Journey into medicine : [part 1]

Oh not brokers nor bookkeepers not merchants nor clerks these men are doctors their commodity is health they're calculating machines are adding and subtracting years of human life the one with the glasses is typical name Michael Kenneth Marshall Bachelor of Science and doctor of medicine he's 29 and still a student next year maybe he'll start practicing his profession Mike never dreamed he'd find his way into a statistics laboratory when he first came to New York City seven years ago it come fresh from a small College in Ohio after 16 years of academic preparation to enter the Medical School of Columbia University but he knew even then it wasn't just another school he was entering the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Upper Manhattan was in many ways a new world that he himself had chosen every day 1500 out patients receive treatment in these clinics together with the thousands of bedridden patients in the six hospitals that made up the center they were also the teaching materials needed by a modern medical school to train doctors and specialists no not just another school the students that registered along with Mike that Tuesday morning seven years ago were entering the school and a hospital a philosophy and a profession years later he would take an oath to serve humanity in the arts of healing but it was that Tuesday morning when he signed his registration card that Mike knew his heart was set maybe he was excited and nervous maybe his nonchalance was opposed nevertheless he was sure of himself as he entered medicine the white a sceptic world of Medicine it would become his world these smells these uniforms the muffled pulse of hospital excitement he would come to feel at home in these endless corridors you would learn to use his brain his hands his heart to help his fellow man that morning he would not have exchanged places with a prince for he stood on the threshold of his own castle no longer a dream Mike entered the world of Medicine the first days were hectic but happy Mike hardly paid any attention to the comforts of his room with a river view he was too intrigued by the paraphernalia he was collecting a microscope of his own books with titles that mark the boundaries of his new world anatomy physiology biochemistry to a fellow in his frame of mind even bones weren't gruesome they were part of the human body and from now on the human body was his business first he would have to know how it worked under normal circumstances that was his first subject in the physiology laboratory learning how to check and measure the mechanism of a healthy man the students were to use each other as guinea pigs normal blood pressure was one of the phenomena they examined at last Mike had a real doctors instrument in his hands even its name was something sphygmomanometer another group worked on lung expansion the air blown through the tube makes the tank rise the students were measuring the amount of air they each inhaled and then exhaled the RL thermometers were not strange but the readings were it seemed funny but no two of these perfectly healthy students had precisely the same temperature blood pressure even varied with nervous tension that's why Mike and his classmates had to learn the normal variations in health before they could expect to recognize disease yes Mike wasn't in this alone about a hundred other young hopefuls in his first year class they work together and live together the dormitory grill was a popular place those first evenings there were two chaps from California one wanted to be a general practitioner the other a psychiatrist a Texan whose patients would be Cowboys talked with a Kansas girl interested in children's diseases Lou wing had come 10,000 miles for surgery but Mike like most of his classmates wanted to look around a bit before making definite plans besides the career was a long way off the bones came first hunts a form pisiform cuneiform no memorizing names wasn't important but you had to call him something when you described their function UNT's a form pisiform it was a year before he got to disease in the pathology lab he saw the tubercle bacilli that had eroded a man's lung he studied the x-ray pictures of stomachs and intestines deformed and scarred by the effects of chronic ulcers he met disease most dramatically hall in the operating room where much later he assisted in performing laparotomies Mike was assigned to a place right next to the experienced surgeon to learn by doing is the best method but not possible when the subject is life and death medical students must learn by helping instead now he was part of a disciplined smooth working team the room is hot the gases smell instruments must be passed on time but hands must be steady now let go now retract her pass the swab hold it firm get those veins pass the swab now nurse now doctor but it wasn't all work they were fine tennis courts at the school and time for relaxation to and friends but somehow the talk always got around to medicine the subject really on Mike's mind naturally he selected companions who were interested in his bright new world and by the third year he was really part of it most of his days were spent in the hospital wards learning by helping blood is a great indicator of what is going on in the human-machine the few cubic centimeters he would now take for analysis might solve the riddle of this man's fainting spells but Mike was also learning how to get along with patients they're just people of course but sick people feel sorry for themselves naturally and so they're apt to be nervous and grouchy you have to kid them a bit and give them the confidence you may not have yourself if the patient guesses that this is your first time at a job he may imagine pain he doesn't even feel so you hide your own twinges of fear and doubt and go ahead with the job the student nurse may know more about this than you do but that's alright she's on your side both of you are there to help the patient and meanwhile you're perfecting your technique a doctor must be gentle and kind without being soft keep your mind on your job that's it we're doing fine all of us we've got the blood ready to yield its information diplomacy kindness technical skill they're all part of your professional equipment without them printed facts and theories can't make you a physician medicine is still an art even though it is based on science the rest of the analysis was easy by now Mike was at home in a clinical pathology lab he and the other medical students handled pipettes and counting chambers as naturally as they used a knife and fork

1 comment

  1. wow. this first section basically summed up the past 5 years I've experienced as a medical student, from my first days of studying physiology to my experience working in a hospital.

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