USMLE Step 1

So I know it’s been a while. I would apologize but I have unfortunate feeling that as one grows older, it becomes more difficult to document one’s thoughts as one goes along. I’ve reread my angst-filled posts from my first year of medical school and it’s interesting to see how far I’ve come. I am surprised by poignant and fraught with moral conflict my posts have been… even just a few years ago. I think I have those thoughts a lot less… In fact, I think I do a lot less thinking now a days. I finished my second year and I’m in the process of preparing for Step I. I no longer feel any thoughts of the profession in general. Perhaps it’s harder for me to generalize now that I understand that there are greater nuisances in the profession than I previously thought. Maybe it’s because I am far enough into medical school that I know I only have to endure a bit more. Or maybe I’ve just stopped caring. I read the rhetoric about wanting to help people and it being an ends to self-fulfillment and I’m not sure if I still agree with that. I think much less about what my purpose on this earth is and more about when I’m going to finally earn enough money to provide for myself and my parents. I think more about when I’m going to meet someone compatible enough for me to settle for. I think about where I’ll live after I’m done with medical school. This change… it’s good in that I don’t dwell on the guilt, the anger or the passion that I used to feel morally. It’s bad in that I don’t care like I used to and I am very satisfied coasting through this life. Memorizing things in medical school is milking me for every ounce of energy I have, and so much so that I have nothing left in the tank to do any self-reflection or exploration. It seems from talking to others that perhaps this isn’t unique to medicine. It seems that any demanding job asks for the same. That’s why maybe the anger I have held against the profession is perhaps misguided and should really be directed towards becoming a “grown-up” who is doing anything 70+ hours a week.

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Fall Semester

Life in Vandy so far has been great.

Everytime I start writing on the blog, I realize that my posts might actually effect my current interactions. To avoid that, I haven’t talked too much about what has been going on.

I do, however, think it’s a good habit to journal so I’m continuing to do so but privately. That is why this blog has been suffering of late. I’ll be updating with snippets publicly from time to time though.

Another unfortunate development is that my philosophical readings and ruminations have been rushed and muddled as of late and so I cannot write with the standard of clarity that I would like. I’ve been fairly busy with classes and such but what has really taken over my life this year has been Best Buddies. I’ve been working very  hard to achieve the mission of Best Buddies of  spreading awareness of the capabilities of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and creating meaningful friendships between them and college students. It’s led me to meet all sorts of people and to go to all sorts of places. From going to Indianapolis with Jacob (My buddy from the Best Buddies program), to eating at Logan’s Roadhouse(where they encourage throwing peanut shells on the ground!), and to speaking in front of the Nashville Predators Foundation.

Random incident: I opened the door to walk into the bathroom in the biological science building this morning. Unfortunately, it was the woman’s bathroom. A woman stared back at me surprised.

I need caffeine.


September 27th, 2010

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Medical School

I’m bringing back this blog because I have to get this off my chest.

I started medical school a few weeks ago and I have been getting an unsettling feeling that this is a career that is not for me.

I am absolutely miserable. It is not that the material is too dense or that I am not getting enough sleep or that I do not have enough free time. It is the unsettling feeling that I do not want what I am working towards.

Only in medical school have I begun hearing what life is REALLY like for medical students, residents, and attendings. Only now am I understanding the commitment that I am making with medical school. Only now am I understanding that medicine is a LOT about science and dealing with egomaniacs and very little about patients. People around me LOVE science and love learning much more than I do. They are inspired and motivated by it much more than I am.

I hate science. I like the idea of research and exploration but I hate that in order to get there, I have to spend half my life getting information shoved down my throat.

I feel TOO introspective and value my time of self-reflection too much to feel like I belong here. The lifestyle of a medical student, resident and eventually a physician, is not conducive for reflection. This is problematic for me.

I am doing what I can, however, to keep open-minded. It is presumptive to think I’m the only self-reflecting person to ever go through this process. There may be something for me after medical school… but I have to find out what that is if I want to remain motivated to finish.

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I’ve been reflecting over what’s happened this week and it got me thinking about my career plans. I’ve been having second thoughts about becoming a doctor.

I don’t think I can be happy as a doctor.

My motivation to become a doctor comes from whom I strive to be as a human being. I want to be a person who constantly reflects on and strives towards the “good” and away from the “bad”. I am constantly thinking about and depressed about the terrible things that humans do to each other. I hear stories about the youth in Argentina who somehow been inculcated to find acceptable robbing, assaulting and murdering or read about the ruthless violence of Christopher “Dudus” Coke and the Shower Posse and I cannot help but to feel absolutely infuriated by what is going on.

This anger that I have towards the unfairness of our world is why I want to become a doctor. I want the power to stop terrible things from happening. But I’m sitting here at my laptop… fucking powerless to do anything. I realized how stupid I was to think that my Spanish is good enough to comfort a patient. I’m realizing now how stupid it is to think that as a doctor I’ll be able to stop any of the terrible things in our world from happening.

As a doctor, I’ll just be another member of the status quo that has no power on the social, economical or political aspect of society. I just want to be a doctor because I’ll feel like I’m part of the solution. “Look at me… I’m healing people!” Patients will shower me with gratitude and no one can argue that I’m not doing something for society.

But am I fixing anything?

No. But this isn’t just a problem of being a doctor. Odds are that as a businessman, lawyer or politician, my work will never really amount to anything life changing. I can’t come to terms that no matter how I live my life, I’m going to end up being insignificant. Life is a river of anguish, terror, sorrow and pain that flows from an ocean of greed, narcissism and desire. No matter how virtuous I live my life or how many people I end up saving… they are going to get better and screw up society anyway.

But this isn’t the part that’s making me rethink medicine because, like I said before, this is a problem that transcends my career choice in medicine. The realization is that it will be my daily task will be to clean up the mess that this fucked up world shits out: wounded teenagers as a result of gang violence, obese diabetic patients as a result of the rampant corporate greed, and substance abusers who have overdosed because they have come to the same realization that I have. I will have a job that exposes me to the consequences of our vile world and be frustrated daily that I can’t do anything about it.

In addition, the only reason why I would have been a good doctor is because I care. I care about the workers who are trying to work it paycheck-to-paycheck for their family but end up in the hospital because their employer didn’t follow guidelines.

But even when I do everything in my power, things will go wrong. Fuck, I’m not going to be able to handle that. I get pissed at myself when there’s traffic and I’m late for an appointment… How am I going to deal with the guilt of the death of a patient? But one may say, “Don’t go into emergency medicine if you can’t handle death”. But I find that career similar to being a social worker or community organizer because they may be critical to our society but don’t have the immediate gratification that being a doctor will provide.

Written July 9th, 2010

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A Stanley Fish quote sheds light on the Muslim Community Center

An eloquent quote about how domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh are viewed differently from a Muslim terrorists:

“If the bad act is committed by a member of a group you wish to demonize, attribute it to a community or a religion and not to the individual. But if the bad act is committed by someone whose profile, interests, and agendas are uncomfortably close to your own, detach the malefactor from everything that is going on… and characterize him as a one-off, nongeneralizable, sui generis phenomenon”

I think this is particularly relevant in the debate over the Muslim community center near the World Trade Centers. It seems that this controversy is rooted in a deeper underlying fear of Islam. For many Americans, the fear of terrorists has somehow become a fear of Islam. Talking heads proclaim that Islam is inherently a more violent, extremist and radical religion. They need only to point to the instability and violence in the Middle East to support their claims. Additionally, they point to the passages of the Koran that “prove” that Islam is an extreme and intolerant religion.

The above dialogue confounds Muslims with Muslims extremists. Why should a moderate Muslim group not be allowed to build a community center (not a mosque) a few blocks away from the World Trade Centers? What do they have to do with the terrorist attacks? Let us not fall prey to the same psychological ingroup/outgroup mentality that has caused atrocities over and over in the course of human history. As a 21st century society, we should be enlightened enough not to hold the religion responsible for the actions of individuals.

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A Million Things

There’s a MILLION things I want to blog about (haven’t even finished writing about my Argentine experience yet!) but I just can’t find the time. So perhaps just recapping what I’ve been up to will suffice.

After coming back from Argentina I’ve mostly been preparing for my MCATs. Crossfitting for about a week before hurting my neck doing overhead squats. Rested the following week. This weekend I went to the Best Buddies Leadership Conference with Jacob Webne (my buddy!) and we had a wonderful time. Although I’d like to eventually write more about it, he overcame two of his greatest fears (singing and being on stage) to sing “You belong with me” on the karaoke party in front of 300+ people! Afterwards, he was in tears and could not stop talking about it. The speakers at the conference were powerful and the seminars were useful for the most part. I’m really excited to share the enriching learning experience that Best Buddies has given me to other students and to see the growth and development of the buddies in the upcoming year.

Now that I’m back, with the exception of a little Best Buddies coordinating here and there, it’s all MCAT from here. I’ve got my gameday playlist ready, practicing my pregame rituals and Kenny agreed to drive me and motivate me on the way there. I need to work hard these two weeks because I’ve got RA training the week before my MCATs. I really just want to get this out of the way so I can go back to doing things I love.

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A Rebuttal to my Last Post

A worthy rebuttal (followed by a lively debate) to my last post:

Dapple Dawn Drawn will be significantly less active in the coming weeks as I will be preparing for the August 24th MCAT.

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