Sunday, January 28, 2007

The ghoul within

Where oh where did the weekend go? I shouldn't complain. At least I had a weekend!

Next week is exciting - it will be filled with a lot more content-rich lectures rather than the standard introductory lecture. We should start to learn a lot more! I'm pumped.

The first week involved a lot of touchy-feely subjects. Now, I think it is important to work on patient communication and empathy. Being able to talk to your patients is a skill that I rate VERY highly. I have seen it make a significant difference in patient treatment and outcomes. But when most of the lectures were on patient communication or subject introductions, it felt a little, well, silly.

I will also get to examine a cadaver in an anatomy lab for the first time. It won't be the first time I have seen a dead body - I have seen quite a few patients die in front of me (thank God I couldn't get through the 5 or 6 specialists to lend a hand - I love working in hospitals!), and have helped in the examination of dead babies, but I have never actually seen a non-plastinated, resected cadaver before.

To be honest, the ghoul in me is waiting to see how the others in my group handle it. I am curious to see how different people deal with what has to be a difficult experience for the first time. They all seem pretty sensible, but you never know how some people will handle things.

By the way, I am not talking about looking forward to seeing somebody have an emotional reaction because somebody close to them died and seeing a dead body brings back all of those feelings. Or if they are shocked and frightened because it reminds them of their own mortality. That would be completely insensitive, nasty and inappropriate. I hope that if there is anybody who goes through such issues in our course (or in courses anywhere) they get help and talk to people about what they are experiencing. I hope they realise that they aren't alone and that people will understand.

To be honest, I probably should examine this ghoulish tendency to make sure that it is not stemming from some sense of superiority because I have seen a lot of tough things before, so it is one area I have dealt with, whereas there are other areas in the course that I'll have no experience in at all and so will feel quite inferior. I know we are all in this together and should support each other's weaknesses and give help where we can. In an ideal world, that is how it should work.

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