Saturday, April 20, 2013

Where are the balloons?!

Yesterday was the last day of my surgery rotation, which also happened to be the last day I had to show up to the hospital as a lowly medical student. Of course it ended with me racing in for a 0730h ward round which didn't happen, giving me time to kill before surgical Grand Rounds. Afterwards our professor of surgery gave us a little pre-finals pep talk which included the well worn phrases:

-don't worry, these are the easiest exams you write in medical school
-know the basics
-you'll be fine
-try not to get too stressed
-know all the medical emergencies
-soon it will be over and you'll wonder what all the fuss was about

It was an uncharacteristically nice and reassuring discussion with him, though it did nothing for my chronic teeth grinding and constant gut-ache. After a few questions about exam specifics from the others I asked him if he was going to miss us. He said (sarcastically) yes, and I will especially miss your esoteric and obscure contributions to tutorial from the corner of the room.


(If I leave a legacy of esoteric obscurity behind then I feel I have succeeded as a student in surgery. In much the same way I felt I succeeded in internal medicine when I received an email from one of consultants telling me about a banjo competition this week. Reassuring to know that my true personality somehow shone through my crusted, exhausted exterior.)

We were dismissed after that and a cluster of us emerged into the morning sunlight, blinking and saying goodbyes and good-luck to one another. It was surreal. I was FINISHED my medical school rotations! Where was the fanfare? Where was the receiving line of dancing nurses and interns patting me on the back, handing me pizza, and popping Champagne corks?

I remembered a conversation I had this summer while I was on my pediatric emergency elective. One of the docs was telling me about his last night as a resident, at the end of his 5 year program. He was walking down the dim corridors, leaving after a night shift, "This was MY hospital, I kept these wards humming through the night for five years. I spent my LIFE in these halls...and when I walked through the automatic doors at the end of that shift I didn't get a handshake or a thank you or a good luck. It was just over and I was standing in the parking lot, in the rain, and it wasn't MY hospital anymore". 

I got it when he told me this story but hadn't thought about it until I left the hospital yesterday. I had a very similar feeling as I drove out of the unbelievable chaos pit they call a parking lot. I cranked up the Mumford and Sons with a fitting song, and left a little mental trail of confetti, streamers, and balloons behind me...


Justin said...

You write so well, it just draws me into each succinctly described experience. I feel like I was there with you, listening to Mumford and Sons while peeling out of that parking lot. Hats off to you.

Albinoblackbear said...

Thanks, Justin. :)

Fordo said...

Way to go, ABB. Its been a lot of fun following you these last few years. I still remember your frustration trying to enter medical school and now you're done and on your way back to Canada! Way to go! I also remember your early postings of life in the outter reaches of Canada. I'm glad to know you've come full circle and will be entering a clinical field that fully suits you. Looking forward to hearing more from you in the future. Your humor, wit, sarcasm, and frank observations are delightful. I look forward to every new post.

Albinoblackbear said...

Aww thanks Fordo, that is really kind of you. I know, it is crazy to think I am nearly done (8 days!) and heading back to Canada. :)

Just Me said...

Congratulations! I think that more places should create ceremony around big transitions. Somehow it brings a level of closure to such a big event. My medical school had a walk through on last day of class. Everyone gathered in the halls and the graduating class would walk trhough the halls while everyone clapped. Then everyone went to clinic etc, but it was still special.

Albinoblackbear said...

Just Me--That is SOOO cool! :) I love the sounds of the 'walk through'. Definitely a more notable finish than what we had!