Recently, I got to show off some of my skills during a study in my lab.
We were trying a new technique to run a new experiment, hoping that the results could point us in a new direction for a new grant, and might even lead us to work with some new collaborators. In essence, this was a pretty big deal, and the three of us were excited for this new round of surgeries. I was excited to be able to learn something new.
T had previous experience with this certain procedure, so he was in a teaching mood. The first attempt did not go the way he wanted, so he tried a second time before getting the results he wanted… but it was a slow process, and he still wasn’t happy with the procedure.
When I was hired two years ago, one of my training modules was a similar procedure. I managed to get an extra training day to practice this one new procedure over the span of an afternoon. That was the only time I’ve ever even attempted such a thing. So when I saw that T was having difficulty, I asked if he had ever thought of doing it the other way. He asked me to show him.
So two years after training, I was asked point-blank to work my magic. I was shaking in my shoes, but I didn’t hesitate. So I prepped our subject, checked my position twice… and nailed it! M was on the sidelines, praising my wonderful technique. T was happy. I was quite pleased with myself, excited that I had performed well even without having done that procedure in such a long time.
I know that someday, an attending or preceptor is going to say to me, Go do [procedure]. I can’t hesitate. And now I know that I better not speak up if I can’t perform.
I came home to find the newest issue of my neurology magazine waiting for me, a gift subscription from a friend. As I was flipping through this issue, I came upon a letter written by someone with multiple sclerosis (MS). She was describing how scared and upset she was when she was first diagnosed. I know that when I get to the point of making my first diagnoses, I’m going to be so excited that I “got it right”, but in my excitement I may just forget how devastating some of these illnesses may be for my patient. It’s one thing to celebrate success, and another to be a compassionate physician.
I can’t wait to be a medical student. I cannot wait for August to get here so I can begin the process of being a physician. I pray that God molds me into a physician that can excel at diagnosing while still being compassionate and understanding of my patients’ situations and concerns.