march madness
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Chaos is a Ladder or how clinical rotations can be overwhelming

You’re a few weeks into your rotations. You’re slowly starting to find your place in the puzzle. You’re cog in the machinery. You’re (hopefully) wise man in the nativity. The joy mountain of playing around in a hospital is slowly being eroded into the sand of cynicism via the waves of daily life. You come to realize that while a lot of medicine is about medicine, a ton more is paperwork. And you realize that you are not really at the bottom of the ladder. You are off it. Why is that? Because to be on the ladder at all, you must have some ability to contribute. But you’ve just started. You have no such ability. Depressing right?

Despair not! There is hope! All your residents and attendings are already aware of this too. (It can only get worse before it gets better). The goal is to convert this parasitic relationship into a symbiotic one.

Aim to be like the simple remora fish! Swimming along in the shadow of sharks, assisting them by removing tics, taking some of the paperwork, doing basic dentistry, and gaining enough competence and confidence to eventually shoulder some of their load. Okay, the last one might be more important (this does not mean you ignore your basic dentistry, however).

Your residents are busy enough as it is, burdened with the onus of responsibility for the health of real, live people as well as having to study at the same time, being held accountable to their attendings for the minutiae of each patient, and now they have to teach you!? You, who forgot to floss this morning, and just realized there’s a big coffee stain on your white coat? You, who are frantically trying to remember the contraindications of beta-blockers? You, who underestimated the quietude with which you could break wind?

Well, yes. You. With all your flaws. You are the future of medicine, as terrifying as everyone who knows you definitely find that. There is one goal to keep in mind when you walk into any core rotation – by the end of it, you should be competent enough to be a first year intern in that field. Now that sounds easier than it is but as long as you are making the effort, that is at least half the battle. Your main enemy is complacency – if you are not being pushed, try to push yourself. If you are being pushed, good for you – and don’t complain.

Try and get involved in every aspect of patient care. Even if it’s not your patient, pay attention. It is just really a matter of staying AAOx3 after all (which is definitely harder than it sounds). At the end of the day, one more thing you learn now is one less thing you have to learn during your first year, and so one more thing you’ll have in your arsenal and one less chance you’ll accidentally do the wrong thing.

by Prakash Jayanthi, Class of 2014