Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One year ago... one year from now...

My nephew turned one year old today.  It got me thinking about my life one year ago...

When he was born, I was taking my Step 1 USMLE boards (translation: 8 hour national test at the end of 2nd year)- running out to check my cell phone during my breaks so that I could know how the labor was going.  I even had the administrative-assistant-lady on my side- she would let me know if my cell phone had rang or not when I came out for a break. I thought I knew everything there was to know at the end of that test.  I'd been studying for 4 weeks, and everything in medicine seemed to fit together in a neat, tidy package.  But I was terrified of doing a pelvic exam, or telling a patient about a cancer diagnosis.

But then I started third year- and I saw patients die who should've lived; and live who should've died. Medicine got very complicated.  It became more and more about luck than facts.  Whereas medicine had seemed very much like a science to me one year ago; I now know  much more about the art of medicine.  Just today, I was seeing a ovarian cancer patient and told her about her diagnosis for the first time.  The right words, surpisingly, came naturally to me.  You would have to ask her- but I think I did an awesome job.  That situation would've made me pee my pants a year ago.  The facts meant much less to her than the open discussion and emotional support.

But don't ask me how an antibiotic works.  One year ago, I could've explained the mechanism of every single one- now I'm just happy if I remember that it's antibiotic. But I can tell you everything you'd ever want to know about the patient who I saw who had a bad reaction to it. 

And one year from now?  I'll have a two year old nephew, I'll know where I'm heading for residency, and I'll probably be getting ready to move to a new city, and I'll be within a month of having an MD behind my name.  I'll probably feel just as incompetent and unprepared to be fully responsible for patients as I do know- but at least I'll have an extra year of experiences under my belt.


  1. I'm so proud of you! Keep on learning and Finley will keep on growing.

  2. the more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to learn. I have limited tolerance for those that think they know it all. Every day makes us wiser. Reading Rachel's post reminded me of the joy I feel every year....around April 24th. this will be my 24th time to be amazed by how much you have grown. Happy 25th birthday Laura (a couple days early)