It's probably foolish for me to use the little time I have to blog rather than to sleep, eat, have a long shower or soak in the tub, or study. I arrived home at just after 9:00 p.m. following a seventeen-hour shift. My brother was entertaining his latest paramour when I walked in, but I was too tired to make it upstairs to my bedroom and too tired even to care. I fell asleep on the living room sofa within seconds of entering the condo. The two of them either called it a night or relocated to the privacy of Matthew's bedroom. If they had any major action going on, they were at least polite enough to keep their moans quiet enough not to disturb my sleep. Unless one of them has to be at work early, I'll probably never know whether I put the kibosh on their night of passion or actually accelerated it. C'est la vie.
In any event, I awoke five hours later feeling as though I'd gotten a full night's sleep. I'm probably awake for good now. There's still ample time to bathe, eat, and even to get in a bit of study before returning to work in another three hours or so.
After completing a period of travel and interviews in preparation for my residency, I'm now fulfilling a four-week subinternship in the area of pediatric surgery. Following two years of formal classroom education in the parts and functions of the human body and in various maladies and injuries interfering with said functions, and following more than a year of required and optional clinical training in multiple areas, my medical school career is winding down. I've completed all units of study required of every student. Now I need only to get through this subinternship, complete another subinternship in pediatric medicine (I've chosen to complete a second subinternship, this one in pediatric medicine, rather than to fulfill an additional clerkship rotation), and to complete three additional elective clerkships. Besides Christmas break, I will have one additional (and much-needed) block of time off. Even more important to me, that light of the end of the tunnel that has for so long eluded me is finally beginning to come into view.
A subinternship is a sort of trial internship in a selected field of medicine. A sub-intern is given a greater patient volume and greater responsibility than a regular medical school student would be given in a rotation and is treated much as an intern would be treated except that legality doesn't permit a sub-intern to enter patient orders. (A senior resident handles that duty.) It's a time to show one's skills, ideally in a positive light. It's also a time to confirm one's interest in a particular field of medicine. Realistically, it's a time to show off ever so slightly.
It's still very early in my subinternship. I haven't yet had any opportunity to show off, which is to be expected. Early in one's subinternship, the goal is more along the lines of not exposing any glaring weaknesses, not committing any professional breaches or faux pas, and of not making a total fool of oneself. The opportunities to strut one's stuff will come later.
My cast has been removed. I limped noticeably for several days, but the limp grew less noticeable with each day of freedom from the cast. If you've never had a cast on your leg or foot, it's probably difficult for you to imagine regaining the skill of walking following removal of a cast. Even if there were no injury involved, with one's leg in a cast -- even a walking cast, which my cast was not -- the cast is doing much of the work involved in supporting the leg and the entire body. When the cast is removed, the leg has temporarily forgotten how to function. I'm now walking relatively limp-free and am eagerly awaiting my doctor's OK to run once again. Today I scrubbed in for a nearly four-hour surgery. My leg barely held out. Had it gone another twenty minutes, I would have needed to excuse myself, which, though probably understandable, wouldn't have done much in the way of creating a favorable impression on my second day on the job in this sub-internship. I'm really glad things ended when they did.
I believe I touched upon my technological ineptitude in a recent blog post. A friend was curious as to how I got to the point at which I now am with so few cell phone skills. I think I detailed the explanation both to him and on the blog, I thought about it a bit more as I was waiting around for the senior resident to make her appearance. (Though I cannot enter the orders, I draft them and then wait around for a senior resident to look them over, make necessary changes, and enter them.)
I will complete medical school at roughly the age most people start. If you're into statistics, my age of twenty-three years in June would probably be the mode, or most frequently appearing age, for students entering med school. Those with outlying ages have far greater variance in ages above the mode than in ages below it It's not uncommon to have a forty-year-old entering a med school program (the mode age + 17 years) but we don't have, at least here in the U.S., students 17 years below the mode age, or six years of age, beginning medical school. Thus, both the mean and median ages for entering medical school students are above what my age will be in June, but twenty-three is single the most common age of students upon entry to medical school, with twenty-two being second (and first in some years; it's getting slightly older with kindergarten entrance ages of various states gradually getting higher).
I started and will finish early because a) I have a late birthdate relative to the kindergarten entrance age; I turned five on December 2 of my kindergarten year, which was at the time in California was the very latest birthdate allowed for a student entering kindergarten; b) I skipped one grade of middle school by completing just one semester of seventh grade and one semester of eight grade; c) I completed two university courses in each year of high school and took a heavy load of academic placement courses, which allow university credit with passage of associated exams in conjunction with the course work Had I not completed both music performance and microbiology majors, I could have completed my undergraduate degree program in just two years rather than the three that it took me.
My academic accomplishments from the ages of four to nineteen were in excess of what the average student accomplishes in those years. My level of intelligence, while certainly adequate, is not highly unusual, nor would I be considered even an unusually high achiever by most standards. The only way for me to achieve what I did achieve in the interval of time in which I achieved it was for me to have forsaken some pursuits or activities in favor of those I chose. Looking at the person I am now, it seems clear that I neglected social and technological areas in favor of academic pursuits. I am by no means suggesting or recommending the same course for anyone else. I'm not even sure that it was the wisest path for me to have followed. Rather, I am acknowledging that a person cannot accomplish one thing without sacrificing something else; what I gave up was a large portion of a social life and much of the technological experience typical for a person of my age.