So as I mentioned in my last post, the family medicine clinic I am currently rotating through has 4 different providers, so I spend each week with a different doctor.
Several of my friends have done rotations in this same office and told me horror stories of both doctors I had yet to rotate with: one HATES when students miss days, even if it is for school assignments. The other rips students apart no matter how prepared they are, because that’s “just her teaching style.” One of my friends got lucky and didn’t have to rotate with the doc who has a rough teaching style because she was on vacation. I had no idea what to expect or even how to prepare for these bad doctors. I loved my first two weeks there with the other docs, but was very nervous about my last two weeks from everything horrible I had heard.
To make it worse, last week was a weird week- I had to miss Monday morning, all day Tuesday, and Friday afternoon due to assignments, presentations, meetings, and flights. I requested that the office manager place me with the doc who rips students apart, instead of the one who hates when students miss days, because, obviously, I would be missing a big chunk of the week.
I showed up Monday (afternoon!) and went in to see my first patient- a diabetic check-up. I knew all the questions to ask and what to check on physical exam from my past rotations and from studying for family medicine… but I was still almost shaking when I left the room. The infamous “mean doctor” told me to go ahead and present my patient to her. (Sidenote: presenting patients is an art form and is pretty much the meat of third year med school- it’s the whole “47 year old female with past medical history of this and this presents for this” format… but it’s pretty difficult when every doctor has a different idea of how they should be done). So I started my presentation. I didn’t do anything differently from any other rotation. I just presented the patient to the best of my ability and ended hesitantly, waiting for her backlash…
and she said “wow, I’m speechless.”
WHAT! I (stupidly) asked her what she meant. I didn’t know if she was super upset or really proud of me, so I didn’t know how to react. She went on to say, “that’s the first time in a really long time I’ve had a student present like that. You’re a third year? You seem lightyears ahead of your colleagues and I never would have guessed you were just in your third year.”
People, I can’t make this stuff up! I immediately went to the bathroom and almost cried. I had been so nervous and shaky about presenting this patient to this supposedly mean doctor, but I impressed her!
The rest of the week was amazing. I learned more from that doctor than I had the previous two weeks with the other docs… and with only 3 full days of the week in the office, that was impressive to me.
We saw some crazy things. We did all of our pap smears and pelvic exams in a room which was decorated with tropical fish… the irony wasn’t lost on me, or on a patient who awkwardly made the observation. A woman with tiffany and co glasses… that had REAL diamonds in the frames. A woman using vicks on her hemorrhoids… reporting it “only burned a little!” Sexual counseling for post-menopausal women. I also had to deal with some challenging things. My first drug-seeking patient who wouldn’t take no for an answer and became very angry. Bargaining with patients to change their lifestyle in exchange for less medication or less appointments…. as if their lifestyle choices in any way affected me personally. Navigating cultural differences with a foreign woman whose husband wouldn’t leave the room and insisted on speaking for her, so my entire patient history was taken from someone other than the person who was having the symptoms. An abdominal exam through jeggings that were so tight that the patient couldn’t pull them down a little so I could do my exam. Telling a woman she had severe memory loss and couldn’t be trusted with driving anymore and needed 24 hour supervision. Watching her process the heartbreaking realization, only to forget it upon leaving the exam room.
On my last day with that doc, her Medical Assistant pulled me aside and told me that she’s worked with her for 11 years and has never seen her like a student as much as she likes me. She told me my doc was talking about me in the break room and telling the other physicians that she loves working with me. She also said that’s not normal for her- and echoed what my classmates had said about how she usually tears a student down before she builds them up, and how she has a really tough/abrasive teaching style.
I know personality differences hugely affect how med students interact with physicians and I know I’ve warned other students about docs who haven’t meshed well with me, only to hear about how they got along really well. Even still, I am happy to have had the experience I did with this doctor. I feel like I really proved myself to someone who doesn’t readily give out approval, which made it more of a challenge and even more of an accomplishment. Like I said, I learned more from her in 3 days than I had in a full 2 weeks with other docs! Tomorrow I start with the doctor who hates when students miss days… I’m not planning on missing any days, but wish me luck!