Tuesday, 5 June 2012


After moments of analyzing my routine activities in internal medicine rotations, I have come to a conclusive pattern that briefly describes my view of what happens. Imagine someone suffering from chronic constipation, so bad that he spends a week without ever having to flush a toilet. Then he has nightmares on Sundays about how his week is going to start all because Monday morning is going to be literally crappy: I’m talking excruciating, rectum-wrenching crappy. That, my friends is what my internal medicine rotation has been like so far. That should explain my use of the word ‘annals’ whose homophone, ‘anals’, is (appropriately) the plural of anus. Moving on…

So last Monday my colleagues and I make it to the ward early in the morning, just in time to (very uncomfortably) ‘void’ our ‘constipated bowels.’ Half-way into the session, while doing our best, the consultant responsible for overseeing the entire process gets so pissed off that he walks out on us. From his side of the view, we totally lacked initiative hence he felt had wasted his precious time coming to teach us. From my side, things looked way different.

For starters, me thinks that raising enough money to pay school fees and showing up for classes and ward rounds on time counts for at least 30% initiative. Complement that with risking your health while in the wards clerking patients, reading volumes of jargon for your examinations and being daring enough to stand and talk to people who salivate at any opportunity to demean you and you have 90% initiative. The 10% on top technically makes you a nerdy medical zombie. Back to the Monday saga, I think his demeanor was uncalled for. Maybe our dear consultant was just having a bad day: I suppose it was that time of the… I’ll shut up now.

In retrospect, it appears that internal medicine is an entirely different faction of medicine altogether. For starters, while surgeons walk around tall, canoodling their even taller egos, the ‘shorter’ physicians prefer to consistently rub in the fact that they really use their brains. That brings me to lesson number one of Internal Medicine: Forget all you learnt in surgery, and (preferably) put your thinking caps on. If you don’t have one, please borrow.

Second lesson I have learnt since I started rotating there is that your sole duty as a medic is to make your consultant happy. When he shows you how to do something, DO NOT let your creativity get the better of you. Mind you, I hold the opinion that creativity is for surgeons- refer to lesson number one. Learn to repeat what they say, verbatim. When they yell jump, hell; find your way to Pluto if you have to. That is the only way you will have a smooth ride in the wards.

Third lesson: this, in reference to the answering of questions. When in doubt, mumble. When standing close to a person who is in doubt and you think you know the right answer (and you are daring enough), mumble the wrong thing and try not to laugh while you are at it (yeah, I said it). It should help the one in the line of fire to think in the opposite direction faster (ideally). This is if they have sufficient info. Otherwise, they may repeat the bull you just whispered leaving them to take one (or more) for the team, and you are officially branded 'mean'. This brings me to lesson number four.

Your ego can take much more than you think, unless of course you are an Emo. If, for whatever reason, you go against lesson number two, brace your ego (and your nuts too, if you have them) for a good bashing. The consultants can and will come at you with an arsenal of insults, from something equivalent to a slap from an army sergeant, to a Scud missile. Protect your ego with your all. Otherwise, you can picture yourself rushing your emaciated and now traumatized ego to the casualty after it has suffered severe embarrassment. 

Lastly, lesson number five: it’s never that serious. After all is said and done, bottom line is that you are there to learn. It is said that sarcasm is a good teaching tool and that it actually reinforces memory. How true that is, I do not know. Bashing or no bashing however, do your best and try and take it all in your stride. After all, what's the worst that can happen? 

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  1. I don't envy you one bit!!!...Hahaha!...but hey, if not for their telemundo drama, where would all the fun bits come from%-)...me likes alott!

    1. I wouldn't envy me either.. LOL! I ain't complaining there.. they are bits of my adventurous journey through life.

  2. Whew! I think being a member of any medical related group is such a blessing. And your post is really interesting. How about me? Talk about ego and emo packed into one personality. Haha. Anyway, it is great to read a good stuff like this.

  3. That’s a pretty graphic analogy! Oh yes, IM has more drama than most people assume. But, you’re right. In the end, it’s all about learning. Your consultant may be downright mean to you, but it’s mainly because he wants you to be the best practitioner that you can be. Thank you for sharing your insights, Enigma!


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