Ward Experience. 5 weeks until test day.

Anthony: Oh no. Those were my first thoughts as I stared at the e-mail.  Oh no, anything but that one. Any ward except, except…  And so for my first two weeks of med school, I was assigned to surgery.

You might wonder why I have such trepidation for surgery, but there’s reason behind my fear. During my young, fledgling year as a sophomore in high school, I was shown a traumatizing video in my biology class. It involved a table saw, excess blood, detached digits, and microsurgery. I can still remember as the darkness crept across my vision from the sides. Thankfully, I managed to cling to consciousness, but only by a thread.

And now, I might faint before med school classes actually begin.

Turns out, my fears were unwarranted. For all those with similar qualms, just know that surgery lacks the uncontrolled blood splatter (I know, I know, this sounds silly, but I was genuinely concerned). My hours I check into the hospital are determined by my third year. For those who are interested, here’s a rough outline of a typical surgeon’s day:

4:30 AM Start pre-rounding with patients

6:30/7:00 AM Start rounds with team (composed of at minimum attending, resident, and 3rd year)

9:00 AM  Surgeries. Paperwork. More surgeries. Even more paperwork. Lunch and dinner are optional. 

Rinse and repeat. Oh, and being on call simply allows you the opportunity to treat patients… throughout the night. I mean, who needs sleep, right? It’s not as if surgeons need rest… for cognitive function… or fine motor skills…  or cutting people… or operations. . .


Janna:  For my wards experience, I was assigned to Internal Medicine at Riverside Country Regional Medical Center (RCRMC). A typical day has me waking up at 5:30 AM to arrive at RCRMC by 7 AM. I go up to ICU 2 (green) to meet my third-year. Then, I follow him around as he finishes up pre-rounding. He starts pre-rounding at 5:30 AM (when I wake up). At 8 AM, we meet up with the rest of the team. Our team, from top to bottom, includes

1 attending physician (years of experience)

2 Residents (2-3 years out of med school)

1 Intern (1 year out of med school)

2 Third-year Med Students

4 First-year Med Students (Me)

=10 people (+ the occasional critical care pharmacists)

As a team, we round (visit) the patients. We fill the hallways as we walk to the patient’s room and crowd outside the door. Then, a resident, intern, or third-year presents the patient’s history, current status, and what he or she believes should be done next. I’ve heard many horror stories about attending physicians chewing out students over these presentations. They are like mini-tests. And, the attending physician can “pimp” the students, meaning pop-quiz them with any question about the disease, treatment, or medicines. However, my attending physician has not bared any fangs. He “pimps” everyone, even us first-years, but he patiently teaches us or tells us to research and get back to him the next day if we don’t know the answers. I hope my future attendings will be as nice.

A few tips for anyone going to round are to eat a good breakfast and wear comfortable shoes. Each patient averages about half an hour, and there can be as many as 20. Oh and by the way, physicians don’t sit or eat. The first day, I followed the round for five hours, and I left early.

But, the ward experience is very educational, and not just for medical diseases. I am also learning about physician-patient, physician-student, and physician-hospital personnel interactions. The ward experience has given me a strong incentive and interest in the material we will study over the next two years. When I am stuck with my nose in a book, I’ll look back on my ward time to keep in mind the ultimate goal to help people in need.



One thought on “Ward Experience. 5 weeks until test day.

  1. Pingback: 1st Year Complete | Med School Survival

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