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I have to confront the realities of my chosen M.D./Ph.D. career path. After an extended medical school career, do I want to add a five- to seven-year residency training period? Can I maintain surgical competency while also pursuing anthropology? Will a life in social science work better with the flexibility of shift-work (as I would have in emergency medicine or anesthesia) or with a more rigid OR/clinic/on-call schedule? What specialty will mesh best with my social research interests? Does it matter or will I just make it work?
From the hospital wards to the ivory tower, I consider myself lucky to be in such rarefied places and privileged worlds that most people don’t see. And then I also feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of pages of weekly reading or the towering responsibility of my own fieldwork (which I have yet to nail down to a topic or a location). In moving from medicine to Anthropology, I stepped off the well-trodden path of clinical training into the wilds of academia. But I find solace in the incredible scholars I get to read, the stimulating lectures I get to attend, and the many cups of coffee that get me through.
Hi, Mom. Hi, ether. On my first clinical rotation, I did step into a whole new world. And while I’m back to real life, I definitely brought a little part of the wards back with me. But I also left a little part of my former self there, too. For better or worse, these past few months have been some of the most intense (and the most rewarding) of my life. I wish I could write one blog entry that could capture how much I’ve learned or what I saw, but that would be impossible. Instead, I’d like to share a few reflections on, and a peek into, the very privileged world of hospital medicine.
Yes, getting the basic science in is important. But (some of) the most valuable skills I gained from my college education included learning how to think, write, and critically engage equally with texts and the world outside of the college gates. And BOTH biology and anthropology taught me these. Inside the lab—a place all pre-meds will face at some point or another—I took part in curiosity, scientific inquiry, and how ‘facts’ about the world around us are made.
From the SATs to the MCAT and the Boards exams, I’ve been a career student. Tests have become a way of life, in a way. (Is that sad?) From multiple-choice to essay to true/false to oral exams, tests have been the predictable pacemakers of my career from high school through college, from college to medical school and graduate school.
I have only one more test left in med school! Well, I should qualify that: it’s the last test of my pre-clinical years. (The first two years are called pre-clinical because we don’t see much of the clinical side, because we don’t really know too much.) So, for two years we sit mostly in lectures, labs, small groups, and the library, learning the basics of human biology and illness. The cycle is predictable: three weeks of cramming, test, repeat. In our last block Life Cycle (our curriculum is organized by topic or organ system), we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
School let out a week ago, but my life is still quite busy. Especially with singing in the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. We have numerous holiday concerts in Oakland, the South Bay, even the San Francisco Jail. To keep up the momentum and energy, before every concert we ‘circle up.’ This means that the entire choir—all 50-60 of us—in our teal, purple and gold robes joins hands in a circle while our director leads us a pre-show pep-talk-like prayer. Any member who’s going through rough times—cancer, ...
I know in my last post I expounded following one’s own interests, without any particular roadmap. This approach definitely has its positives. But sometimes confusion and uncertainty appear, and choices can be difficult to make. Solution? Mentors as my guideposts: While I may not be sure what might lay ahead, for the immediate future, they have helped me to know that at least I was in the right place.Times have changed. And so have the kinds of advice and guidance that young people need. ...
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