Best and Worst Experiences during Clinical Rotations in High School: Why I’m Not a Doctor Part 1

I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger, but I gave it up because I didn’t want to lose my humanity. In high school I, essentially, took a year long, intensive, crash course in anatomy and (more so) physiology. I was a sponge. I absorbed everything. (Except vitamins and minerals. Those were not interesting to me at all.) It’s amazing how knowledgeable I became from that one year. I remember sketching anatomically correct hearts and coloring them for fun.

I also remember going into clinical rotations the following year (11th grade) and feeling incredibly awkward about it. I was wicked book smart, but catastrophically inept when it came to people skills. (Still not great at it…) Which means 90% of my clinical rotations went like this:

 

Dr.:

“…and that’s what we do in [insert area of hospital here].”

Catastrophically Inept at Social Skills 17 Year Old Me:

*nods*

Both of us:

*AWKWARD SILENCE*

 

It was almost worst if the medical professional I was shadowing tried to converse with me. Most of my answers were short and direct. Example:

Dr.: 

“…and that’s what we do in [insert area of hospital here]. What area do you want to go into or what are you interested in besides medicine?”

Me:

I’m not sure yet. Um, I like to read.

Dr.:

Oh, that’s okay. It takes time to figure that out. What kind of books do you like to read?

Me:

Uh, really anything as long as it’s fiction.

Dr.*Sees I am most definitely not the conversational type*:

…that’s nice. Yeah, when I was younger [insert personal story here to fill up my silence]

 

The worst example is when I made a conscious attempt to be more conversational because I had read somewhere that it’s good to take interest and ask questions. That gets people talking according to some self help text I read. So, I mustered up some anxiety ridden courage and asked the cardiologist I was with that day a question (who, to make things worse, happened to be the father of one of the girls in my clinicals class). It went like this:

 

Dr.:

So, we evaluate patients using a stress test.

Me.: *Thinking: Don’t let the silence hang. Say something! Ask a question! Show him you are interested in the topic and want to know more!*

So… what does a stress test consist of? (…yes… I actually spoke this very formal way back then. Even around friends. It was sometime this year that I began simplifying [read: dumbing down] my speech.)

Dr.: *Stares at me for a second* *Responds in a this is completely obvious, I don’t know why you asked that question tone*

It’s a stress test. We put the patient on a treadmill and stress the patient.

Me:

*feels stupid* *silent for the rest of the day*

 

…But I digress.

Before the flood of vile flashbacks, I planned to recount my best rotation. For that, let’s backtrack a bit. In high school, I didn’t study. I just learned in class. And retained all of the information. When it came time for a test I simply reviewed (read: quickly read through) my notes from class and presto! high A’s. Here’s the best rotation I had:

 

Nuclear Medicine Dr.:

See here?

*points to a patient scan with some mass or other abnormality*

This patient had [insert some diagnosis that I’ve long since forgotten]. Do you know what [insert some medical term related to the patient’s case] is?

Me: *Enthused this isn’t a personal question and is something I can answer with much more ease*

Yeah, that’s [insert correct answer].

Dr.: *Intrigued I got it right*

Right!

*Continues discussing case* *Brings up new scan*

Now this patient had [insert some other diagnosis that I’ve long since forgotten]. Do you know what [insert some medical term related to the patient’s case] is?

Me: *Glad for another question I can answer*

Yeah, that’s [insert correct answer].

Dr.: *Very intrigued now*

What’s [some medical thing]?

Me: 

[insert correct answer]

Dr.: 

What’s [some medical thing]?

Me: 

[insert correct answer]

He was rapid fire quizzing me now and I was gaining confidence with every correct answer. A couple questions later:

Dr.:

Where are the thyroid glands?

Me: *Nervous because thyroid glands were only briefly mentioned in class. Once.*

*Hesitates then uses both index fingers to point to my throat on a fuzzy educated guess*

Dr.: *Satisfied at last, asks with genuine interest*

What area do you want to go into?

Me: *Still buzzing because I got the last question right* *Confidently answers*

I want to be a nurse.

Dr.:

A NURSE?! You have to aim higher! It’s better to struggle at something difficult than to excel at something easy. Don’t you think?

Me: *Thinking about doing very well in my regular level classes and just well in my AP and IB classes, but learning things on a much deeper level*

*Thinking about the fact that I took those higher level courses because I truly believe it’s better to challenge yourself and do okay than not to and breeze by.*

*Tentatively* Yeah, I think you’re right.

Dr.: *Gives me an encouraging look and a hint of a smile*

Don’t conform with being a nurse. Be a doctor.

 

Then he gave me his business card and urged me to contact him if I ever had any questions. I assure you no other doctor gave me their business card. Nor did I ever impress another doctor. Not surprising, since I probably said as many words to the Nuclear Medicine doctor as to all the other doctors the rest of the year combined. And no, I am not omitting his name for privacy reasons. (I’d give him a pseudo name, if that was the case.)

I actually lost his card sometime after that school year. I was not able to remember his name, let alone call him when I began doubting the whole doctor thing when I began university. Not that I would have called him anyway, because… you know… severe anxiety. I did go over to the nuclear medicine department at that hospital sometime before going off to university though. I had hoped to run into him, but I didn’t see him and I didn’t even know his name to leave a message. :/

 

If you’ve read the My Life Now section of my blog, you know that I’m here in Puerto Rico as part of a dietetic internship instead of in med school.

I’m sorry, Nuclear Medicine Doctor, high school clinicals teacher Ms. Dee, all of my clinicals classmates who expected medical greatness of me, all of my teachers that swore up and down I’d go on to excel as a doctor, my AVID teacher Ms. Dar, my parents, and myself. I’m sorry.

~*~*~

My next deterrent from medical school wasn’t the crushing fear of losing my humanity. (Though that was always present.) It was a wrong click when I enrolled to university. Come back for part two next week to read about fateful click!

Note:

Picture is of my physiology class material sophomore year in university.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s