Friday, April 07, 2006

A strange symmetry

Last September, near the beginning of the month, I was at a BGLAM meeting. The September GLMA (Gay and Lesbian Medical Association) Conference was being discussed, as was whether or not several M1s would attend. It sounded exciting to me, though I was a little distressed by the date: it overlapped exactly with my first anatomy practical exam. I'd never deferred an exam before, and it didn't seem like a great plan. (Basically, deferring any exam or quiz allows the student to take the exam during a make-up window, after the exam has been closed to other students. Making up a practical, because it is proctored, requires our class counselor scheduling a make-up time with Dr. Gest, or some other member of the anatomy faculty.) It didn't seem like a great plan because I had seen our schedule for the first Clinical Foundations of Medicine week. We were all over the place, literally. My schedule that week definitely involved my traveling to Plymouth to visit a yoga therapist, to several locations in some of the farthest reaches of Ann Arbor, and of course, sessions back at the medical school before which I would need to park my car at home and walk back. But that's not the point of this post. I ended up deferring the practical, was really stressed out during Clinical Week, and it all worked out for the best. The conference was great.

This brings me to now. Last weekend was the National AMSA (American Medical Student Association) Convention. When I first heard about it I was excited, but again, a little stressed by the date: it overlapped with our final anatomy/histology/neuroanatomy practical exam. My last experience with deferral was that first practical, and really, it was one of the most stressful times of medical school. In retrospect, however, I'm really glad I did it, and I think that at this point I can also say that I'm really glad that I deferred the neuro practical and exam, because the convention was fantastic, and I had a great time in Chicago.

But at the heart of making up the exam was a strange kind of symmetry. It forced me to reflect about how much has changed over the course of the year, between that first practical exam and the last one, and realize how much anatomy I had really learned. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were meeting our anatomical donors. The first time we uncovered our donor was terrifying, yet incredible. The promise of an amazing opportunity to learn far outweighed any other feelings. Now, looking back, it's hard to believe that it went so quickly, and that it's over. This is not to say that I’m not overjoyed to have some free afternoons and to never experience the sweet smell of biostat again, but rather to say that I’m reflective about the experience.