Admission #118: “Being selfish isn’t the same as being a bitch.”
Today I had a mid-year evaluation with my clinical mentor.
“You’re sympathetic, empathetic, and you’re doing a great job leading the team and keeping things on course,” she said.
“So in the following semester, I want you to take time to be…selfish. Work on yourself.”
I was confused.
Dr. C clearly saw my expression. “Work on your clinical reasoning skills and write-ups. You have all the tools and the abilities. Now it’s time to use them.”
I picked at my cardigan, trying to find the most professional words. “I…I know. My clinical reasoning skills need…I’m not as good as the guys. I’m just trying to…be neither ‘the stupid bitch’ nor ‘the super-bitch’. Uh,” I fumbled for words, “What I meant was…”
“Trying to find a professional word for ‘bitch’ is kind of hard.” We both laughed.
“Remember,” she said, taking a sip of coffee, “Being selfish isn’t the same as being a bitch. You have the right to ask questions, make mistakes, and butt in. You have the right to be confident the way those guys are confident. You have work to do,” she shrugged, “But you can do it.”
She smiled, “Not everything is your responsibility, you know. You don’t have to fix everything.”
Damn, she got me good.
These are the things I worry about the most, especially when I’m with my team where I feel the most vulnerable:
- I’m not good enough/smart enough to do this
- It’s always my responsibility, and ergo my fault
- I will always win the award for ‘weakest link on the team’
- I’m a minority female, in a Catch-22. Either I’m a loud-mouth bitch or a demure doormat. No matter what I do, I’m screwed.
Medicine seems to attract caretakers and other selfless folks. But we can’t take care of others if we don’t care for ourselves first. Sure, I’m not the brightest crayon in the box of five Crayolas right now, but I’m not screwed. I can and should be proud of what I can do. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants to remind myself.
“You try to keep everything peaceful and even-keeled. But that’s not your job,” said my mentor as she tidied up her papers. I stood up and began packing up my backpack.
“Time for some chaos?”
She laughed, “That’s right! Those boys have had it too nice for too long. Make them your bitches.”
I’m not really sure how to feel, but I definitely feel good. I smile a little.
“I can do that.”
Advice to Medical Students, First Year Edition
To the incoming class of 2016, read this. Gosh, I kinda want to do one of these, too!
A new academic year is beginning, which means there is a whole new crop of thousands of first years who are, at any given moment, this close to peeing themselves out of excitement or utter fear. So to calm your worries, I’ve compiled a little advice column. Here goes:
1. Don’t look at the cadaver’s face on the first day of dissection. Save that emotional challenge for a week or two in.
2. Take the amount of time you think you’ll need to study and double it. Seriously.
3. Yes, you really do have to know that minute detail about the alpha subunit of the cholera toxin molecule (there’s a reason why I still remember it. Hello first day of medical school… ah the memories).
4. Don’t pull all-nighters. If you don’t know it by 10pm, you won’t know it at 3am.
Admission #62: OSCE/OSCA (inspired by #whatshallwecallmedschool)
What is it: OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) or OSCA (Assessment) are practice tests. As a 1st year, my school does fake OSCE/OSCA. They are factored into our final scores for the given system we are learning! So today was my first BIG and IMPORTANT one.
To describe the rollercoaster of emotions that occurred…probably best done in gifs. :)
Before entering the room to begin the exam:
How I feel when the bell rings and the exam begins:
How I think I look as I evaluate the patient:
How my positive feedback made me feel:
How my negative feedback made me feel:
Oh, you say there’s class this afternoon? For 4 hours?
I decide, “I’m going to sit outdoors and study, guys!” My friends say:
Moral of the story: They were right. I didn’t study a bit. Darn it.