On Medical Memoirs and Online Internship

I have become fond of medical memoirs lately. One thing I noticed though, is that, these stories are not about what happened during medical school but about real-life experiences in the clinical setting at the hospital. These doctors were able to tell these stories because there was one patient whom they touched and who changed their lives forever. These stories are because they had bloopers and “sabaw” moments when they were assisting in the operating room. It was because of toxic family members and patient’s relatives they had to deal with. It was because of things non-tangible and matters not found in any textbook that these stories were published. These doctors learned lessons that experience alone can teach. These are stories that look beyond the patient being a patient and the physician being the healer. These stories make the common denominator of them being human.

I am off the stage of denial but I still cannot seem to move on the stage of acceptance. It has been 4 months already since we began out clerkship (junior internship) online. It still frustrates me to think I (might) not be able to tell these kind of stories someday. Because to be honest, the only story I have right now is how slow my internet connection is and how anxious that makes me every second. The notification sounds on my gadgets has traumatized me already. Being on an online internship, all I care about is myself. How to survive the day, how to comply with my requirement, how not to be late, how to be always alert for any “messages” that may come any time of the day. It was all centered on me.

Reading through these memoirs, I realized how different it would have been if we were in an actual hospital setting today. I am sure that all my petty problems would fade away in light of what actual patients are going through.

But such is not the case.

I am (still) frustrated to my core. But these things are beyond our control. Life goes on. Learning continues. We’re equipped with theoretical knowledge but may not be skilled enough with the clinical application but still we are doing our best.

Two or three years from now, there will be a whole new generation of doctors who were all trained online (we are now trying to accept the possibility of us graduating and having our post-graduate internship still online). Don’t sue us when we miss inserting your IV at first try. We were not able to practice that on Zoom. But at least we know the correct bore size to use. Lols.

This situation right now is surely not any of us ever wanted. I just hope the pandemic will be over soon. And maybe there are more silver linings to this than what I can see.

P.S. The medical memoir I am currently reading is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ The Wheel of Life. I am planning to write a post about book recommendations for medical students (I hope I can do that sooner) so I can share all the memoirs that I loved.

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