Top ten things I’ve learned

May 30, 2011 —

Well, another term has come to a close, and I, like many of my fellow classmates, have been reflecting on all the growth, learning and progress we’ve achieved in the past year. Second-years go on to rotations, fourth-years go on to residency, and residents become fellows and attendings. Whether you’re celebrating the success of a loved one or simply contemplating the meaning of the adage “don’t get sick in July,” we’ve all got a lot on our minds these next few months. I, however, as a lowly first-year (at least as far as my DO work is concerned), have only another year in the classrooms to look forward to at the end of summer break. However, in light of my new “celebrate the little things” policy, I’ve decided to commemorate what might otherwise be a less-than-remarkable transition between the first and second years by compiling a list of the top ten things I’ve learned in medical school so far:

The end of one's first year in medical school is a good time to reflect on lessons learned.

10. The recommendation that a person get 7-9 hours of sleep every night is just that – a recommendation. Furthermore, a firm resolve (and a heavy-metal mix on repeat) can stretch the limits of one’s waking mortality in a way caffeine could never dream of.

9. A can of expired soup contains enough botulinum neurotoxin to kill an entire city. Unlike sleeping recommendations, expiration dates are not mere suggestions.

8. I actually did know that the first live human cardiac catheterization was done when Dr. Forssman cathed his own heart (a nurse tried to stop him, but he tied her to the O.R. table to prevent her from interfering). What I didn’t know was that he then climbed a flight of stairs to the radiology department to take his own X-ray as proof.

7. Even if your patient is 75 years old, you are not excused from asking her about recently acquired STDs.

6. There are no “technical difficulties” that cannot be fixed with a hard reset and a fresh pair of batteries.

5. Certain types of porphyria cause a person’s teeth to turn red and their skin to burn in the sunlight. The symptoms can theoretically be treated by drinking blood. That’s correct – vampires basically do exist.

4. Ivan Raimi, who co-wrote “Spiderman 3,” is a D.O. who graduated from DMU.

3.  Unless it was a Philips screwdriver, we really don’t have a clue what the murder weapon was by looking at the wound.

2. If you were to make a horizontal slice through the brain in just the right spot, the resulting cross-sectional image looks exactly like a very surprised seal (look up “caudal midbrain” on Google image some day). On a tangentially-related note, any developmental stage in human embryology can be summarized with a food metaphor.

1. There is a hormone disorder which causes some females to suddenly turn male at puberty. Seriously –look up “five-alpha reductase deficiency” some day.

Well, there you have it – the greatest secrets of medicine laid bare for your enlightenment. I hope you found them as rich and fulfilling as I know I did. And again, to all those celebrating a graduation, a passage into the clinical rotations, or the contrived occasion that accompanies being “25% a doctor” at the end of first year, I wish to extend my sincere congratulations. Now go out into the world and make us proud!


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