Inside Scope on Medical Truths

Donya Forst, Print Editor

When I was younger, I always wanted to be a surgeon, but I was led away because although surgeons save lives and perform miracles, they also deal with some pretty disgusting things. This led me to choose another career in the medical profession, even though I didn’t know that the messy things that surgeons are involved with, other medical professionals are, too. There are many aspects of my chosen health science profession that I wished I had known before I started taking medical classes and doing a clinical rotation in the hospital. So here are 10 things I wish I would have known before I chose a major in the medical profession:
1. People throw up. People bleed. People have all kinds of gross and disgusting things on their bodies. Choosing a career in disciplines such as medical imaging, physical therapy or speech language pathology does not prevent you from seeing any of these things. Trust me, it really doesn’t.
2. Everyone who works in the medical profession is a medical professional. Whether you are a nurse or a doctor or a transporter, you see the same things day after day, and you have to know how to deal with them. You can’t learn in the classroom how to manage patients with specific diseases. Sure, you can learn about those diseases and how they act and make a person act, but how you, the medical professional, interacts with that patient is something you have to learn from doing. Even after that, the next patient isn’t going to be the same.
3. People die. It’s the most natural thing in the world. We all know there is an expiration date, but death is something everyone struggles with. Once again, this is something you can’t learn in the classroom, and possibly something you can never truly understand. You can ask all the questions in the world, but there is no answer. It just happens and I don’t really think anyone ever really gets used to the idea of it.
4. It’s really not a competition. You can be placed in a clinical setting with two to six other people and, sure, you can make it a competition and make yourself and everyone else miserable or you can work together and make it a valuable experience. It goes the same in the classroom. You can plot yourself against everyone else, but in the end it all comes down to what you take away from the experience and how well you adapt to the real work setting.
5. Your professors and clinical instructors really are there to help you. Some people come into college hearing rumors that professors are their worst nightmare or they give tests on irrelevant material or they just don’t care about you. While that may be true for some, the majority, especially at Misericordia, are there to make sure we succeed and get the most out of our education. So if you don’t understand something, ask them for help. That isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.
6. Some people don’t want to be helped. You go into the medical profession because you want to make a difference in the world, you want to help people, right? I know, that’s what everyone says. But then you get those patients who just don’t want any help at all. Don’t take it personally. We really don’t know their lives or what they are going through, and you never know, helping them and staying by their side might be just what they need, even if they don’t know it yet.
7. Scrubs are the most comfortable work attire ever. I always dreaded having to wear a uniform to school or work, but it turns out scrubs really shouldn’t ever be called a uniform. They are the closest things to sweatpants. Especially the OR scrubs – if I could wear those all day every day, I would.
8. You will see some of the coolest things in a hospital. Whether it’s a foot with a nail through it, an artery bypass in the operating room, or open heart surgery, the experience is something you will remember forever, and you will have some pretty gross things to talk about at the dinner table. I believe experiences like that truly do last a lifetime, and there’s no better thing than making those memories when you’re young.
9. Things can get tough, but don’t give up. There’s going to be that week when you have three tests, a lab report, two homework assignments and a lab practical. It’s going to feel like the end of the world and there’s no way you can accomplish everything and be proud of the grades you get. That’s not true. Take one thing at a time, manage your time and just try your best. That’s all anyone can do.
10. It really is the most rewarding job in the world. Students go into school thinking: Is it really worth going to school for this long just to do this? I’m telling you it is. There are not many things you can do that have an impact on a large number of people at one time, where you get to hear other people’s stories, and where you can truly love your job.