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Stuff [Mar. 17th, 2012|02:19 pm]
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Well, my life is over. Literally metaphorically over.

I finish medical school this May, and then am supposed to go through the next portion of my training: residency, aka on-the-job training in a hospital, aka the thing they do on Scrubs.

Problem is I just applied to a bunch of hospitals and got rejected by all of them. I can't apply again until next year. And then next year, I worry hospitals will notice I got rejected this year and consider me "damaged goods".

I really don't know why I was rejected. I have good grades, good test scores, good everything. Maybe it's just because I studied outside the US and don't have much US experience? Maybe I haven't been involved in enough research? I've sent my application materials to some friends who are doctors and medical administrators to see what they think. Hopefully they will have some flash of insight.

Until then, I will have to do something else for a year.

Which I am really, really dreading. It's not that I don't have things to do. It's that I predict that, after my parents, and the medical administrators who examine my resume, and the part of my brain that looks after my own best interests - after they're all through, I will end out spending the year desperately scrambling after one or another "resume-building" opportunity that will look a lot like medical school. And I hated medical school.

...don't get me wrong. It's not that I hate medicine. Medicine is pretty cool. But medical school is...well...the only people qualified to teach medical school are doctors. And doctors are very busy doing their own doctor stuff. And the way medical schools, or at least my medical school, handle this is to throw me into a hospital, say "You're with Dr. X this week", and then hope it works out. And then I have to find Dr. X, and beg him to let me follow him around while he does his doctor stuff. Ninety-nine percent of doctor stuff is either mumbling to other doctors on the phone in a voice too low for anyone else to hear or filling out paperwork. So I stand there, feeling like a third wheel, as my doctor fills in paperwork or mumbles. If I make the mistake of trying to go off and study for a minute while this is happening, then by the time I get back my doctor has vanished and I have to spend the entire rest of the day wandering the hospital, looking for him. This is assuming I manage to find him to begin with, since doctors are notorious for changing their schedule and not telling their students.

I'm legally prohibited from doing anything useful; most doctors won't let me take blood, perform procedures, or even write notes in the patient charts. Then there's the rare doctor who doesn't care about the rules, demands I do these things, and freaks out when I don't know how to do them because I've never done them before. After yelling at me for a while he teaches me, I do them for the week I'm with that doctor, I'm not allowed to do them for the next eight months with other doctors, and then eight months later the next doctor who wants me to do them yells at me for having forgotten how.

I switch doctors and hospitals between once weekly and once monthly. Every time I go into a new hospital, I have no idea where anything is and have to spend days just finding my team and finding the patients I'm supposed to be standing next to. Every time I switch doctors, it's a new specialty. Did I just spend a month learning about the lungs? Too bad, this is an obstetrician and couldn't care less about the lungs! He's yelling at me for not immediately knowing everything about delivering babies! And two years from now, when I'm with a lung doctor again, I will remember the lungs only insofar as I can retain my knowledge via book and flashcard without having so much as talked about a lung case with anyone for twenty four months.

And I have learned things. I've passed all of my exams, gotten honors on most of them, and done well on all my licensing tests. I've just learned it after the doctor I've been standing next to finally lets me go home and actually study something.

So as terrible as it sounds, I think of medical school as the nine hours in a day when I am forced to stand silently and awkwardly in a corridor next to a doctor, being prevented from using that time to learn or study anything. It's dehumanizing and it's exhausting. And I was so excited about being able to put all of that behind me and become a real doctor who's actually treating people and learning new things every single day and advancing on a career pathway.

And now that's all gone for an indefinite amount of time. And to boot, I've got some kind of mark on me as "the doctor who couldn't get a real hospital job and is doing [whatever it is I end up doing for a year]".

The worst case scenario would be having to live with my parents for a while as I try to get something sorted out. But even as an atheist, part of me doubts God could be that cruel.

I dunno. Right now I'm just sort of sitting here, trying desperately to distract myself in any way possible, while every couple of hours my friends and family send me "helpful" emails like "Hey, did you know there are websites for people who didn't get medical residencies?" (yes, thank you, as a medical student who spends half his time on the Internet, I was aware of this). And it is cruel of me to get upset at people who are genuinely trying to help, but every time I get reminded of what happened it's just like another dagger into my chest.

Oh well. I am cursed with unusual mental stability; instead of being able to throw a cathartic tantrum or have a cleansing breakdown or anything, I'll just keep going to work everyday and posting the same number of things to Less Wrong and Bastion, because my brain is pretty good on autopilot. And in a year or so, it won't matter one way or the other. But still, not okay, Universe. Not at all okay.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: grail76
2012-03-17 02:47 pm (UTC)

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Have you checked with the placement office at your school to see if they have any suggestions?
[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-03-17 04:13 pm (UTC)

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My school is in Ireland and has no idea how things work in the US; I'm trying to avoid working in Ireland as its medical system is horribly broken.
[User Picture]From: little_ribbit
2012-03-18 12:01 am (UTC)

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Do you have an opinion on working in the UK instead of Ireland? I don't know if their system is any less broken than Ireland.
[User Picture]From: histocrat
2012-03-17 03:06 pm (UTC)

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Sorry to hear it. That's pretty puzzling, given that your competence is obvious even to random internet stalkers. My girlfriend suggests that possibly you accidentally applied to only really competitive residencies--she says that with colleges and universities, some alleged safety schools end up being harder to get into than the top-tier ones because everybody picks the same safety schools. Also I imagine the Quantified Health Prize came too late to go on your application. (Maybe you could work with Zvi for a year? I might go back to the NY Less Wrong meetups if it meant getting to meet you.)
[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-03-17 04:15 pm (UTC)

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I do hope to work for Personalized Medicine this year, although that doesn't really exclude anything else as it's a pretty work-from-home type job.

I carpet-bombed hospitals and applied to pretty much all of them I could think of.

Also, uh, who are you? It sounds like I know you, but I don't recognize the screen name.
[User Picture]From: histocrat
2012-03-17 05:46 pm (UTC)

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I'm HonoreDB on Less Wrong, but you won't necessarily recognize that either. I just recently subscribed to your journal since I've noticed that when I enjoy someone's technical writing, I tend to enjoy everything they write. Then my girlfriend was reading my email over my shoulder so we ended up talking about it.

I hope I wasn't overly familiar; I just figured unexpected validation by a stranger might help cancel out unexpected rejection by strangers.
[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-03-17 08:41 pm (UTC)

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Ohhh, right, the one who wrote those posts on histocracy, hence the name. If I were a little smarter I would have made that connection.

And sorry if that came off as standoffish, I just had forgotten the histocracy stuff and was genuinely confused.
[User Picture]From: purejuice
2012-03-17 04:04 pm (UTC)

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that's hard. i'm sorry. could you use the time to do some research and publish? like independent scholar medicine? medical journalism? you're already a good writer.

jes' sayin' the idea of a medical school confidential memoir makes me kind of salivate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_School_Confidential_(comic)

Edited at 2012-03-17 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-03-17 04:12 pm (UTC)

Future Dr.

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A possible solution, Check the Military. They might help you finish up
and pay you as well.
[User Picture]From: mme_n_b
2012-03-17 04:24 pm (UTC)

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Sometime during my third layoff I realized that it's a vacation. Good luck.
[User Picture]From: pktechgirl
2012-03-17 06:39 pm (UTC)

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"yes, thank you, as a medical student who spends half his time on the Internet, I was aware of this"

I had to explain to my mom that sending people the results of your google searches, unread, was Rude, and that sending them about.com links was unspeakably so.
[User Picture]From: ikadell
2012-03-17 07:06 pm (UTC)

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Go do charity stuff. Not necessarily Haiti, rural US is so desperate they hire foreigners - they will take you.
[User Picture]From: squid314
2012-03-17 08:42 pm (UTC)

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I'm actually not allowed to legally practice medicine in the US until I've completed residency at a hospital.
[User Picture]From: ikadell
2012-03-17 10:44 pm (UTC)

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Will a rural hospital not take you as a resident? Or they might, but next year only?
[User Picture]From: mortuus
2012-03-17 10:24 pm (UTC)

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That totally sucks. Condolences. I really do hope a good option rises and ultimately leads to a residency next year.
[User Picture]From: turil
2012-03-17 11:21 pm (UTC)

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That's a huge blow. I'm really sorry. I bet that feels kind of like a rocket launch where the rocket comes screaming back towards the ground and crashes explosively. You were heading towards your goal so strongly.

I wish you well recovering from the shock and finding a way to move towards something brilliant again.
[User Picture]From: hentaikid
2012-03-18 12:38 am (UTC)

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Isn't your father a doctor? Maybe try some old fashioned nepotism. Just this once.
From: (Anonymous)
2012-03-18 12:45 am (UTC)

May the force be with you

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Oh, man, this would be funny if it wasn't sad.
So many kudos for you.
[User Picture]From: ciphergoth
2012-03-18 02:40 pm (UTC)

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Argh, that sucks. Hope something good turns up.
[User Picture]From: xuenay
2012-03-18 06:12 pm (UTC)

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Ouch. Sorry to hear that. :-(
From: gjm11
2012-03-18 11:07 pm (UTC)

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Bugger. FWIW, the "studied outside the US and don't have much US experience" explanation sounds very plausible to me. (But I know nothing about medical careers.) Good luck with whatever happens next.
[User Picture]From: arundelo
2012-03-27 02:35 am (UTC)

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Consider a career in comedy or acting. (Good luck!)

From: (Anonymous)
2012-06-20 04:18 am (UTC)

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Walking in the presence of giants here. Cool thininkg all around!