I find myself asking that questions and still not believing I am going to be a Dr. It is crazy to think about how much I have learned in medical school over the past year. Yet last night I was reminded how much I still don't know. I volunteered to work at MedZou, the free clinic run by Mizzou medical students in Columbia. As an M1/M2 you have the role of initially interviewing the patient. I feel like I can handle that pretty well, still miss a few disease specific questions but hold me own (at least I think). It is nicer now that the clinic flow pairs a M1/M2 interviewer with a M3/M4 student doctor. You see in the third and forth yrs of school you are placed on clinical rotations so you actually are treating patients. Don't worry there are fully trained doctors supervising and giving orders to ensure patient safety, most of the time. By pairing interviewers with a student doctor we (M1s) get a bit of assistance and guidance if we forget to ask a question. Also we get to go in and help with the physical exam. It is a neat learning experience and there are a wide variety of people to meet.
Sorry back to the point of this story. Last night while working I felt so stupid because I really could only interview and even when a pt came in with acne I didn't know all the right questions to ask. I needed to ask a bunch of endocrine questions which I didn't. Thankfully my student doctor partner was there to follow everything up. In addition to my lack of interview skills he asked if I wanted to do the physical exam and chart it, oh crap I haven't done that since block 2. Not to mention we flew through that but I still remember the cranial nerves!
The bottom line here is that I am not close to being a real doctor but I am on my way. There is so much I will learn by doing in the next few years I think next year I will be able to do a physical exam and even chart it more comfortably. I need to get over my worrying about making a mistake because I will for sure make plenty, I already have. The thing that I forget is that everything is a teaching experience and the patients know that, the physicians know that and my fellow students know that. As much of a hierarchy as there is I think there is also sympathy or maybe empathy is the better word for those in the beginning of their medical career. Those individuals who are further along have all been the low man on the totem pole and know what it is like. I just hope they remember that.
My name is Meg and I am currently a Geriatrics and Palliative Care Fellow at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. I started this blog several years ago as a way to remember and talk about what I experienced while studying abroad in Rwanda during the summer of 2009.