Tuesday, July 01, 2008

they always said that you knew best, but

I ought to be in bed, but it seems like I'm regressing to that adolescent stage of wanting to do whatever it is I ought not to be doing. As in everything, I like neither extreme. I've realized I cannot deal with the absence of structure. I need some form, some outline, some excuse to get up every morning and look presentable. In other words, I could not be engaged in an effort that amounted to: 'here is some lab space, party on, and let me know when you're ready to present your thesis.' On the other hand, and of course with me there is always an other hand, I also cannot deal with too much structure. I need some wiggle room, some ability to draw outside the lines.

This is somewhat incompatible with medical school, but not completely. A friend I've previously mentioned who is rather antagonistic about my decision to go to med school brings rather true criticisms of it-- it's mindless, in the sense that, once you're in, you are set on a path, and you can proceed through it like one of the zombies on Shaun of the Dead (and yes, I'm choosing the spoof movie-zombies, because you seriously can't take med students seriously enough to be afraid of them in the 28 Days Later vein). You don't have to figure out how to become a dermatologist. For the low low price of a bajillion dollars in loans, an advisor will tell you that you need to get XXX Step 1 scores, have published in a scientific journal of merit, have taken on a major extracurricular activity, and perhaps gone on a medical mission in Guatemala.

So all of this is true, and if you wanted to, really, you could sleepwalk your way through an entirety of medical education, training and specialization. However, my dislike for following the straight and narrow, well-trodden path in some ways gets me off the hook from all that. I may not know exactly what I want to do with my future, but I know that whatever it is will not require that I do a number of things simply as a jumping-through-hoops exercise to demonstrate that I fit some perfect mold. If anyone is looking for the perfect little medical student that can be shaped into their image, then they are obviously not looking for me anyway.

What is nice about this is that I can appreciate the format of school- it is a good way to keep me going, to get me to amass the information I want into my head. But I can also appreciate that I don't have to follow every piece of advice, that I don't have to join the rat race. At clinic today, two 'perfect little students' were anxiously writing their note into the file, fretting over every last word, asking for a hand to hold through the whole thing. I stood beside them and just wrote, just wrote what I felt was appropriate and what seemed like common sense. When our notes were reviewed, they all got a fairly similar response: 'Good job, try X next time.'

And it just demonstrated what I already had felt when I was last taken to task for engaging in this pursuit. I get the structure that I want, the structure that is beneficial to learning what I want, but I have enough sense to know that I have choices within that structure. There are so many choices, so much room in these tracks that have been set down- it's just that not everyone can see them.

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