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On the job

May 21, 2010

Medical students have a unique ability to flow through hospitals as if we are invisible. There are no staff members or relatives to chase after you, no one is really going to notice if you’re missing from a ward round or clinic, yet the ID badge and purposeful walk gets you around most places without being questioned. That’s why the stethoscope comes in handy – at least there’s an identifying marker that this person is either a doctor or another healthcare professional.

I used to wear the tubes around my neck, but not anymore. It isn’t a self-loathing thing, it’s partly for hygiene reasons; I doubt the patient wants whatever is lingering around the nape of my neck and hair rubbing against their chest and vice versa. The other half of me feels that they weigh me down – not that I hold the weight of the world against my shoulders, although pre-finals, it feels that way.

(Un)fortunately, I cannot hide my emotions and tears are a good means to make myself oh so less invisible. There were many of those after the mock exam on Wednesday. I was expecting to be signed off yesterday so I could go home, but he didn’t get the chance, and by this morning, I couldn’t keep a face without weeping. In the end, the lovely administrator told me to go home and she would sort the forms out.

I was worried about how the medical school would react to this, I’m normally conscientious about paperwork and I had a horrible gut feeling that I was going to get a number of emails, and I decided to call the medical school’s office to pre-empt any communication. Instead, I had a voice message from the medical school gently saying they’re worried about me and could I call them. A weepy but reassuring phone-call later and I discovered I wasn’t as invisible as I thought.

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