It’s pretty easy to describe your first two years of medical school – classroom. Sitting in a classroom. Studying in a classroom. Taking an exam in a classroom. Seriously, that sums it up. While there are details to share, I will leave that to my esteemed colleagues Dru (OMS-II) and Justin (OMS-I). Third year is a different beast. There are still exams and there are still classrooms. However, our classrooms transition to surgical suites, clinical exam rooms, and hospital beds. The exams become more frequent (it’s called getting pimped) and more meaningful. Wrong answers here don’t always translate into lower grades but they can impact a patient’s life. This is where we begin to learn what physicians do – the nuances of medicine no one can teach in a classroom.
Here’s how third year breaks down at DCOM. In about March, each OMS-II is assigned a clinical rotation site and a “core” slot (core 1 or core 2). What’s a core? Glad you asked! Core rotations are rotations that every student who graduates from DCOM has to complete. For OMS-III’s they are:
- Internal Medicine
- Family Medicine
- Behavioral Medicine
Each rotation is 4 weeks long, except for internal medicine which is 8 weeks in length. I’m sure you’re looking at that list of 28 week’s worth of work and thinking where the other 24 weeks went. The remaining time is split between vacation time (YEA!) and selective/elective rotations. Selective/elective rotations can essentially be done in any specialty allowing for exposure to different fields of medicine. While there are some minor restrictions, there aren’t many. The biggest restriction is that you have to say in the United States. Bummer? Sure, but that’s something that keeps me looking forward to fourth year…British Isles, here I come!
I was assigned to our brand new rotation site in Fort Smith, Arkansas. It was such a great deal for our family! The move has put us so much closer to family, which is a big deal when you have a kiddo at home! The Fort (how I lovingly refer to Fort Smith) has been an awesome place to live. Friendly citizens, beautiful landscape, and most importantly, Target :) It’s been great. I was given core 2 so the rotations listed above won’t start for me until January 2014. So far I have completed two selective rotations – one in Pediatrics and one in Cardiology. I loved both and learned a lot. Picking a specialty is going to be tough for me, I can tell already.
In these short 8 weeks, I have learned what I believe to be a very valuable lesson. My two wonderful preceptors embodied what I believe should be at the heart of everything in medicine – teaching. These two men are doctors in the truest sense of the word; after all, the word doctor derives from the Latin verb docere (to teach). I listened to these men explain very complex disease processes simply, removing the complexity which bogs down so many students (because that is what is asked of us the first two years). I was struck by the ease with which they answered questions and the way I struggled to do the same. To teach you must truly understand, and it is clear I still have a lot of work to do. Patients don’t come to the doctor solely to be taught about what ails them. They come for the teacher to provide a remedy for what ails them. That’s where you find the work of a physician. The term physician comes with rather twisted etymology. Summed up, the root physic can mean to cure or heal…to remedy. (Seriously, that’s what it means – I had no idea either).
The practice of medicine truly is art and science. Both take years of practice and seeing hundreds of patients. This is what I couldn’t learn in a classroom but learned in the clinic: at my core must be both doctor and physician – teacher and healer. Not bad for eight weeks.
Oh, and I guess I learned a lot about babies, kids, hearts, and murmurs too :) I’ll share more about that later. Met some special people too and I’m sure they’ll creep into my stories from time to time. Starting Monday it’s all about the allergies! For now, I’m going to enjoy my family and stalk Pinterest
Until next time, take care!