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It’s High School — With Scalpels

Originally posted on The Differential on July 9, 2008

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It’s lunchtime at the hospital cafeteria. Patients stand in line, their IV stands in tow. Children from the pediatrics hospital sit in pillow-lined wagons while their parents pick out food. Doctors, nurses, and other staff members file through the cashier, scanning their cards so as to avoid the hassle of carrying cash. The first year medical students eat and talk about their morning experiences on the wards, some more excitedly than others.

A phone vibrates and its owner chuckles as he reads the text message. And that’s how the lunchtime gossip starts. Or maybe that’s just how the morning gossip transforms into lunchtime gossip. He leans over to his neighbor, who then gladly moves the info down the line. A first year fainted during rounds that morning. Everyone smiles, then desperately tries to find out which one of their classmates fainted and on which service.

A character from Grey’s Anatomy said that the hospital is “high school with scalpels.” That could probably be said about medical school, too.

Watching at least one of the medical dramas on television seems to be a requisite for every medical student -– regardless of how little medicine is actually on the show. When the new season of Grey’s was starting, there were a bunch of my classmates who got together to have Grey’s Anatomy nights. (For the record: I don’t care for E.R., I have no comment on Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Gregory House fascinates me, and Turk and J.D. never fail to, in the very least, put a grin on my face.)

In medical school you can find the nerds, the jocks, the popular kids, and the bullies. They’re just called by different names. For example, bullies have graduated to being called gunners. The really mean ones have an even cooler name: snipers (as previously written about by Anna on The Differential). Even the class elections, where interesting promises and platforms can be found aplenty, seem like popularity contests. It’s just tough to grow up.

On the other hand, I’ve heard plenty of stories about the workplace being so much like high school, too. Maybe it isn’t adults acting like teenagers, but teenagers acting like adults. And then we just have a bunch of really mature teenagers in high school. But this is a topic of a whole ’nother post.

The difference between medical school and high school, though, is more than just scalpels. It’s, uh, about… Well, it’s like… It’s about learning to save lives!

Wow. Now I’m even writing like a high schooler.

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