreciate it at the time) and each of these highly qualified, busy and professional people aim to get to know each of us personally and not just as another subordinate to watch over.

Those are my impressions of the orientation week at least, perhaps the blinders will come off in the second week when we get stuck into more practical medicine. Only time will tell whether I stumble across a tiger or an oasis.

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