Halfway Point

Two weeks ago, my Surgery Clerkship came to an end. Finally. To be honest, 4 weeks of that was quite enough for me. Now I’m on Internal Medicine and I’ll admittedly say that 4 weeks isn’t possibly enough. 
In surgery, we stayed with one firm throughout the clerkship. Medicine isn’t the same. We change firms weekly along with having a number of tutorial and clinical skills sessions to attend. Frankly, you don’t really get to know people on your team (except maybe the interns, maybe) and you certainly don’t get to know the patients on each firm. Medicine has quite a lot of patients with so many different problems and, as we move from one firm to the next, I find it difficult to clerk patients and follow up on them as we’re expected for our case books to be handed in at the end of the rotation. 
I have my qualms about each of the two clerkships so far. Surgery was wonderful in that it was structured and you knew what would be happening every day but it wasn’t so great in the hours and amount of work involved. Medicine is wonderful in that it has shorter hours and much more free time, the atmosphere is more relaxed but it somehow feels to have much less structure to it because I feel like I’m being rushed to learn things in my clinical skills sessions. In fact, I quite hate the clinical skills sessions because the person in charge of them (who’s also in charge of the entire clerkship) is so iffy and strange. You’d think he’s just being particular but he’s so obsessive-compulsive over the things only he knows and ends up focussing on only those things. Hypertensive drugs aren’t all there is to life and medicine!

Too often I feel frustrated about the knowledge (more specifically, the lack of it) that I’m receiving. That’s not to say that nobody’s teaching me things but so many things are being taught that it’s not possible to remember it all, so you write them down to go home and read up but when you read, you don’t remember. That’s how I am. For some reason, the things I manage to study, I cannot manage to recall when I need to. It causes me to become anxious about a lot of things. Sometimes I feel like I can’t really be bothered to keep up with the environment I’m now forced to work in due to my anxiety. It’s difficult to shave off my fears when I can’t answer a question because I can’t recall what I read the night before. So now, I have difficulty even getting myself psyched to study at all. This further adds to my frustration and the fact that I don’t like my team much doesn’t help either.

I’ve reached the great halfway point of this semester. Another 6 weeks and I’ll be facing my first clinical OSCE-type examination. At this point, I’ve been feeling a lot of negative emotions…lots of upsetting things have happened and many things continue to frustrate me but I’m going to do what I always do: continue working through my difficulties until I come out on top. I’m sure soon enough I can bid these fears good riddance. My lifestyle has changed so much and it’s become so unhealthy. Working at the hospital has changed my eating habits entirely. Breakfast is at 6:30 AM (6:10 AM on surgery) and it’s only cereal. On call nights (twice a week) leave me eating dinner when I get home after 10:30 PM. On surgery, lunch was any time between 12 and 5 PM but now on medicine its usually around 12 PM. Dinner is whenever I get home so that I can eat home-cooked food at least once a day. Lunch is food I purchase from the hospital cafeteria (which is terrible food that I ate for 4 weeks straight on surgery) or from any of the food places near the hospital (which I can only do now because I have the time on medicine and is better than that hospital cafeteria any day). I don’t even get to drink as much water as I need anymore and I’ve become dehydrated.

All in all, there are a lot of intense adjustments that I need to work myself around. I don’t like the hospital life or the hospital environment (though I’m not sure if that’s a general feeling or just how I feel about this one). Add all that to my never-ending feeling of wanting to leave Barbados and I’d be a tortured soul. The only thing that saves me from the despair is daydreaming about learning more interesting things at Bastyr University and thinking about where I’d like to go for my electives during my next couple of years of medical school.

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