This whole medical school thing is a real hoot! Medical students spend time all their time attending lectures, studying notes, reading textbooks, taking tests, practicing “fake patient” interviews, getting certified in this and that, and a multitude of other activities.
I dare you to ask any medical student if they have ever wondered, “Why am I doing all of this?” I can almost guarantee everyone you ask will say yes. I know I questioned my sanity several times while I was struggling through the first two years of medical school, but stick with me…I promise this will end up being an uplifting blog entry!
I am a third-year D.O. student currently on an obstetrics/gynecology rotation in Des Moines. During my on-call day on labor and delivery this past week, I was reminded why going to medical school is such an amazing experience and truly is a privilege.
First, just being on labor and delivery is a special experience. As a student you get the chance to really delve into the details of the lives of patients and their families. I met one set of parents who were finally having their first child after years of trying. Another set of parents was having their sixth child and knew this would be the last time they experienced the wonder of bringing a child into the world. A first time expectant mother and her husband were as nervous as they were excited knowing they would soon be the proud parents of twins. In addition to getting to know patients and their stories, you get to witness an amazing rollercoaster of emotions: excited, nervous, impatient, antsy, calm, pained, anguished, euphoric, elated, grateful, thankful, blessed, and then all the way back to resolution. Some patients experience all, some, or only a few of these emotions, but as a medical student, you are incorporated into the fabric that is the beginning of a new life. You find yourself lost in the moment getting your picture taken, shaking hands, laughing, congratulating, and even crying. It is truly unlike anything I have ever done!
Secondly, my day on-call also brought about some interesting weather in Iowa. Despite a very long winter this year, I thought, at the start of the week, spring had a chance of peeking its warm weather and blue skies into the forecast. But I was greatly mistaken! After meeting and chatting with all of the mothers in labor early in the morning, I returned in the afternoon to check on them. Surprisingly, we all talked very little about obstetrics and instead focused on the saucer-sized snowflakes that whizzed past the window. Every mother and I talked about how exciting it would be to look back years later while reminiscing with their child about their April birth day that was engulfed in the biggest snowflakes any of us had ever seen! To each one, this was a special setting for their special occasion. It was truly an honor to share in this premeditated storytelling…heck I might even end up in the story!
As I thought about that snowy day while contemplating what to write about in my first-ever blog, it struck me…. If I were a prospective student or even a random blog reader, what would I like to learn about from a Des Moines University student? Well, I would want to learn that going into a career aimed at caring for and sharing life with patients is absolutely, positively the greatest journey you can imagine. In fact, looking back on this really reminds me that attending lectures, studying notes, reading textbooks, taking tests, practicing “fake patient” interviews, getting certified in this and that, and participating in a multitude of other activities is really a small price to pay so you can spend the rest of your professional career having new experiences that reaffirm why you went to medical school in the first place!
Jon Van Der Veer, DMU D.O. class of ’09