By Rachel Brickman (’16)
One year ago, my typical Sunday consisted of waking up early to study from notes and PowerPoint slides in a sterile, fluorescent lit library for several hours. Once 1:00 PM rolled around, I was back home on the couch, ready to soak in the mindless hours of football I felt I had earned. If anyone tried to talk about medicine during this hallowed time, I’d throw a yellow flag their direction and call a personal foul. When medicine exists only on paper, it’s a chore and a conversation killer.
Now as a third year, I still wake up early to study, but the information comes from journals, research literature, and patient charts. I snuggle cozily in bed, sipping coffee as I review topics that came up at the hospital in the past week. Later, as I watch Eli Manning struggle to remain relevant, I’m happy to discuss particularly interesting or difficult medical cases with my friends. The words and diagrams from years past have now taken shape as children with meningitis and coaches with cancer. Even though I knew it all along, being on clinical rotations has reminded me that I am here not to expand my vocabulary, but to touch lives.
In comparison to first and second year, one learns relatively fewer “book smarts” as a third year. However, the “street smarts” acquired are not only innumerable, but invaluable as well. I am not the books that I read, nor the tests that I take. I am a student doctor discovering where I and my 2D knowledge belong in the 3D world that is medicine.