Work…….On the other hand, once I got to medical school, the first two years seemed like work. My first two years were predominantly two more years of schooling. We performed our clinical experience in the last two years of our four year medical school. On that basis, the first two years felt more like really hard college. The main difference was that I was no longer grouped with a bunch of wannabe pre-med majors at the state university where, although the competition was difficult, it wasn’t spectacular. In our group in medical school, you were now amongst the folks that were chosen to be the best of the best and it was indeed a challenge to keep up with the crowd. Overall, I think I did well. I was not in the top of the class but in the upper one third, albeit right at the border of the lower 2/3 and the upper 1/3, but happy to be there. There was a tremendous amount of information to be processed those first two years and the purpose of it I could not see for about three or four years subsequent to medical school.
The start of the clinical years, however, made a lot of sense to me. I worked in a hospital in high school for four years and then while I was in college in the operating room and was very comfortable in the hospital environment. I knew how to get things done. Here I could shine above my classmates. I knew how the system worked and was very comfortable scooting about, finding labs that need to be found, x-rays that were lost, getting soft goods and other items from purchasing without truly having a purchase order , etc. A large institutional hospital is very much like the military. There is usually a corporal or some other lower ranked enlisted person who really runs the show and if you can befriend these people, all the rest is easy. The clinical years were enjoyable, and although it was the first time that I really started to do what I wanted to do, there are still some decisions to be made as to what part of medicine to pursue.
Medicine can be divided into operating and non operating doctors. That is, there is a portion of doctors who like to do things to and for people in the mechanical or invasive sense and these I would call the “operating” doctors. The “Non operating” doctors would be those who like to examine patients and think about the possible diseases and do tests etc, but not truly invade the human body to “fix” something. I had always been involved with repairing things around the house , putting radio kits together and I was very enamored of doing things with my hands.
I had a good friend in medical school who also had a similar skill set in the mechanical realm. He loved to work on cars etc. I shared his automotive interest. I asked him one day what part of medicine he was thing about. Without a moment of doubt, the answer came back “orthopedic surgery”. When I pursued further, he said that when the patients came in with an injury, they needed help immediately, he could usually take an x-ray or CT and assign a picture or mechanical problem with a solution to that patient. Then you could repair the afflicted mechanical problem, and the patient would be helped.
At the time, this reasoning appealed to me. To think that one could mechanically fix a problem , as a task oriented person, this was much more appealing to me. Rather than asking someone if they had taken their high blood pressure pill or cholesterol or kidney medicine and deal with the myriad of excuses , as if the medicine had a mind of its own and destined by the cosmos not to be used as directed. The idea of also mechanically using my hands and fixing something “hands on” was appealing……more later…….