Wednesday, April 18, 2007


My school assigns second year medical students to mentor incoming first year students. When I was a first year, I was assigned C, a very popular, friendly second year. She was also my neighbor, and we frequently met outside while walking our dogs. She gave me a ton of textbooks and advice for getting through the first year of med school; she also left me small gifts in my school mailbox around test time. (My favorite: two cans of Tecate and a fresh lime at the end of Block I exams).

After that year, we both moved, and she became a busy third year, and we kind of lost touch.

Recently, my friend B was talking to her "second year", now a fourth year student almost ready to graduate. Some other fourth years were talking about whether they've stayed in touch with their old first years or not.

One girl was saying, "I used to see my first year all the time, but then I realized she was a super-smart gunner type and I couldn't really help her much." It was C.


So there you go. I'm coming out of the closet. Yes, I'm a gunner. I like to think of myself as a nice gunner, but still. If I had to rate myself on the Med School Hell Gunner Scale, I'd put myself as a cross between the Guns-Blazin' Gunner and the Closet Gunner. If I could add a category of "Apologetic Gunner", I would do so. Yes, I study. Yes, I have a good memory, and I can often answer questions correctly (although not so often as I'd like--I'm quite an expert at saying "I don't know.") However, I don't go out of my way to "snipe" people by answering questions directly addressed at others; I only bring in articles if I've been asked to do so, or if everyone on the team is bringing in articles. Especially on the wards, we all have to survive and get the work done--why make it any harder than it has to be? I don't go out of my way to make others look bad.

However, I do find myself occasionally doing just that--making other people look bad.

On my surgery rotation, I earned a reputation for what I'd like to call, "While sleep deprived, I said dumb shit in front of residents/attendings louder than I intended that came out wrong." For example, one of the residents and I had an ongoing joke. Anytime I messed anything up, he'd say "You fail!" We'd laugh and go on. One day, one of my teammates did something or other minorly incorrect and I said "You fail!" Apparently, the other students weren't in on the joke, and they were appalled that I would say such a thing--they thought I'd made myself look really bad. I'm also an annoyingly loud person, so often I say stuff much louder than I think I'm saying it. I try not to say stuff that I shouldn't be overheard saying, but I fail at this all the time.

On pediatrics (and in PBL last year as well), my attending told me during my eval: "You do a great job, but you should really let the other students answer questions from time to time." Apparently, I'm a little, uh, over-enthusiastic sometimes.


Fortunately, I usually make up for all this stuff by putting my foot in my mouth in some spectacular manner or other. While presenting patients, I get into a "script", spouting off the standard phrases until for some reason, I "derail" midsentence. There's a long pause, and then I usually make a comment about derailing or losing my train of thought because that's exactly what happened--I go brain-dead in midsentence. It's like having Alzheimer's at the age of 25 sometimes.

Once, while describing a patient with Wernicke's aphasia, I said "I heard her speaking--it was just utter, utter nonsense." On rounds. To an attending. I can't remember every time a team of residents and students and attendings laughed at something I inadvertently said during a presentation, but it's happened more than once.

So, in conclusion, while I might be a gunner, I'm not always a smart gunner. In fact, quite frequently, I'm a stupid gunner, though not so stupid as to volunteer for heinous tasks. Like today, when told to do "whiff tests" on all my patients with vaginal discharge. After the first one almost keeled me over, I started throwing away the samples immediately after making the slides--oops, did I forget to do that one? My bad! Good thing there are always clue cells to look at!

Guess I'm not as dumb as I look!


Allison said...

These are things I already knew about you.


Midwife with a Knife said...

You're not dumb. And we're all gunners. :)

By the way, I just tagged you with the "5 reasons why I blog" meme!