I am officially in the throes of Orientation!
We started Orientation with an introduction by the Deans. There are several distinctions amongst the Deans, primarily by office and whether they are responsible for pre-clinical or clinical courses and information. All were memorable but it was Dean Davis, Cardiology, who made the room of anxious, doubtful M1’s laugh. “Welcome to Alcatraz,” he boomed through a handheld microphone. “You aren’t leaving this island until the end of four years. You’ll have to shoot me to leave before then.”
The connection between medical school and prison isn’t as frightening a correlation as I expected it would be. In fact, it makes sense. For four year we are the property of the Medical Center—it is their responsibility to impart life-changing information and ensure we make a successful transition into our professional career. We, in turn, are expected to be diligent participants in an automated system. Maybe the Medical Center isn’t exactly the Rock, but I liked the Dean’s comparison! It would be even better if Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage made appearances in the hospital.
Truly, I think Dean Davis was trying to quell the ever-present fear of failure amongst first-year medical students. Some Deans begin medical school introductions by asking students to look to their right and left and recognize that one of those indicated will leave by the end of the year. What an excellent way to introduce young, anal-retentive students to the medical field! Our Deans, however, welcomed us by confirming that yes, we would make it through the first year, and yes, we were qualified to be sitting in Lecture Room A. No one had made a mistake in selecting our application for acceptance—in fact, we were lucky to be one of 145 students selected from an applicant pool of over 7,000 qualified students. While it didn’t eliminate all of my anxiety, their short introductions dispelled some of the tension and I saw a lot of shoulders relax.
Our first day consisted of getting our ID pictures taken (see below; too legit to quit), picking up Orientation packets, and fulfilling Step 2 of Basic Life Support Training or BLS.
We completed part I while at home over the summer and on Monday we were tested using dummies in the Simulation (SIM) Center. Do you know how hard it is to judge depth on a dummy whose ribs are made of plastic? Oh well, in the words of the second year who addressed our class, we just need to be trained in case someone “croaks” in the halls. Oy.
While I’m thrilled to be experiencing Orientation, I almost wish we could somehow condense the process into two or three days as opposed to five. Masochistic as it seems, I really want to get started with lectures and classes. I’ve only been here for five days and I’ve already been warned, countless times, about how challenging the first week of medical school is and what a huge transition we are about to make. I want that “transition” to get here now! The anticipation is just making me anxious! All I can think about is our first anatomy lecture a week from yesterday. If it’s true that every first-year cries multiple times during the first intensive week, I’d rather start shedding those tears now. According to a study I just read though, crying does nothing to alleviate stress or initiate a change in mood or behavior. Seems like crying is a better method of dehydration than release, something I will try and keep in the front of my mind as the week progresses. For now, though, I will relish our social events, endless discussions of privacy and HIPAA, and my new badge that loudly declares that I am a MEDICAL STUDENT: code for uninformed, idealistic newbie who cannot wait to wear a White Coat.
Lots more about Orientation to come!