Five months into a pessimist’s third year

[Excerpts from my personal journal, 5 months apart]

Rotation order: Medicine, Surgery, Peds, OB-Gyn, Flex

Tuesday 5/6/2014 – First week on medicine

Things that went not so well: I am not as charismatic as I can be when I am in a new environment. And around my co-student I feel inadequate.

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Training is tough

Hot Lights, Cold Steel by Michael Collins, MD is a memoir of an orthopedist’s residency training at the Mayo Clinic in the 70s.

I’ve heard this book praised for offering an insightful look at the toughness of residency. I won’t be one of the book’s proponents. Many parts I found trite, drawn out, or melodramatic. After just reading Forgive and Remember, I took a while to get used to reading a memoir type work in which details are embellished just for the sake of story-telling (necessary because the manuscript is written years after the events occurred). Whatever one fills in seems to me fluff, written purely for the entertainment value. He recalls plenty of witty banter between him and his wife or fellow residents. He digresses at times into imaginary scenes in which his nightmare scenarios play out.

I didn’t care for it.

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Writers in medicine (or doctors in writing)

At my UChicago interview, I was asked about my one school award in writing (an essay from freshman year on illicit stimulant use). My interviewer asked me what I was going to do, going forward, to exploit my talents (he was flattering me; I don’t think I have any skill or patience for serious writing). Stupidly, I said I didn’t have any such plans; writing’s not much of a hobby of mine. He seemed disappointed. I tried to recover by saying how writing skills will help me as a doctor and/or scientific investigator. Result: not accepted. Heh.

But here I am, writing a blog post! I’m starting to entertain the possibility of writing more, mostly just to keep my verbal abilities from stiffing up like my high school debate skills did (T likes to say my speeches nowadays are too ejaculatory [see definition 1]). I don’t like writing for school normally because it takes forever for me to come by a good idea and find the best words to articulate it. For a blog, however, the pressure’s off.

After the jump/break, I look at the paths of three well-known contemporary authors who have clinical training and their thoughts on writing. As one NYTimes article put it, a “breed of physicians who also have literary DNA in their genome” appears to be “rapidly multiplying these days.” Several of them wrote books that T read over the summer and reviewed in a previous post.

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