Thursday, July 1, 2010

Husband Held Hostage

Dramatic title, I realize this. To all of our potentially worried loved ones: Dr. D is okay.

Sort of.

All except the fact that he has been held hostage--nay!
He's been enslaved by the Step 1 Board exams for the past eight weeks. That's two months of "holy crap, our entire future depends on this 8-hour exam of brain-torturing interrogation about every stinkin' thing Dr. D has (and hasn't) learned in med school"... and there's nothing that I can do to help. Nothing. A fat ol' nada.

...aside from the whole unconditional love and baked goods thing, I guess. But I'm just not sure the empathy and empty calories are cutting it, folks.

For those of you unfamiliar with how this whole med school thing works, allow me to break down what I've learned so far about the delicate evolution of doe-eyed, ambitious med students into Dr. "Where Does It Hurt?". From what I've gathered, this is what today's typical med student can expect to go through:
  • As an undergrad, you take what you think is the "biggest test of your life," the MCAT. You frantically and bankruptingly (nope? not a word? oh well) apply to any and every med school you qualify for, and then wait on pins and needles for months to find out whether you're that lucky one-out-of-ten who gets in. You will go anywhere you get in, because you know that for every one of you that's been accepted, there are nine other people whose entire future plans have just derailed. You count your blessings, pull on your big-kid pants, and try not to wet yourself from anticipation and fear of the unknown. You try to imagine what it will be like to save lives, and you like it. But you're still terrified.
  • You start Year 1 (out of 4) of med school, and you get the urge to go back in time and slap your past-self awake as you nod off in any undergrad classes having to do with neuroscience or anatomy because DANG, that stuff is rough, and why don't you remember any of it?! You develop a deep respect for people who donate their bodies to science, while at the same time attempting to divorce yourself from the reality that the formaldehyde smell on your clothes at the end of the day comes from a body that used to live. You stuff so much knowledge into your noggin that you half-expect latin terminology to splash out of your ears if you turn your head too quickly.
  • Year 2 brings more knowledge, more applicable skills sets, and your first interactions with actual patients. You finally get to use some of the fun doctor gadgets you eagerly (and prematurely) purchased in your first year, and you are taught to do procedures that make you understand just why doctors are always washing their hands so much--they're probably scrubbing away memories. This year goes by much more quickly, and soon you're staring down the barrel of the true "biggest test of your life," the Step 1 Board exams. This exam, known colloquially as "Step 1" or "The Boards," is essentially a milestone that indicates that you've reached the end of your general medical book-learnin' and from now on the remainder of your education will come from stressed out, sleep-deprived medical personnel during rotations, residency, and beyond. In other words, you darn well better have a firm grasp of everything that was taught to you in those first two years, because from here on out you can pretty much kiss classroom learning goodbye. And say hello to the brain-eating Boards Monster, because it's planning to rock your medical knowledge foundation and see what's left when the dust clears.
Aaaaaaand that's where Dr. D is in his journey. From here, it's 3rd and 4th years of med school (which consist of rotations through the various medical specialties), then applying and moving for 2-4 years of residency (depending on what specialty he goes with), and then he can settle into a practice.

But, as I said earlier, the most immediate and pressing issue is that my husband has been studying for two months solid. I miss him. I miss our social life. And I want this exam to be over because Dr. D is brilliant and I know he's going to boards-slap that exam into kingdom come, but it's stressing him out and it's taken over our kitchen table. Ugh. Get out of our lives, Boards Monster! You're a total party pooper.

One week, and then I can have him back. Can't wait.


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