This rotation has been difficult—not because of the workload—but because of interpersonal interactions and my swimming thoughts that continuously bore on my mind. Most days I shadowed different practitioners including a physical therapist, neurologist, internal medicine PA, cardiologist, vascular surgeon, etc. This was fine because I was able to see how practitioners interact with patients, navigate through an interview, and implement a management plan. But at times I stood in the room with the practitioner and patient and I just felt that even though I would mentally assess the visit, I wasn’t really learning how to practice myself.
The times that I did see patients on my own, I was put to the test intellectually and mentally. I saw very few patients here. The first time I saw a patient on my own at this clinic, the PA told me to see a patient who came in with a sore throat. It wasn’t like I had never seen a patient on my own, but somehow I felt so frazzled. Perhaps it was because I don’t feel comfortable at this clinic—like I don’t belong. Along with that, I was seeing the patient in the triage room so there were some pieces of equipment missing, namely an opthalmoscope/otoscope. Anyhow, the patient was very nice, answered all my questions while juggling her young daughter in her lap, and didn’t get impatient when I had to leave the room and find an otoscope to fully assess her. Then I went to the PA to present the patient to him and when it was time to decide the treatment plan he asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to do an antibiotic, so we chose to use Augmentin. And then he asked me what dosage I wanted. I told him the dose and he went, “Are you sure?” And then he asked me if I wanted to prescribe once a day, twice, or three times. These aren’t hard questions, but I felt so nervous because I hadn’t really interacted with the PA, much less worked with him, and he was questioning everything I did as a way to let me have the reins and learn as a student, but I lost all the confidence I had regarding tending to a patient with a fairly simple complaint.
I know that in order to get better at something, you need to practice at it. I know that. But the few times that I saw patients on my own at this rotation site I just felt so dejected, and I felt like I was regressing, not progressing. I don’t know how often this happens to other people during rotations, but to me, it’s been such a demoting feeling and I can’t quite shake it. In the back of my mind, there’s a voice that keeps taunting me, “This is rotation 5. Why don’t you get it? What’s wrong with you?” It wasn’t even that I was put down excessively by the doctor or PA, but I felt like there wasn’t anything I did that pleased them.
Another thing that has been eating at me is the fact that I don’t enjoy the pace of a private practice. In the past few months I’ve enjoyed working in hospitals more than at clinics. Naturally, this would lead me to the conclusion that I should work in a hospital instead of a private office. But then the taunting bites back telling me that I’m not smart enough to work in a hospital, I don’t know anything, how will I be able to work in a hospital?
Up to this point, this rotation has been an extremely difficult internal battle, and this is just one aspect of the many things I face and think about while on rotations.