The transition from our third year to fourth year was very swift. One week I was finishing my Internal Medicine rotation — the last rotation of third year — and the very next Monday I was starting Geriatrics, the first rotation of fourth year. I didn’t feel any different, though I did feel somewhat smarter than I was last year. I suppose knowing that is good enough, though I still would have liked something more visible to mark the passage of time —something like a pin or a T-shirt that reads, “I survived my third year of medical school” would have been nice. If that were on a T-shirt, I would wear it for the rest of the summer.
In the closing months of third year, I had my Pediatrics rotation. As is the custom during Pediatrics, I started the rotation on a Monday and was sick by that Thursday. But other than that, I very much enjoyed working with the patients as well as their parents. On the inpatient service, I got to see a lot of conditions that are usually only seen in children, and the medicine would have been interesting if it were not for the fact that it involved kids being sick. If it were up to me, children would never get sick and would be outdoors playing all day, not inside a hospital feeling miserable. That is mostly why I can’t see myself doing Pediatrics.
It was especially distressing working in the Pediatric Emergency Room. Kids are getting into so many accidents these days; during my week there I did a lot of suturing of lacerations on hands and feet, and saw a lot of things being removed from places they shouldn’t have been in the first place, like a twig that got stuck in a kid’s nose. I can’t remember ever getting into that much trouble when I was little; I’ve never broken a bone or anything, and I still don’t intend to. But it was great being able to work with the pediatricians, as they are one of the best when it comes to bedside manner and patient care, and are some of the most sincere people I have ever met.
My rotation in Geriatrics was a lot of fun. I spent two weeks at a rehabilitation hospital and learned so much about rehabilitation medicine, especially how the physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and nutritionists work together with the physician and nursing staff to give recovering patients the best care possible. It was very rewarding to be able to work with the patients there, as they had so much energy and were so positive and optimistic. It was great being able to watch them in therapy and see them improve day by day.
What I really liked was how the hospital focused on the emotional and social well-being of the patients in addition to just the medical and physical aspects of the rehabilitation. I was very happy to learn that they used animal therapy for the residents. While working in the main hospital, I had seen volunteers bring in therapy dogs, who brought so much joy and comfort to the patients with just their presence and companionship; that is something that no human words can ever match. At the rehabilitation hospital, they brought in miniature horses for the patients, which were amazing creatures and really showed how much the hospital cared about the emotional well-being of their patients. The patients petted the horses, took pictures and even walked around the courtyard with them. I felt very lucky to meet one up close. It made me forget about all of the important and anxiety-provoking decisions that needed to be made very soon.
Right around this time of year is the time for our class to start looking for residency programs to apply to. All of us have decided what fields we want to pursue and are now making more serious strides to accomplish our goal of matching into those specialties.
As for myself, I have decided to go into Obstetrics and Gynecology. Of all of my rotations in third year, I enjoyed Ob/Gyn the most and can honestly see myself practicing it in the future. As I mentioned before, I think that Obstetrics is a very exciting field, especially Maternal Fetal Medicine, and there is so much good medicine and biology involved in taking care of patients as they progress though their pregnancy. It is also one of the most human and humbling fields that I have seen so far because of its social and emotional aspects and the fact that pregnancy is such a life-changing thing that affects people in so many unexpected ways.
And though I can’t imagine having children of my own, I still get irrationally happy every time I see a baby being delivered and the expression on the parents’ faces as their baby is presented to them. There is something about it that I do not think will ever get old.
But there is still a lot of time left between now and the future, and still a lot of work to be done.