Sunday, August 12, 2012

Medical School Starts With White

So it's been a while. Mostly because in the past few weeks after getting back from Paris, we've been running around like chickens with our heads just barely still attached.

We ran to IKEA, bought all of our furniture, built all of said furniture, dealt with an IKEA delivery mishap (they forgot to deliver one piece of furniture), unpacked all of our stuff, went on a trip to Hawaii (awesome!), came back, painted the apartment, cooked food for a month to feed us, went to Acadia (awesome!), came back, finished unpacking, and oh yeah...started medical school.

Ziplining in Kauai

A morning swim. Tyler and Adele. 
Our jam-packed apartment! 
My dad and I picked blueberries in Maine!
Hiking in Acadia
More Hiking!

Love and a red hat :-)
My lovely sister in law and her frog
After a life time of dreams, moments of wavering fears, and still completely unsure of what's to come, I am now a medical student. Not a pre-med. Not a doctor. A medical student. A physician-in-training, as one of our professors put it.

One of the major events that most medical students in the US all experience is the "White Coat Ceremony." At the beginning of your medical school career (or in some cases, later) you are given a white coat by your school, signifying that you are now on the path to becoming a physician. Our coats are shorter than the actual doctor's coats, with a plastic name tag that we pin to our pockets, but they were significant none the less.

Cotton, slightly larger than expected, and white, they represented the culmination of the work we had all done to get to this place. The studying, the activism, the caring, the growth and maturation as individuals. But more importantly, the coat was humbling.

It's amazing that a piece of clothing humble you, but I should have known putting on a white coat would. I realized, or rather re-realized, that in a few short years, after my brain has been jammed packed with more information that I thought possible, people will be opening up their world to me. The life, the secrets, the illness, the pain, the happiness--all of it wrapped up into one person for me to care for. I became suddenly and uncomfortably aware of my ignorance. There is much to learn in the next four years, both in terms of the science and the humanity of medicine, before I really can touch my first patient. It is scary. But I am thankful for that time to learn, thankful for the support and guidance, and thankful I have seen my family go before me and do it well. I am not afraid.

So the white coat ceremony is done, my white coat is neatly put away, waiting to be taken out for my Introduction to Clinical Medicine class where I take my first steps talking to patients. Classes have started, and my time is spent primarily on concepts of Biochemistry and, soon, Anatomy. But every once in a while, when I open my closet and see my coat, and I get that tingly feeling of excitement for the day it becomes just a bit longer.