I subscribe "Pulse", a weekly internet-based literary journal. Some of the pieces are so-so but others are absolutely wonderful; this week being one of the later. The story was titled "Broken" and tells of a pivotal moment all medical professional go through, the point where our idealistic nature gives way to jaded frustration. Besides being a good read, it hit close to home as the shifting mindset of budding physicians is something I've been thinking (and talking) about a lot recently.
Last week I had my first official meet up with my "first-year buddy" where I passed along a piece of advice I had been given by a doctor-friend. Before I began this doctor-friend told me that her biggest reget was not keeping a paper journal throughout her med school journey, as she knew she was profoundly changed, but lacked documentation of the evolution. I was already keeping a journal at the time (having started during the interview trail) but have used her words as motivation to keep up the practice. When I passed these words on to my buddy, she immediately asked what, if any, changes I had noticed so far? To which I responded with a simple "yes". It is not easy to express how an experience changes you. It is even harder to do when you don't view all these changes as positive. And harder still is to present this information in a way that it wont bias the experience of my first-year buddy.
While I have not yet "broken", what are some of the things that have changed over the past year? The top 3, or at least the 3 I feel like mentioning right now, are:
1) I have become more impatient with people and with bull shit. Because my time is overly structured and because I can't take a break from studying without feeling guilty, I find myself inpatient to anything or anyone that slows down my productivity.
2) My vocabulary has changed. I now use words like "acute", "lateral", and "pathological" in every day, non-medical, conversation. I also triage my conversations with friends in order to extract the most important information first. I blame this on being impatient .(see #1)
3) Having yet to see a really successful model of personal life for career driven physicians, I have been making peace with the idea of potentially not getting married and having children. (see previous entries with "family" labels)
I am sure that I will continue to change over the course of medical school and my career, and am hopefully that these changes will be chronicled in my paper journal and maybe also on this here blog. I sincerely hope that I never significantly change or break to the point of being driven away from medicine and the idealistic desire to do good in this world. If I do, I hope that I, like the author of the article, can find ways to be reminded of my goals and be made whole again.