LCHM Spring 2017 - 23

L C M E D S O C .O R G


spent the better part of my senior
year of college grappling with uncertainty. I had devoted months to
writing my application. I agonized
over standardized test scores. I racked
up thousands of miles and thousands of
dollars, all in pursuit of an elusive medical
school acceptance. Now, I write this as a
fourth year medical student, and it feels
deeply ironic and entirely fitting that each
of these statements still applies - I've come
full circle. Four years later, and the more
things change, the more they stay the same.

The last four years have been a whirlwind
of contradictory emotion - exhilaration
and exhaustion, jubilation and heartbreak. As medical school draws to an
all-too-rapidly-approaching end, I find
myself desperately clawing for some way
to take stock of the experience.
How do you measure a medical school
education? What metrics do you use?

The measure of a medical
education seems entirely
too obvious now - it's the


It was the confidence that I envied the
most. I spent exactly one day celebrating
my acceptance to medical school; every
day since has been consumed by some
degree of "impostor syndrome." I was
convinced the admissions committee had
made some critical error, that it was only a
matter of time before I was found out for
substandard intelligence or for misplaced
ideals of medicine. But maybe if I wore
that short white coat and acted the part, I
could convince people that I belonged. If
I was lucky, I might even persuade myself.

but we have also shared the discovery of
experiences that will characterize the rest
of our careers - the thrill of childbirth,
the stakes of a code blue, the nightmarish
hallucinations of a schizophrenic, and the
devastation of a dying newborn. We have
witnessed the human condition in its most
elemental forms - triumph and suffering.

I'm writing this from a hotel lobby
far from home, on my final stop of the
interview trail. My classmates are similarly
dispersed across the country. In a few
months we will reconvene briefly for
But that coat, and whatever authority Match Day and graduation. Then we will
came with it, only heightened my inse- part ways for good. Medical school will
curity. Patients divulged deep, personal be over. And while there will be reunions
secrets to me. Strangers acknowledged and weddings, and many of us will keep
I could just as easily point to the scores me with a smile and a "Hey, Doc!" in in touch, it will never be the same. And
of memorized mnemonics, and mne- hospital corridors. One even paid for my I will miss that.
monics for those mnemonics. There's lunch when I found myself wallet-less in
always the student loan debt, the size of a cafeteria line, dismissing my objections
which long ago passed the limits of my with "You take care of others; let me take
comprehension. Perhaps my exponentially care of you." Each felt like an undeserved
increasing amount of gray hair (though still courtesy, and I wanted to scream - I'm a
a minority, if the pace keeps up, I will go fraud! And now at the end of four years,
full Anderson Cooper by my mid-thirties). I've found that my only bulwark against
the impostor syndrome has been two short
Maybe the last four years can be mea- words from a classmate: "Me too."
sured by the accumulation of medical
knowledge. During the pre-clinical period,
And there's the answer. The measure of
fourth year-medical students were practi- a medical education seems entirely too
cally deities to me. They had an intellect obvious now - it's the friendships.
and a confidence that I was desperate for.
Their position seemed unattainable, and
The bonds forged in medical school
yet, they also held a promise - if I trusted escape whatever writing abilities I have.
in the process, I might get there too.
We have learned about medicine, yes,

Maybe all those hours spent poring
over cadaver anatomy in the gross lab?
The stacks of loose-leaf with increasingly
indecipherable sketches of nephrons
and neurons? How about ballpoint pens
"borrowed" by attending physicians, never
to be seen again?

SPRING 2017 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 23


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LCHM Spring 2017

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