“What are you doing?” the nurse said.
“I’m learning how to scrub in,” I replied.
“What year are you?”
“You should already know that by now,” she said matter-of-factly.
Ah, the woe of a second year medical student. With increasing knowledge comes increasing responsibility and expectations. There isn’t the option of hiding behind the excuse of not knowing anything anymore – my professors, fellow clinicians, and family now assume a certain level of medical aptitude. And that expectation can be incredibly daunting.
After being hounded by the nurse, I sheepishly finished my awkward hand-soap-interpretive dance. Luckily, the 4th year medical student who was teaching me, Becky, had reassuring words. “Don’t worry, I didn’t learn until 3rd year,” she said. She then led me into the OR, where I fumbled with the gloves and gown that the scrub tech put me in. I then stood there, looking very out-of-place as nurses and doctors bustled around me, prepping for the laparoscopic appendectomy procedure. Where do I put my hands?
It didn’t turn out all that bad in the end – Becky and the other doctors talked me through the fascinating procedure, and in the end I even got to put a stitch into one of the wounds (albeit very slowly, and with many instructions). But it just surprised me how challenged I was by tasks that others made look so effortless. It’ll take some time, but hopefully I’ll get all this surgery business figured out – especially before I become a third year.