Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thoughts (Later October-ish)

I think the human body is amazing. It is utterly complicated, yet filled with elegant patterns. It’s inspiring. I think it’s because it’s so immediate. The concepts are so instantly relevant. Where does my Sartorius attach? Where does the cleaned blood from my liver meet up with the inferior vena cava? What happens to the triglycerides I ate at lunch? Unlike a lot of my classmates who are so eager for the “clinical correlations” (aka what can go wrong with this part of the body), I’m eager to understand how it goes right. It really does seem like a miracle that eating top ramen doesn’t completely throw off my sodium/potassium balance, that drinking toxins (alcohol) doesn’t poison me and don’t even get me started on how in the world a baby comes to be and be born. Points for creativity there, but whoa. Not exactly run of the mill.

It’s intoxicating. The wonder of it all. I like to glory in the wonder. I imagine next year, which is devoted to pathophysiology (what goes wrong) might leave me a depressed, hypochondriac mess, but for now, I’m soaring.

The only interruptions to my ecstatic happiness are the occasional exam and the beginnings of clinical instruction. As they say over and over, “During your career, most of what you learn in medical school will become obsolete, but anatomy never changes.” So, the material stands alone. It is the obturator internus. Lining the inside of the obturator foramen, pierced by the obturator nerve. That’s just what it is.

But, what about teaching us to interact with patients? The same approach is taken and I find it a little offensive. There is a way. A professional, best practice, code of conduct way to interact with patients. But, patients aren’t body parts. They’re people. “Yes, of course. That’s why we’re teaching you Human Behavior in Medicine. We’ll cover the typical personality types, methods for handling them and ‘anomalies’ you might encounter.” Really? I’m already impressed and upset that you can teach me the entire anatomy of the human body in sixteen weeks. But, now you’re going to logically and coherently explain to me human behavior!?

I don’t buy it. I understand that there’s a level of professional distance that must be developed and maintained to function as a physician. But, my humanity must be tempered so I can do my profession?

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