Friday, December 19, 2008

Nine Pipers Pipin' for Vitum Medicinus

On the ninth day of Christmas, your true love gave to you, nine pipers pipin’! Where are all of those pipers going to sleep?

Thank goodness I am studying at a more rural hospital these days, in a town where large, new apartments are dirt cheap (compared to living in the city). So, there’s lots of room at my place! Bring ’em on! Now if I could only get them to stop piping past 9pm so I can sleep…

Q.1 When did you decide you wanted to be a doctor?

In high school I knew I wanted to do something healthcare-related and loved volunteering in the hospital, and so I naively just assumed the only option was to become a doctor. Fortunately, during my undergrad, I took the time to look into other healthcare professions, and find out what it is they do, and of all the things I considered, becoming a doctor always seemed to stay at the top of the list in terms of matching my personality and interests.

Q.2 What’s the best part of medical school? The worst?

Best --- the people I meet. So many fascinating people! Patients of all ages and their families, the brilliant, amazing doctors who teach us, and the many different people I work with in the hospital all make this job way more interesting than many others. Most of all, though, I’m lucky to be a part of the group that is my med school class – just picture all the nerdiest university grads, than an application and interview process screens out the ones that have done the most interesting things and are the most social, and then imagine partying with those people for four years. That’s pretty much med school right there.

Worst --- the sacrifices you have to make for it. It really does demand everything you’ve got. One doctor put it best in an article I once read in Time magazine, saying that medicine is something we are passionate about – “we gave up our 20s for it.” Most of my buddies now have a career, and an income, and free evenings and weekends, and while I know there’s a silver lining to come, right now I’m still in the thick of it. I’ve invested 6 years of hard work in this already, and am still trying to juggle a debt, studying, clinical commitments, exams, loved ones, and squeeze in some semblance of a life in and around that…and I still have at least 4 years of that left.

Q.3 Did you have another career before you started medical school?

Unlike some of the fascinating people in my class, including nurses, engineers, actors, satellite astrophysicists, and teachers, I did not. I did, however, have lots of odd, fun jobs, including graphic designer, executive intern, event coordinator, radio commercial voice artist, and pizza dough maker!

Q.4 How many times a day do you think, “Forget medical school, I’m going to get a job, or go to law school, or go to business school?”

Every time I walk by the Wendy’s, and see their sign offering jobs with benefits, great hours, and a free uniform – how could I not?! (Random fact: my friend actually is taking a year off medical school to try out law school, and worked a deal with the medicine faculty that he could come back after a year if he wanted to!)

Q.5 I know you’ve diagnosed yourself with ADHD, but what else have you “caught” since you started medical school?

What haven’t I caught would be a better question. I have a whole series of posts on diseases I’ve self-diagnosed that I have yet to type up, some of which are completely legitimate, such as reactive airways (which resolved completely when I moved out of my dusty apartment!) and oral hypersensitivity syndrome (can’t eat apple skin!). Others I’ve suspected I still haven’t been able to prove… such as depression (every med student meets the diagnostic criteria during finals!) to hypothyroidism (always tiiirrreeeddd) to dementia (around exam time especially) and congenial facial hypertrichosis (ie. the wolf-person syndrome)… okay, just kidding about that last one.

Q.6 If I promise not use the information for evil, tell me all about these “call” rooms. Where are they usually located in a hospital, what do they look like, do you share them, who is responsible for changing the sheets, do you get to use those warm blankets?

After watching Gray’s Anatomy, I was disappointed to find that none of the hospitals I work in have bunk-bed, co-ed call rooms. The ones I use can be located anywhere in a hospital, sometimes close to maternity/surgery/ICU, are usually big enough for a bed and a table with a phone, and have either a shower in the room or shared with other call rooms – how nice they are falls on quite a range depending on the hospital (med students quickly learn which hospitals are affectionately called “Hotel” because of the nicer call rooms). The hospital housekeeping staff changes the sheets daily or when the keys are returned, and we use the blankets and linens from the same pool that every patient gets to use…I try not to think about how many time the sheet or pillow could have been vomited or bled on by an extremely ill person before I use it.

Q.7 What’s the most useless thing you have ever bought?

Wow, only one thing comes to mind as soon as you ask this … it was a little electronic device I bought when I was a kid, that made a buzzing sound that is supposed to keep mosquitoes away. The buzzing was supposedly at the same frequency as the predator dragonfly wings, which apparently scared the bugs away. The stupid thing didn’t work - I still got malaria in Africa – and besides, it made the most annoying buzzing noise.

Q.8 If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

To make time stand still so I could spend more time with the people I love. I hate to sound clichĂ© but the less time I have to spend with them the more I appreciate it! (I won’t lie, though, I’d use some of that time to study more before exams!)

Q.9 Tell us about the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you since starting medical school.

I was on a class ski trip, after a long day of skiing, and I was really tired and not thinking straight (some other people would say I had lost a bet concerning my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs and thus had to drink a lot of tequila … but I’ll deny that vehemently). We were getting dinner, and I found out the waitress was a teacher who studied at a university near where I was from. I thought I was being very friendly and making polite conversation by asking her, “What did you major in, waitressing?” and I couldn’t figure out why she walked away and ignored our table for the rest of the night. At the time, my friends were much more embarrassed than I was.

Q.10 What food do you absolutely hate and will never eat?

Ooh, you’re asking a guy who will eat anything… I haven’t had anything that I won’t eat again. Those cooked semi-developed bird embryos aren’t that appealing, though, I’ll be honest.

Q.11 What’s the name of one movie that you watch over and over?

When I have time I like to dig up The Game, a 1997 movie with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn that I first saw on a plane with my dad, the first thriller I remember ever really understood what was going on.

Q.12 For the most part, nurses and doctors don’t really bitch about each other in the medblogs. Is that because there is not that much to bitch about or are do you think they are just playing nice on their medblogs?

I think it’s because for the most part, in real life they get along fine. Every nurse has a handful of cruel doctor stories, and every doctor has a handful of incompetent nurse stories, but 99% of the time the interactions they are productive and professional. That being said, I do have a nasty story about a doctor yelling at a nurse that I am hoping to post when I have some free time during Christmas… it will definitely ruffle some feathers!

Q.13 What do your co-workers (or classmates?) do that really irritate you?

Act all stressed out all the time, and freak out about stupid little things, and then ask me about them instead of looking in their e-mail or on their schedules.

Q.14 Tell me the craziest thing you have ever seen at one of those wild hospital Christmas parties I’m always hearing about.

Sorry but my lawyer won’t allow me to discuss issues that are part of an ongoing police investigation.

Q.15 Do you play a musical instrument?

Yep – I’ve taken lessons in viola, trombone, and piano (and classical singing…okay, fine, call it opera… does that count?) but only really play the viola now.

Holiday Quickfire Questions.


a. reindeer – um…the one with acne rosacea… alcoholic…red nose…what’s his name….ahh Rudolph, that’s the one! my old buddy, always spiking the egg nog!

b. cookie – the soft yummy gingerbread cookies my amazing girlfriend made me this week

c. carol – Ukrainian bell carol

d. holiday television show – Jingle All the Way, a 1996 movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phil Hartman and Sinbad that is quickly becoming a Christmas classic. Not sure why I love it so much.

e. activity – doing anything with my friends & family

Thank you for being my ninth day of Christmas, Vitum Medicinus.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great interview!

In regards to question 13, I feel the EXACT same way. It's really annoying.