Thursday, February 03, 2005

Freaking Me Out

The powers that be at my school held a class meeting today to freak me and the rest of my classmates out.
Phrases like "graduation," and "getting your lives together," and "plan ahead," were uttered several times.
Apparently, we are reaching that time in medical school when we actually have to face the reality of being shoved out of the shelter of school and into the real world. with our third year barely halfway over, it is time for us to start planning and scheduling our fourth year.
The beauty of the fourth year of school is that it is basically a "do it yourself" year. We get to choose the rotations we want to do, and to a certain extent we choose when and where we want to do them. There are three rotations and one class that we are required to complete, but they exist in the sense of categories, meaning that we have to do a months of Critical Care, but it can be in the medical intensive care unit, the neonatal intensive care unit, the surgical intensive care unit, the emergency room, or some other types of intensive care units.
The problem is that the rotations we choose and when we do them and where we do them are actually going to be of importance. No longer can I say, "oh, that sounds cool." Instead, I have to actually think in terms of "oh, that sounds cool, AND it is something I am interested in doing for the rest of my life, and therefore I need to take that rotation in Septmeber because I want to impress these doctors and be able to get a letter of recommendation for residency, and those are due in October."

Somehow I ended up with this afternoon off, so ever since the meeting I have been looking through the catalog of electives, looking at the possible schedules, making lists, drawing arrows, circling things, crossing things out, and in general, the longer I do this,

People have started asking me when I have to decide what kind of doctor I will be, and when I say "in the next 8 months," the response has been, "Oh, well that is plenty of time."
Not for me.
I have spent the last 26 years avoiding deciding on a specific profession. I have carefully shrouded myself in the dream world of academia and school. And now they want me to dacide on one thing to do for the rest of my working life?

As Tommy will attest, even the daily decision of what to have for dinner is gut wrenching for me. "Do I really want spaghetti tonight? Maybe I would have spaghetti tomorrow night, and should have grilled cheese tonight. But if I have grilled cheese tonight, then I might not want to have pizze tomorrow, and pizza might be the only decent thing available in the cafeteria at lunch tomorrow. I did just have spaghetti two days ago, though, maybe I should have pizza tonight..."

I have started trying to look for signs as to what I should go into. I have tried to close my eyes and imagine myself as a doctor, and what kind of doctor I see in my mind's eye. I have tried to find things that I know I definitely would never want to do with my life. The only things I can rule out for sure are anything that has to do with poop and most things that would have to do with the penis. I like kids. I like old people. I like being in outpatient clinics, and I like being on the inpatient service. I like the medicine side and I like the surgery side.
So, here I sit, writing this in order to both avoid actually making any decisions and hoping that by getting my thoughts on the screen, I will maybe see some kind of clue. Then I glance to my left and sitting on the table is the calendar they gave us, and my own notes and scratch marks and highlighting and general insanity.

The only things I know for sure are that I am going to New Zealand in February of 2006 and that I graduate on May 20, 2006.

Other than that, I am clueless.