In memory of what medical education used to be

I arrive 7:15, 15 minutes before I was supposed to come in. I make sure to bring a shelf review book, knowing that I will be getting significant use of it that day.

After surreptitiously observing my surroundings, I attempt to seek out a physician of sorts, a guide, a mentor, a guru that could aid in my quest for knowledge and experience. I am seated in a chair against a wall, within the narrow entrance of the labor and delivery station.

“Sorry,” I say as move my leg out of the way as the purposely driven nurses and PA’s move in and out. I witnessed as the previously empty L&D station began to buzz with activity and life, from a lifeless set of chairs and tables to a living breathing organism.

Looking in form the outside, I turn to a momentarily idle member of the support staff and ask, “Have you seen Doctor X?”, “Do you think you can describe to me what he looks like?” Without looking up, he says, “Yeah sure I’ll let you know when I see him,” and scurries away, a line and interaction I’ve experienced many times before.

I slink back into my chair, stationed in the narrow entrance of the L&D station, being careful not to get into anyone’s way as usual. Slowly, I begin to open my review book, keeping one eye open for Doctor X. After about two hours of reading in the busy station, I over here a conversation I was not supposed to be privy to.

A nurse referred to the similarly dressed individual as “doctor.” I immediately begin to plan. I will strategically positional myself along the course of this individual’s trajectory as to “casually” bump into her, thereby, allowing me the opportunity to inquire about a possible apprenticeship for the duration that day. I set the play into motion and prepare the lines that I have used almost every day up until this point. Target acquired.

“Hello,” I say with my most charming smile, “My name is Ben, I am a medical student, would you mind if I follow you today.”  In an almost surprised manner she responds, “Um sure, but there are two deliveries, but they won’t be for a while” and curtly walks away. I again return to my safe haven, my wonderful chair, and try to separate myself from the activity around me to read about the very things that were happening around me, in the hopes that I will soon be called over.

Anyway, as I muddled through the countless pages and chapters and I started to think about the mythological stories that I have heard from countless older doctors about their medical school days. The days when medical students were at the forefront of deliveries with their attending’s, getting sprayed with blood, meconium and every sort of bodily fluid you can imagine, stitching up the wounds of the late night ED patients who have already crashed from the peak of their methamphetamine high. I’ve been told by some, actually needing to sleep in the grungy hospital night call rooms during their 24-hour shifts.

My mind returns; I’m up to the chapter discussing the presentation and treatment leiomyomas. I look around, and the station is empty, for a tech, typing away at the computer. I turn to my phone. 3:30. I close my book and make my way home.

The author is an anonymous medical student.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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