Originally posted on The Differential on July 23, 2008
My little sister has been on a classic film spree. She announced to me that she wanted to see all the movies that had won an Oscar for best film. She also bought an Audrey Hepburn 3-Pack DVD that contained Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday, and Sabrina.
Okay, I’ll admit that I too am a fan of Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, and other great actresses of Hollywood’s golden era. They seem to convey so much in the subtle facial expressions or tone of voice -– something that I fail to notice with so much CGI/special effects these days. Well, being the awesome big brother that I am, I used my Netflix subscription to order another one of Audrey’s famous films: My Fair Lady.
At almost three hours in length, My Fair Lady is a pretty long movie that traces the journey of a poor flower girl as she is transformed under the instruction of Professor Higgins into a genuine Lady. The process is long and arduous. It’s filled with frustration as well as comical moments. The audience watches as Eliza Doolittle sheds tears and then as she recites phrases like “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain” or some other nonsense about hurricanes in Hereford and Hampshire trying to properly emphasize each syllable to the professor’s satisfaction.
It’s sort of like the transformation that is required of medical students. They say medical school changes you. It changes the way you think, speak, and act. It changes who you are. And it’s supposed to do exactly that. It takes the raw material in the form of an eager, optimistic, and sometimes-naive college graduate and transforms it into a newly minted MD who is probably more than just a little nervous about starting internship.
During orientation and registration our school administrators told us that by the end of just the first year we would notice things differently. We would see and hear things through different lenses.
I am kind of surprised at how true that statement turned out to be. There are words and phrases now floating around in my noggin that I never knew existed.
Mnemonics wander idly through my mind. Sometimes I don’t even remember what they are for. There are words like “LARP” (describing the path of the Vagus nerve) and phrases like “army over, navy under” (suprascapular artery over and nerve under) and “To Zanzibar By Motor Car” (branches of the Facial Nerve).
Prior to the first year, I had never heard of the phrase “differential diagnosis.” Well, on second thought, I did often hear Dr. House ask his team what the differential was. But it kind of flew over my head at the time.
Evidence-based medicine now means something. Before, it just sounded cool. I was a science major. I knew that evidence was good. Now, I still think it’s good. But I’m not too fond of searching through the literature for the latest studies trying to determine a link between statins and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Whenever I go to a restaurant I watch the waiters. Why? Because in Anatomy class I kept hearing about a waiter’s tip that can present with injury to the upper roots of the brachial plexus. I still have yet to see a waiter walking around with the so-called “waiter’s tip.” But it hasn’t stopped me from trying to find one.
Wal-mart is no longer just a convenient place to pick up supplies. It’s also a great place to pay close attention to customers’ faces and gaits. I might be able to identify a walking example of some neurological deficit I learned about in lecture.
As far as medical education goes, I’m just a baby. Or, to tie in with my intro, I’m just starting my training with the good professor. I’m still raw and crude. But even after MS1, I’m glad to report that there’s progress.
In about a month, right after Labor Day, my second year will officially begin. I’ll try to enjoy my last “free” summer. In the meantime, like Eliza Doolittle, I’ll try to faithfully recite the precious tidbits of information that the dear professors have imparted. However, it’s probably a little bit harder than talking about rain falling on Spanish plains in that oh-so-elegant British accent.