Sunday, July 24, 2011


I am so unbelievably happy right now. I have had one of the best weeks of my life and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer. I think that the reason for my happiness is multifold. Being a compulsive medical student (you should see how many highlighters I use in my notes), I tried to break it down into each individual factor: 

1. Taking a break from the grind
As I mentioned in a previous post, I think that medical school is awesome. I feel so privileged to be able to learn about the body and spend time with my awesome classmates (PennMed 2014 for the win!). But as any medical student will tell you- the pre-clinical years of medical school can be kind of a grind. You are basically binging on information day in and day out. And although Penn makes a valiant effort to get us in small groups and foster discussions, it can be kind of isolating and frantic trying to memorize all the various microbial pathogens for example. But having some time off has allowed me to get excited about what I’ve learned/am learning. After my last exam, my friend Nick was asking me questions about the gastrointestinal system and as I attempted to answer him, I felt myself getting really excited while explaining how fiber is digested. I think that a little space is a good thing in this case.

2. Being in Botswana
One of the residents I am working with mentioned that I seemed so at ease and comfortable navigating my life here, almost as if I were “coming home.” That sort of resonated with me- I do feel like I’m coming home in a way. Not that spending time in Malawi last year makes me African or that I think I’m super authentic. It’s just that I really enjoy being here. I’ll join in when everyone complains about not finding Heinz ketchup or about the inefficiencies at the hospital but the truth is that I adore being here. Really and truly love it.

3. Doing dermatology*************
I can’t remember the last time that I have been this intellectually stimulated. I am fascinated by the skin conditions we’ve seen and I literally pepper Doug with questions whenever I get the opportunity. I scribble down whatever I can during clinic and then I come home and look up what we’ve seen. I’ve already filled an entire notebook. Without sounding braggy- I am very proud of how much I’ve learned. I went from not knowing anything (not an exaggeration- we’ve not had any derm yet) to being able to describe a rash and even having some ideas about a differential diagnosis. I’ve already annoyed my roommates by talking incessantly about dermatology but I can’t help it- I really love this stuff. 

I have always been"that kid" who loves things that other people consider gross. Pus, absesses, flaky skin, warts, blisters...I love 'em all. My mom once left me a JAMA article (about a derm case) with a note: "because you like gross things." Most of my classmates don't share my enthusiasm so I've tried to keep it under wraps so it's been amazing being around derm residents who share my fascination. 

On Jenny's last night (a Friday night) my friends literally had to drag me out of the apartment because I wanted to stay in an do practice questions with Jenny. I was so sad to see her go but she was kind enough to bequeath me a stack of her old dermatology books so I plan to continue the nerd-ery when I return to Philly.

Gratuitous picture from my trip this weekend. Consider it a preview. 

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