Medical Oncology Service Day#1

The days of surgery and VA outpatient internal medicine are over. No more standing in surgery for 12 hours. No more night trauma. No more patients dying on the table.

First day at the medical oncology department was amazing. In the morning, the attending brought us to the garden behind the Huntsman Cancer Institute for meditation. We all took a minute to recognize the work we do, the trust patients give us, and why we are here. There were 6 of us. 1 fellow, 1 resident, 2 interns, 1 pharmacist, and me. The weather was cold but I felt extremely calm, relaxed, and rejuvenated.  We then spent a moment to share our personal journeys that each of us had prior to working together.   Some came from very prestigious universities, some have very unique background, and some has interesting taste of hobbies! We all took the time to know each other. By the end of the meditation, we became best friends and were ready to see an overwhelming amount of patients on wards!

Everyone on the med onc team were very teaching and genuine. I took care of my first cancer patient on the floor with minimal supervision. It was a lady who had stage 4 metastatic tumor who suffered abdominal pain that was caused by a feeding tube infection. She was expected to have another 8 months to live. I got to admit, I feel very sad to see patient leaving us. But there are no time for negative emotions. We are here to help them and to provide as much comfort as we could as medical providers. I guess thats what the morning meditations are for!

Rounds were very intense and everyone expected a lot from me. All the long presentations with an immense amount of information each patient had is extremely difficult for me. The attending asked me series of questions that I honestly did not recall from Step 1. It has been over half a year and I have forgotten over half the material. I felt discouraged and embarrassed.  I got too nervous and I completely failed my presentation. I forgot to report vital signs. I forgot to report physical exam. And I did not include a detailed assessment and plan.  A voice in my head was telling me, “How horrible of a doctor I will be in the future? What the hell is wrong with me? Am I going to kill someone?”.

The attending saw that and he gave me his full attention. He said, “We are 10+ years ahead of you, why worry? You are doing great”. With these small words of encouragement, I felt valued and respected as a med student. I began to pick up my pace and started to recall my first 2 years of medical knowledge more efficiently. In the end, I was able to provide the correct diagnoses and was able to implement appropriate treatment plans for each patient in wards.

It is unbelievable how much I have grown since day 1 of medical school.  These experiences have changed my life. I appreciate all of my mentors in med school. Even though some days are rough,  it is extremely satisfying to help people who are in need.

Note to self: Stay positive and keep on grinding!


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