Monday, January 22, 2007

Happy as a pig in the mud . . .

Well, today was the first day of medical school for this little blue-stethoscoped duck, and it was fantastic! At the end of the day as I was driving away I felt really good and was thinking, "Wow, this is very much where I am meant to be." At the uni that is, not driving AWAY from the uni!

I am going to be VERY busy for the next four years. Actually, I am going to be very busy for the rest of my professional life. I was reading the material and thinking that I am going to love being busy looking at these things and having the privilege of working with people during their toughest times and most of the time being able to help them. For the first time I really get to focus on UNDERSTANDING why a patient is sick rather than the mechanics and physics of the allied health field in which I am qualified. It is very exciting.

Many of the lecturers got up and told some moving and tragic stories that they had encountered in their professional career, and I noticed something odd about myself. When I am actually there at work experiencing something first-hand, I seem to be able to remain more detached about things than when I am reading or hearing a story about the same sorts of tragedies. Perhaps it is because when I am working I can concentrate on my part of the job rather than on the terrible nature of what is happening to the person or people in front of me. However, when somebody is telling me the story and I have nothing to do but sit, listen and focus on what they have been going through, I can get a little misty-eyed. I don't quite run bawling from the room, or even need a tissue, but some stories get to me.

It started me wondering about how psychiatrists deal with this. I understand that they maintain professional detachment, and also concentrate on analysing the person's illness or issue, but they are essentially sitting there listening to the patient rather than spending all of their time fixing their leg while they are under anaesthetic or patching up a wound in emergency. They would hear some terrible stories day in and day out. Do psychiatrists ever get a little damp around the eyes or do they develop a harder skin over time?

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