Being Sick in Medical School
We also don’t really like to or have the option to slow our lives down, to rest up and get well soon when we’re actually sick. Moreso than even in our college education, missing information in medical school is not a feasible option. Even if a fact is not tested on an exam, that doesn’t mean it won’t be on the Step One exams or won’t be necessary to treat or diagnose a patient later. Missing class or clinic now just means that we’ll have to make it up later. So, we may as well go when we’re sick.
Additionally, medical students seem to have an overarching Alice in Wonderland philosophy about applying our medical knowledge to ourselves, “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” We know, in theory, that most of our illnesses will be cured by rest, fluids and a trip to our own medical care provider if necessary. Do we ever take our own advice? Unlikely. Instead, we continue to run ourselves ragged and prolong the length of our illness. I know several of my classmates who “don’t like to go to the doctor” unless it’s to shadow them and spend the day learning.
The real question is, how will we manage to become trustworthy doctors who get our patients to listen to our advice when we don’t follow it ourselves? Is it hypocritical to tell our patients to rest up while we ourselves rarely take time when we’re sick? What can we do to make medical students better patients? I would love some of your thoughts on this!