Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Research, Class, and Literature in Medicine Seminar

We had a research patient today, so I had to come in really early again. When we did the randomization, this patient turned out to be a control. So we didn't have to do too much. Every patient gets randomized by a computer, so we never know until right before the surgery whether any particular patient will be a control versus in the interventional group. I haven't been in the OR for any other controls before today, but they basically just get the standard surgery procedures. I think the resident felt worse than I did about the fact that I had to get up at 5 AM and then there wasn't anything for me to do. But I understand that research is just like that sometimes, and it gave me time to do some reading. Not that I terribly love getting up at 5 AM if it's not absolutely necessary, mind you!

We had stats again today, and the statistician I like was leading the seminar. It was good because he made up some new examples and we went through them using JMP. I feel like I'm finally starting to get the hang of using that program. Do I dare say that it's almost fun?

I spent the afternoon working on my CAPPs for Friday and studying, and then there was an optional literature in medicine seminar in the evening. I had gotten the impression that the speaker was some kind of bigwig in the field of medical humanities, and it sounded like it would be a cool talk. So I signed up to go and did the reading assignments. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed with the seminar. I wound up leaving halfway through. As I think about it, I guess what disappointed me the most is that for a seminar which was billed to be something that would make us better doctors and help us empathize with patients more, it was just, so, well, sterile and academic. The guy was talking about different ways of viewing the aging process. Implicit in all of this was the idea that the medical view was not necessarily the most patient-centered view. That's probably true. But I can't help finding it ironic that the guy's analysis was itself not very patient-centered.

I think the seminar would have been a lot more meaningful if we had read a patient's account of the dying process. There is a hospice center right on the edge of campus, we have a geriatrics unit at the Clinic, and I have no doubt that the issue of dying is an important one for medical students to think about. I guess I just don't feel like this seminar gave me very much insight on dealing with aging and death: not my own, and certainly not anyone else's, either.

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