Many people have commented on my conspicuous absence over the past year-and-a-half, and all I can say is: It’s good to be back!
Reflective writing was a key part of my med school experience in the M1 and M2 years. It heightened my ability to make sense of the overwhelming process. It also gave me a way to receive insights from my classmates, and share what I had learned, making my experience more generative and collaborative.
But there is a time to reflect and a time to act, and M3 was a time to act. So I deliberately chose to immerse myself in the proverbial tidal wave of clinical rotations, coming up for breaths every month or so but never really drying off. Now that I’ve washed up on the tropical paradise beach that is M4, I’ve found my trusty laptop ashore beside me, and pockets stuffed with hundreds of cryptic notes from my accumulated musings over the past months and years. Some of these literal scraps of paper contain half-thoughts like “Goal: have as many epiphanies as possible”. Others are partial paragraphs complete with edits (why am I proofreading scraps?). Many are scribbled in the margins of whatever I was working on at the time, so they come with some context and often a specific date. For example, “Moral reasoning is not exploratory, it is confirmatory” is scrawled atop a presentation I delivered June 28, 2014. “Passion is contextual” in blue sharpie decorates an envelope postmarked October 28, 2014. More recently, I can often remember what questions I was wrestling with as I wrote such things as “we really are two people: Limbic vs Frontal.”
As I read through the notes I’ve made on my reflections throughout my clinical years, it seems fairly obvious that psychiatry was inevitable. A majority of the notes go something like “People act irrationally, but positive illusions make ppl happier, more confident, and mentally healthier. Thus, irrational beliefs are clung to because they work.” Few-and-far-between are my personal reflections on the beautiful simplicity of the contractile motion of the cardiac myocyte, or the elegance of filtration within the renal glomeruli. That is not to say those things don’t excite me in the moment; they just get crowded out by more psychologically minded musings in my free time.
So over the next few months (my last as a medical student), I will be trying to make sense of these myriad scraps of insight. In so doing, I hope to make sense of med school as a whole.