We finished our last Block Exam before break today, and it feels great to be done for two whole weeks. And with that, 2014 and half of MS2 (actually, more than half) is in the books.
I’ve had many friends in schools across the country boast about being “3/8ths an MD!”, and it doesn’t feel like it’s been an entire year since the “1/8th an MD!” was filling up my Facebook wall.
But what exactly does that even mean? I don’t want any part of it. Why? Because it takes more, in my mind, than just finishing a semester to have really grown as a physician-in-training. I don’t really feel as though it’s as quantifiable as chunks of time, or progresses in a linear fashion. Rather, I feel that it is the total experience that will make me a % of an MD… and in all reality and honesty, I feel like M3 will be the biggest predictor of that, learning on the fly with real patients. Sure, we’re (finally!) learning things that are actually clinically relevant, but there is a huge separation between learning what something looks like from a slide in Pathoma to facing a patient, eye to eye, making a diagnosis and writing up a plan of treatment–a challenge and a role that I am eagerly and anxiously awaiting.
When will I feel like 100% an MD? I don’t know. From speaking with upperclassmen and friends that are years ahead of me, it takes a long, long time… which accounts for why our training is so long and arduous, and doesn’t simply end once we get our diplomas and shiny new initials. I for one am not ready for that level of responsibility for patients’ health and well-being, but I’m getting there. This year has been great for building my clinical confidence during shadowing and our communication-based LSP sessions–and yet I know that there is so much that I am still missing, which will make itself known during the first rotation in late June/early July of 2015.
So far, the moments that I feel most like I’m actually training to be a physician is when I’m seeing a patient or reading through a vignette and I think to myself, “$#!&, I know what they have!” … which of course means that I am learning… and at a remarkable pace with breadth and depth… but I am still convinced that the clinical years of my training will make the preclinical learning phase seem slow and even naive.
Finishing another semester is indeed an accomplishment in itself, and I am relieved to get to spend the holidays with my family and friends without having to study, so I can feel like myself again, but please, don’t call me that yet.