Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

21Oct/120

Studying

My board exam is coming up in a few weeks.  Back when I applied to medical school I never realized how much testing there was after you were accepted.  I figured that for the most part, you got into medical school, someone waved a wand, chanted some latin words, and you came out on the other end with a stethoscope.

Not true.  I've now been through 8 different national exams (MCAT, USMLE Step I, IICK, IICS, III, and 3 versions of the inservice).  Next up: the Board Certification exam.  This is the big one and determines whether or not I'm eligible to be a Fellow in the American College of Emergency Physicians.  Fancy!

So, in the meantime, it's back to studying for me... and I'm finding it oddly satisfying.  I rarely picked up a book in residency, mostly because I was so tired all the time.  Some of my classmates had strict schedules and managed to cruise through some of our major textbooks while working 80+ hours a week.  I didn't have that kind of stamina.

I'm not a very particular person, but when I study an almost autistic side of me comes out.  I need sheets of clean, white paper and ultra-fine point sharpies.  Lots of bullet points and arrows come into play.   I like to think it looks pretty artsy.

Part of the reason I enjoy this stuff is that it lets me put things into categories, especially now that I've been practicing for a while.  It takes the chaos of the ER and puts it into an orderly set of rules.  Below this level of white blood cells, these diseases become common in HIV patients.  See this phrase, start that treatment.  Cause and effect.

It also makes me realize - I'm not meant to do private practice forever.  I've been told I'm good at explaining things; I think it's because I have to organize them in my mind first before they make sense.   The real question is... when - and where - am I going to go teach?

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