All I can say about the past week is that MS1 year spoiled me. It made me soft. I am slightly embarrassed to admit this, but after spending a year attending classes, sitting at my comfortable desk, studying when I felt up to it, napping when I felt up to that too, I forgot what it’s like to work a full 9-10 hour day. I have not been this exhausted in years.
I have spent the last week as a full-time instructor for a Summer Surgery Program for high school students. The days are long. I wake up at 5:45 am and spend the majority of my day on my feet or speaking with students. The program is really fantastic, not just for the students, but also for me since we spend 4 hours each day observing surgeries in the OR. In the afternoon we have didactics for the students–as an instructor I’ve taught things like the history of surgery, anesthesia/pre-operative care and heart and lung anatomy.
The enthusiasm I see in these kids is really inspiring. Today I showed them an aortic aneurysm repair surgery and they were mesmerized, thrilled, practically jumping up and down after we walked out of the OR. It was wonderful to see that sparkle of ambition in their eyes. A future dream in the making. They reminded me of how excited I’ve been this year with each new milestone.
My day doesn’t end when theirs does. I am also working on an independent research project in the Emergency Department and since my IRB just got approved last week, I’ve been heading over there for 3-4 hours in the evening to get things off the ground. By the time the last student has been picked up by their parents I feel like I just want to melt into my couch and not get up until the next day–somehow I find the energy to wander into the ED instead.
The funny thing is, as soon as I am in there I forget all about how sore my feet are and how physically drained I am. In the past two weeks I’ve had some amazing experiences. On multiple occasions I have been mistaken for an MS4 after someone overheard my presentation to the attending, which is pretty much the best compliment you can get as a med student. I am definitely starting to feel pretty comfortable in interviewing patients and doing physical exams–but before I get too proud of myself, I should mention they only throw me the softball patients, as in, simple cases of stomach pain or kidney stones. Either way, I am learning a crazy amount and working my ass off.
Although my level of exhaustion this week was off the scale, one night I literally fell asleep with a fork in my hand on my couch (eek!), it’s been rewarding and one of the best weeks of the summer. Here’s to another 3 weeks of early mornings!