Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Color Is Your Parachute?

I remember like it was yesterday. The first week of medical school. The guy with a PhD next to his name handed out a survey. It will take just a few minutes. Twenty or so questions. I attacked the scan tron like a familiar meal at my favorite greasy spoon. A....B.....B....A.

The banality of protocol. Age...race.....years of schooling. And then a simple question:

How comfortable are you with uncertainty?

I scoffed silently as I swayed in my desk. What does uncertainty mean to a medical student? Born into an idea and molded on a concept. Jordan what are you going to be when you grow up...a toddlers eyes hidden under his blankey....a doctor like daddy!

Uncertainty was a joke, wasted on the unsteady. Unschooled in prowess, abandoned by science and logic and abolished by basic college courses like genetics and physiology.

Uncertainty was for the weak! Not for the A++ student that us survivors had become. So we entered medical school and uncertainty was our challenge. Not a question mark but more like a beginning with a tenuous but stringent connection to an end. One just had to search.

And so it became our namesake....our attempt at becoming more...stronger...perfect. Reaching our goal and entering residency we could see the end in sight. The zenith where our efforts are always rewarded, and the sun always shines, and when things do go wrong it is because our attending is not up to snuff.

Until we leave the hubris of training. In the cold , cruel, real world of practice. Where instead of the enemy...uncertainty becomes the awkward bedfellow. Lurking around dark sterile corners, waiting to spring in our most insecure moments.

How comfortable are you with uncertainty?

Ha! How comfortable are you with death...and suffering...and self loathing...and fear?

I guess a helluva lot more then I would have ever expected.

If your not, for god sakes, don't become a doctor!

1 comment:

Danny Ryan said...

Interesting. Uncertainty is not something, however, that a med-school admissions board wants to hear. Any honesty that you might be happy with another job or that you do not "need" to become a doctor is grounds for rejection.