Friday, March 23, 2007


On my very first day of medical school, we were introduced to "the Deans." There is a Dean for EVERYTHING here. Multiculturalism, professionalism, student affairs, academic research, you name it. One of the Deans scared the hell out of me. His speech was, "Congratulations. You are in medical school now. You are privileged enough to enter the grandest profession BLAH BLAH BLAH." It was a lovely speech, and seemed like harmless cheering up of the incoming students, when at the end he said, "Oh by the way. Don't expect to make it to your kid brother's 16th birthday. And get used to it. When you're a doctor you'll miss your own kid's birthday." I was not having it. I vowed then and there I would never put work above the people I loved, and I made it a point to try and be around for my family member's birthdays as much as possible. Turns out, in my family, nobody really celebrates birthdays, because, as my dad says, "YOU'RE JUST ONE YEAR CLOSER TO THE AGE YOU DIE." Happy Birthday! (And what an insightful look into my father's psyche!) So that didn't really matter much. But, there are some things I am actually pretty depressed to have to give up. Ok, these all might seem dumb, but keep in mind, I am FEMALE, and these things are kind of important to me.

1) Attractive footwear. I love shoes so, so much. Shopping for shoes might be my #1 all-time favorite activity. I own over 50 pairs of shoes and love them all dearly. Once I started wards though, my days of wearing attractive footwear were over. I tried for the first week of keeping the dream alive and wearing my pointy-toed stilettos each day but it just didn't work. When your day starts at 5:30 am and doesn't end until 7 pm and you're on your feet for 80% of that time, it's just impossible. My feet would cry when I took my shoes off at night. Nice shoes are of the utmost importance to me, but I realized that no human being can be on her feet that long without them getting a little swollen (YES. Even at the age of 24.) no matter how supportive your stockings are, and it is not worth the pain. I'm all about the ballet flats now, but it's just not the same as having a sassy little heel. I like to wear my pant legs really long, and they sort of drag all over the floor. [Of the HOSPITAL. Where there is DISEASE and INFECTION and BLOOD and PUS. It's so gross.] Also, I realized right away, when I wear heels, I just way too tall for the hospital. What I mean by that is, I'm 5'9" barefoot. When I put on heels, even plain old 2" kitten heels, I tower at 5'11". Bending over patient's beds all day to talk to them and examine them KILLED my back when I was wearing heel. Something about your center of balance is all off when you're sporting the heels when your spine is in flexion and it puts too much strain on your paraspinous muscles.

Also, ladies in medical school (or think they want to attend medical school), you understand that you may NEVER wear open-toed shoes in any location where healthcare is provided in any form, right? It sounds dumb, but to realize that you can never wear anything but full coverage on your feet at the hospital (where you spend 80% of your waking time) was a little sad.

2. Fingernails. Once you enter medicine, your nails have to be clipped supershort at all times. To do otherwise would be really inconsiderate of your patients and unprofessional. Also, you can't wear anything but the most nude or neutral nail polish. I love me some black-red nail polish but I've had to throw out all my bottles of nail polish because they just got old and gunky from neglect.

3. Cute flippy hair styles. I just got a haircut and am now rocking some bangs and some shaggy layers, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE! I did this purposefully a few months before starting residency though, so that it would have time to grow out to a more "professional and practical" length before I hit the wards again. I love this hair but if it's always in my face or can't be pulled back into a fast ponytail with a rubberband it's too impractical for a surgical subspecialty. Plus you run the risk of some old dinosaur attending telling you you look "too damn hippy to be a doctor."

And of course, other sacrifices include, erm, free time, relationships with people not in medicine because we've become boring, consumed by our careers, and run out of things to talk about, quality time with family/friends, and being able to legally claim financial hardship on your taxes as a resident! So fun. Eiighhh..I'm obsessing about residency, can ya'll tell? Rather than obsess about OH GOD I AM IN CHARGE OF PEOPLE'S LIVES AND IT IS NOT FUNNY THIS TIME I am lamenting the fact that I can't do my nails, have bangs, and wear high-heels to work. Is this normal? There is definitely something wrong with me. I am displaying some sort of psychiatric defense mechanism to the anxiety I'm having about starting residency, but I CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER WHAT THE NAME OF IT IS. Omigod I can't believe they're going to graduate me.


Ennis said...

You just need to start buying combat boots. Once you have 50 pairs, you'll be excited about them too ;)

Or maybe not.

labelladoctora said...

I am SO there with you !! I will be spending the rest of my career in scrubs and dansko clogs...granted, I have the cute patent leather ones in black and red, but still...just not the same as a sexy shoe....glad to know that someone besides me is worried about being discovered as a fraud who somehow managed to fool the system into believing that I am sufficiently competent to bear the title " M.D. "...God help the people this July.....Congratulations on your match !

punchberry said...

I never learned to walk in heels, so when I was all businessy-like, I always felt underdressed for everything. So when I got to med school and realized that in my new career, nobody will notice my heel-wearing skill deficit, I was psyched. Bringing people down to the lowest common shoe denominator (aka me), that's what I am all about. I love Mary Janes and I collect them, and will continue to do so. Mwah hah hah. Also, I am scared of manicures. You know, because of DISEASE, and also because, I get a crack in the polish and then I can't stop staring at it and have to take the whole thing off. Nail polish is for toes.

This was a great entry! You will do great in residency, and I am really looking forward to whatever crazy and tangential subjects you will choose to write about.

confused, single and brown said...

lol, cute! buy some kitten heels, they're much smaller but still very trendy.

its nice to see that med students/doctors are human too! :)

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