Between figuring out my new life at school and keeping up with the amazing opportunities that being a medical student affords, I haven’t had much time to reflect and write about the events of my life. Part of me wishes I could go back and chronicle the past year of my life as a medical student, but I just can’t bring myself to sacrifice the time I know that would require. Suffice it to say that it has been fascinating, exciting, exhausting, and repeatedly humbling. I’ve given more than I thought I had in me and been shown that sometimes even that is not enough. I’ve touched the lives of people around me with simple gestures. I can only hope that the people I connect with get as much out of it as I do. You spend years of your life sacrificing and working to get into medical school, but nothing can possibly prepare you for actual experience. If I had to sum up my first year in a bit of advice it would be, “Brace for impact.” Be ready to accept the challenges. Work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Seize every opportunity, whether you think you have time or energy for it. There are so many things that are available only to medical students, don’t get so caught up that you miss out on these opportunities. But don’t lose your balance. I discovered it was important to keep a bit of myself back, but not as much as you might think. It’s much more fun to put yourself out there.
Things I’ve done this year: sutured more than 15 people (including a man’s face), volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission, administered care in Stout Street homeless clinic, watched chest tubes placed, started a dozen IVs, scored lower on a test than I did in 5 years of college (and survived it), figured out that my rotator cuff is partially torn without ever setting foot into a doctors office, won free Avalanche tickets from Dr. French, given out free over-the-counter medications and supplements through the Broadway Assistance Center, helped cast/splint a handful of people, organized events, ice skated in downtown Denver, helped incoming and prospective students, celebrated with my classmates, learned and taught surgical knot tying skills, been elected to the UCSOM Surgical Society board, still managed to get some skiing and climbing in, practiced EKGs in an ambulance, pulled over 70 sutures out of one woman’s feet, drank more wine than I can mention, learned that medical politics are even more frustrating that I thought, watched a heart catheterization, met a class full of people that will be part of my life forever. I also went to Hawaii for winter break, went to NYC for spring break, moved to the beautiful City Park area of Denver, and was part of a very special friend’s wedding.
To be completely honest with myself, I don’t think I was really going to make it through this year until it actually happened. One quarter of med school is over. I find that exciting and baffling at the same time. The one thing I definitely got out of it is that this is really going to happen. Now I just have to make it amazing!