Monday, April 12, 2004

los estudiantes

Nothing much new to say about work today. Kids. Hearts. Fluids. Intern getting blamed for damn near everything. Which just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. I bet even in biblical times the interns got blamed for everything. Except in those days, they got stoned to death. Thou shalt not prolong length of stay.

There's this third year medical student on Pediatrics who keeps calling me "Doctor Au." He's not working with me directly, but I spent a day with him in the Well-Baby Nursery last month as part of his outpatient Pediatrics rotation. "Doctor Au." I've already told him several times, once quite forcefully, after jumping at the sound of my title like someone being zapped with a cattle prod, to call me Michelle already, geez, I was only a med student last year for chrissake, we could have been neighbors for all I know. But still, "Good morning, Doctor Au." It's like those slapstick movies.

Thanks, Boss.

Sure thing. And don't call me "Boss."

Sorry, Boss.

Even though I miss the carefree lack of responsibility in which all medical students indulge (not that I knew it at the time), there are certain things that I appreciate are very hard about being a medical student. Mostly, it's difficult to figure out how to strike that balance. How to be around and available, but not get in the way. How to learn, but not be annoying. How to be friendly with your residents, but not a toadie. This is hard to do. And mainly, how well you get along depends on that unique mix of personalities between you and your resident.

This was never more evident to me than on Surgery, where my senior resident (who I will call "Anhedonia Man," because he acted so miserable all the time) pretty obviously loathed me, but loved my frat-boy goofy cow-tipping co-med student because he so clearly wanted to be a SURGEON. You could tell this was how he envisioned it in his head too, all caps. I, on the other hand...

(completely disinterested)
So, what are you going to do?

What, you mean in life? Probably Peds or Medicine.

(world-weary sigh of disgust)

We did not get along. And as close as I am still to the experience and as sympathetic as I am to the cause, I've had the experience of not getting along with my med students. Or at least being very extremely annoyed with a few of them. But it's not their fault, right? They're just trying hard, wanting to succeed, doing what they think is right. They don't need to kiss ass. They don't need to pretend to be Mother fucking Teresa. They don't even need to pretend that they want to do Pediatrics, because hey, I'm enough of a realist to realize that not everyone wants to do what I do. They just need to be on time and show up and tell the truth and give a shit. Not even a big shit. A tiny shit will do.

(The one exception on the tell-the-truth rule goes to a third-year medical student that I worked with this fall, who bitchily complained how much she HATED Peds and HATED this stupid rotation and she wanted to do NEUROSURGERY anyway because that's what she wanted to do since BIRTH and she couldn't WAIT to get away from these BORING SNOTTY PATIENTS and just dive into the BRAIN SURGERY already. That's something you might not want to say quite so loudly. In the middle of the nursing station. In front of four people who are grading your performance. Just a hint, Brain Girl. Though it was quite entertaining to watch when she and another medical student started getting into a heated argument about who wanted to do Neurosurgery first. "I wanted to do it since I was a kid!" "Well, I wanted to do it since I was a fetus!" Kids, kids, plenty of 120 hour work weeks to go around.)

Oh yeah, and call me Michelle, goddamit.

Currently reading: Cannery Row. Hey, there's a Chinese guy in this story!

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