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Jun 19, 2009

And So It Begins

Part 1: Crash and Burn

We officially started on Tuesday. There was a little session on Saturday and orientation on Monday, but I’m going to call Tuesday the beginning of my 3rd year. It started with ACLS training, which is short for Advanced Cardiothoracic Life Support. Basically, it’s CPR with drugs and a bunch of rescuers and paddles for shocks. Anyway, they tack this training on to the beginning of the Peds rotation, so that’s how I began.

Tuesday started out rough. I left the house late, staying too long to say good morning to Colin. Then I got lost, both in the parking labirynth and getting from my car to the room. In fact, upon studying a map later, I went THREE BLOCKS out of the way that morning. And I was late to begin with. Then, I got to the room where everyone was turning in the homework we’d had for this class. Guess who did the wrong one? That would be me. However, I did do something and had it there to turn in, which I felt was sufficient for a certification class. Unfortunately the woman who was running the course felt otherwise and proceeded to call me out on my error in front of everyone.

“This is not the proper assignment,” she says loud enough so that her voice carries to the back.

“I’m sorry. I’m not sure what happened.”

“I don’t know what you expect me to do with this. This is not the right one. You didn’t do the right assignment.” Really, does she have to yell?

“Again, I’m sorry. I can re-do it.”

“But it was due TODAY.” Her voice is echoing in the hall now. “You’re technically NOT ELIGIBLE to take this class.”

“I’m sorry. How can I fix it?”

SIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH. “Well, let’s just see how you do in the class. Then we’ll decide.” She looks me up and down, clearly not optimistic about my chances of excelling.
We watched a series of videos, which included actors feigning heart attacks or strokes. Midway through, the instructor stops the videos in order to pimp the class.

NOTE: “Pimping” is a slang term used by medical people to describe the process of an older, more senior person quizzing the more junior members of the team. It is generally meant to imply a demeaning and condescending tone from the perspective of the more senior person, and can be a deeply humiliating experience, generally feared by all.

“The girl who didn’t do the right homework! Please stand up and answer these questions.”

I almost threw up. That may have been a better choice, actually, than the answers that I chose to give. They were wrong. All three of them.

“No. That is incorrect.”


“No, that is not correct. Someone help this person.”

Good way to make a first impression, no?

The next activity we did was to splint into pairs in order to refresh our basic CPR skills. Pairs.

There was an odd number of us.

Guess who was the odd one out.

That would be me.

At the break, I called Patrick, who was home that day. I wasn’t quite in tears, but he could tell that I was not having a great morning. I think the big tip off was when I suggested that I be a stay-at-home-mom instead of coming back after the break. He gave me the requisite pep talk, I tried to perk up, and went back in.

Part 2: Recovery

The next day, Wednesday, was a day of examinations over the material and skills we were to have mastered on Tuesday. I was terrified. The last exam I had taken was Step 1 of the USMLE. (Remember all of that?) and had done nothing of the sort since. They kept telling us how hardly anyone ever failed. Patrick was saying the same: it was easy and really should be no problem. There is no quicker way to stress me out than to tell me that the task I am about to attempt has been easily completed by countless others before me.

Before our exams, though, we were to attend a lecture on the newborn exam. I broke out my new, gleaming, blinding white coat and left my house a little earlier. And who is the one giving the lecture? My old, close friend, J. She smiled at me, led me to right answers, and, afterwards, told me that she was always terrified of these certification courses, even though she’s done them a zillion times.

It was just what I needed.

I studied over lunch, then went to the testing center, a grungy basement where dummies without arms or legs wait on the floor. Through the arrogance mustered in the face of an exam, it was easy to see that everyone was nervous and didn’t want to be the ONE. Nervousness inspires chattiness, so I spontaneously met four people simply due to nerves.

Then I rocked all my exams.

Later, J and her family came over for an impromptu dinner and playdate. We talked about meeting people, starting new things, and strategies. It is important to have friends and allies, but it also important to focus on your work, get it done, and go home. Finding the balance, and not being caught in the details of being totally successful right away, is an ongoing project. Nevertheless, I made some friends, passed my exams, and am on my way.

3 Readers rock!:

Long Family Chronicles said...

Oh Katie... I can't even imagine! I think I would have been sobbing to Nate!! Way to rock those exams!!

izzy said...

Just to say hello and how much I enjoy your blog! I found it from Xavier-Emmanuelle's blog and love reading about your move, Colin and med school. I'm always in awe of Mums' who combine med school and motherhood-it takes me all my time just to get myself organised to get to uni/hospital each day, let alone with a little one to sort out too!

Hope 3 rd year goes from strength to strength!


XE said...

Oh Katie, that first day sounds truly awful. Glad things are going better now! Can't wait to hear about more of your adventures.