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We are two exams into medical school, and I am starting to lose the ability to converse in a socially acceptable manner.

This was already a delicate situation. Since even before postbac I have become increasingly difficult to watch television shows with. I point out medical errors, incorrect logical assumptions and bad scientific methods pretty much as I see them. My parents think it’s cute. Everyone else has taken me off their movie-night guest list.

Now, however, the endless solo study hours are starting to affect my daily interactions. I ran into a fellow med student as I was leaving the library after a ten hour study session the other day and our interaction went something like this:

Her: Hey, how is it going?

Me: I…it…good…think it is. You are doing, how?

Her: ::nervous laugh:: I’m pretty stressed too. Uh…good luck?

Me: I words hard find. Sleep now. Bye.

That was a good day. After a particularly unproductive study session, with the weight of my worries and my backpack weighing me down, the slightest hint of sympathy is downright dangerous. I find myself telling perfect strangers about the genetics paper I haven’t written yet, or that the real problem with studying biochemistry is that all the enzymes have the same names. The guy I buy coffee from every day knows the structure of our exam questions and my roommate has heard several blow-by-blow accounts of classes I’ve found particularly frustrating. In my head I am thinking, this person doesn’t care about the stupid class exercise you did today. This person is a CVS employee who just wished you a nice afternoon. She would probably like to return to her magazine. STOP TALKING.  And yet the poorly syntaxed words spill out.

I always figured that the classic physician stereotype of not being able to talk to their patients came from the general personality type attracted to medicine. We’re folks who like to know how things work, and for the most part the content of our studies is geared toward the technical side of things. But now I’m starting to wonder there isn’t a certain amount of unlearning of basic communication that occurs simultaneously with stuffing one’s head full of facts. I’ve heard statistics on how medical training can dull one’s sense of compassion; perhaps one’s sense of coherency suffers as well.

On the other hand, it might just be me. And it might just improve, given a few more group study sessions and a week off to breathe.

In the meantime, let me know if my writing starts to nosedive into incoherent babbling. And be very sure you want a full answer to your question when inquiring how things are going.