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Medical schools recently discovered a gimmick named “The white coat ritual”. In it, first year medical students don short white coats that have been bought/sponsored for them by alumni. The students like the ceremony; the alumni feel good for doing so; the schools get some cash in the process. Over the years I’ve sponsored a few students; most have had the good manners to write an email thanking me for doing so. When I get one of these correspondences I write back with an introduction of myself and an offer to keep in touch if they need advice. Only one as done this, a young woman named Bo*.

In the past four years, MS (medical student) Bo has sent emails from time to time, telling me about her studies and how things are going. In return I’ve given her sage advice on how to keep sane and not be swindled by the BS-itude of medical school, of which their is plenty. Bo comes across as a bright and excited person, which is good for someone going into Medicine. She’s had the challenge of being trained during covid19 – can you imagine? 

Last week was “Match day” was last week when students discover where they are going for post-school training. She is excited to have matched to some swanky-sounding medical center in Cleveland Ohio- which was her first choice. She will be near her relations.  It is a joy to hear her happiness about all of this.  She asked for some guidance about residency; I wrote my thoughts on how to prepare for the challenges ahead of her.**

I wish there had been someone to have helped me through the trials and shenanigans of my medical training.  I’ve read med students and residents now have more humane work hours and mental health resources to get them through the grueling process that is residency. I hope so. I struggled alone with my depression and anxiety and loneliness which was 1988-1989*** and when I reached out for help it was held against me.  I would not wish my residency experience on anybody.  I hope hers will be more supportive.

Despite the misery and fears that was internship and residency I survived. Bo will survived too. I daresay she will find it hard in her own way. I don’t know for sure but I think she is African-American which means she will be dealing with that challenge too. I hope most she comes out a good doctor and with a good network of colleagues – something I did not yet nor have to this day. I will be curious to see what happens to Bo and I hope to be there to guide her on her Journey.

*Not her real name.

**It is hell.

***I used to joke I was one year younger than I was as “I do not wish to count as part of my life the year lost in internship”.

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March 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018