Gotcha! Now this isn’t a post about me taking my first exam but about me performing my first exam. If you want to read about my earliest medical school testing experience, click here. If, however, you’re interested in reading about how I, the world’s biggest, introvert walked into a room with an absolute stranger and completed a medical history and full physical exam, keep scrolling!
We’ve taken histories from standardized patients since our first semester but combining that with a physical exam was something new and something that was a little bit frightening to be honest. I took a few minutes to gather myself before walking in the room but once I entered, my natural flow of conversation began.
“Hello good morning *hand sanitizer*. My name is Esté Marks and I’m a first year medical student here at Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.” Oh I have that part down. I could do it in my sleep.
Once the history was taken it was time to move the patient up to the examination table to do all the important things. Inspect for any gross abnormalities. Listen to the heart. Listen to the lungs. I had practiced quite a bit in the week before but I was still surprised at how quickly I was moving through the examination. These encounters are timed and we hear announcements about how much time we have remaining while we interact with the patient. For this encounter I was given 20 minutes but was about 80% done when the “10 minutes remaining” announcement rang. In that moment I was scared out of my mind. Had I forgotten something? Had I moved too quickly? There was no time to reflect.
I continued doing what I was doing and completed the exam/encounter in just over fourteen minutes. I was nervous. Absolutely. But once I stepped out of the room and sat down to complete my notes I realized that I had obtained all of the necessary information. How did I move through it so quickly? Heaven only knows. Practice doesn’t always “make perfect” but I do owe some thanks to my friends (and cat) who let me practice for this encounter on them.
This speaks to the fact that anything is possible. When they first told us during orientation last semester that we would be walking into rooms with strangers and touching them and examining them I became instantly nervous. “Knees weak, palms are sweaty” nervous. Yes I have always wanted to be a doctor but I’m also very reserved and very very introverted. For the introvert, practice and rehearsal are key. I have to take time to decide what exactly I’m going to say before I meet someone (especially if it’s for a grade). I’m not where I need to be and I’ll probably still get nervous the next time I have to examine a patient but one day I’ll be thinking of examinations with the same ease that I think of the steps of mitosis!
Thanks for reading lovelies. Does anyone else have any stories worth sharing about their first physical exam? I’d love to hear them. You guys are amazing and the reason for my selfies in the morning. Thanks for everything and stay great.
By the way, my necklace…? Click here!