No matter how many hours of sleep you get on that comfortable (read: rock-hard) call-room mattress, you will always feel post-call. To me this has become one of the undeniable laws of medicine. In order to succeed, you must destroy your Circadian rhythm.
That aside, some of my favorite days of my third year of medical school were post-call days. After a hard night of working, I could go home and sleep for a few hours, but then attend to the other areas of my life in the few extra hours of free time.
As a premed, I imagined what it would be like as a medical student: four arduous years studying away for hours on end in a dark library and never seeing the sun, let alone people. This illusion was thankfully shattered within the first week. The library was sunnier than I expected, I quickly made close friends and comrades among my classmates and even had time to exercise and go to church activities. And over the last three and a half years, I have been pleasantly surprised to find how some of the “fun” classes I took somewhat guiltily in undergrad ended up being the most helpful classes to my medical education:
Before I even knew what the word meant, I wanted to be an astrophysicist. In grade school I memorized my brother’s space camp manual and could tell you all of the layers of the planets in the solar system or the stars in a constellation. In middle school I read A Brief History of Time and wondered how the universe could have a larger light-year radius than its age (I later learned about the inflation that enables the fabric of the universe to stretch beyond the speed of light). I took math at the local college and wrote many of my college essays about string theory. I applied for MIT with a passion for...
To many at first glance, I appeared daring; even revolutionary. Despite my inborn timidness, I was always perceived as a confident, aggressive feminist. I suspect what they actually saw was the pre-MD (or MD now) and the inferences germinated from there. What they never saw was my true motivation to pursue medicine; to use my talents, to serve my fellow men and to heal.
The other day, in a stairwell at the hospital, I ran into a resident, who I shall refer to as Chloe. It was instant glee. I had been hoping to run into her ever since I got back to rotating at the main campus. She was my most favorite person I worked with on my surgical rotations (I was fortunate to work with her for two months), and the only thing that got me and one of my classmates through a January on acute care surgery.
As I reflected back on why I had been so happy to see her, I realized it was because Chloe was one of the few people I saw as a role model.
Things I learned from Chloe: