There is an unending list of things I wish I had known before starting 3rd year of medical school. There are so many random tidbits I wish I had learned in more detail before I was pimped on it, so many calculations I wish I had done before I had put in an order, so many values I wish I had just memorized before I tried analyzing a lab set, etc etc etc. But the things that took me most by surprise were actually the simplest things.
The most obvious, but most unexpected thing (to me) was how physically taxing working in a hospital can be. It is astonishing how hard just standing in one spot can be. Morning rounds is when it gets particularly strenuous on the standing front. Rounds, especially on medicine or pediatrics, go on forever. Some attendings do sit down rounds (which now seems like the greatest blessing on earth), but all the attendings I’ve worked with so far do walking rounds. By the end, your neck hurts from the stethoscope hanging from your neck, your lower back hurts from trying to stand up straight, your feet hurt from the new shoes you just bought to match your work outfits, your stomach is grumbling for food.
The whole thing is truly a feat of physical prowess and endurance – and it’s not even over yet. Then you still have to run all over the hospital calling consults, finding nurses, relaying information from patients to residents and back, and so on. By the time sign-out rolls around, all you want to do is roll up into a ball and sleep for a week. But, for as horrible as I am making this all seem, it is equally amazing how quickly our bodies adapt to the new pace. Within one week I could already feel my previously neglected erector muscles strengthening and my non-existent core muscles growing. Now I can confidently say I’m standing pro – and I had no idea this would be something I am so proud to add to my list of accomplishments in life. Can I get a standing ovation, please? (pun completely intended).