Monday, November 14, 2011

Let's smoke pot and play computer games

There are some words that are just about impossible to say cooley (like, "cooley").

Try to talk about marijuana and sound cool.

"We are going to go smoke some pot".  Thanks for the update, Baby-boomer.  Let me know how groovy it is and if you guys are going to the Simon and Garfunkel concert later.

"Those guys are going to eat weed brownies".  I hope they get a glass of milk with those and don't stay up too late watching Animaniacs, they have a big homework assignment due at the end of the week.

Using a desktop is another one.

"Let me just write this down on my PC".  Oh right, take whatever time you need to write on your "Personal Computer".  Do you think you can get me a copy with your Dot Matrix Printer, or better yet, Fax it to me.

"I have a desktop".  Cool dude, can't wait to come over and play computer games.  Should I bring a joystick so we can both play Civilization or SimCity 2000?

I've just started saying, "I don't have a mac".  That basically answers people's questions.

Friday, November 4, 2011

So you want to get into med school...

I often get asked how med school and residency works.  It's not really clear or intuitive and most people get their information from extremely accurate TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and Scrubs.  As someone who finally understands it, and I can assure you I did not until probably this year, let me do a bit of explaining.

For pre-med, I've given a decent explanation here, so I'll leave it alone.  I'll move on to first year.  This year is all about minutia.  It has been said that you spend the first year learning a language, and that is more or less accurate.  Particularly first year, your life is to learn basic science, basic science related to medicine.  This is like getting hired as a lawyer and then being asked to spend a year learning how books get made.  You learn new fancy words, with no idea how to use them or what they really mean.  You hear about things that sound important, but don't really exist.  The kind of thing where your attending* sees primary syphilis and is like, "It does exist!", and he's been doing it since the pre-antibiotic era. You definitely learn a lot, but it's mostly useless or won't stick. The major utility of this year is to drink and hook up with your classmates.

The summer between 1st and 2nd year is the only summer med students get.  This is a hard concept to understand for the rest of the working world, who assumes school is school and schooooooooool's out.for.summa! It's not.  And most people work this summer, doing research.  Lawyers get paid around 30,000 for the summer.  We get paid around 3,000.  If you have a good grant.  Again, a good time to drink and sit by a pool and regret hooking up with your classmates.

Year 2.  This is pretty much the same, but they get your ready for the wards**.  You do things like see standardized patients; paid actors who pretend to be sick and then give you feedback afterward that is always the same, one good thing, one bad thing, and "how do you think it went?"  "I think it went about as well as it could go considering you aren't sick and I've seen you tending bar at The Back Saloon.  We were both there last night.  Didn't have a bum knee then, did you?".  We learn physical exam, interviewing skills, basically all of the stuff that teaches you how to diagnose the fact that you need to order a cat scan.

At the end of this year, you take Step 1. This is the MCAT for residencies and is a super painful test.  More about it here.

More on year 3 and 4.

*Note: An attending is the head doctor (Dr. Cox, if you will) who runs the show, makes final decisions, and pimps the shit out of you.
**Note: The wards is the name for actually being in the hospital.  Clinics is a synonym.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm like a super hero but without being super or a hero

In response to my recent post, truthfully, I've had to pull back on everything.  I'm basically hiding from the internet right now.  I have to apply for residencies which is, for all its other bullshit, still a job.  So posting poop jokes on twitter and the pictures of me in cat-face for the month of July are not cool, bro, not cool.

Privatize this, anonymize that, stop making up words like anonymize; life in the real world blows.  I realize the problem, you can't have doctors going around writing shit like I write, saying the shit I say, using the word "shit" so often.  It's unprofessional and makes people lose faith in doctors.  So I keep it anonymous.

Although in reality, I'm a work hard, play hard kind of person and I never mean anything but a joke.

I can complain about med school and make jokes about rectal exams being uncomfortable, but I don't dislike my patients and I don't dislike my work.  I'm ecstatic to be doing what I'm doing and take it very seriously.  That's why I write this.  It's an outlet for me to get all of the jokes out of my system before I walk into a manic patient's room, because when they start telling my team a 25 minute rambling story about a cat, going into exquisite detail about the cat, never letting focus get off the cat for more than a sentence, when they finally finish talking about the cat, if I don't have an outlet, then I feel it necessary to blurt out, "Sorry, you said you had a cat? Can you tell me more about that?".  That tends to make me unpopular with my colleagues (although super popular with the manic patients).  So I get the jokes out now.

A question that gets asked on interviews with a frequency high enough that I'm pretty sure it's  JCAHO* required interview question is, "how do you deal with stress? how do you relax?".  You have to say things like, "exercise" and "playing with underprivileged minority children", but even a legit real outlet, like writing a blog, is a huge no-no.  I took certain things off my application that were actually impressive and show me to be a well-rounded individual because you can google them.  Since this is just a job and they don't care how well-rounded I am, I'd rather them think I'm boring than think that I write the word "shit" so frequently.

I guess this is the duel-life I have signed up for, by day, mild mannered doctor, by night, slightly annoyed doctor, every month or so, when I have a free hour or so, dude who writes a shitty blog.

*note: JCAHO is the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.  They are the standards committee that comes by once a year "without warning" and makes sure that people aren't like tossing needles into patients from a distance or letting patients just wee where they want.  They are sticklers for things like washing hands and not weeing wherever you want.  A real drag.  They would never sanction a question about the well-being of doctors because they would never care about the well-being of doctors.