On a quiet Tuesday afternoon, the dermatology clinics at GMH (General Medical Hospital) are filled with the sounds of clicks and types. As each aftervisit summary is hand-filled with “apply topical corticosteroid before bed”, Chad, a third-year medical student at BMS (Best Medical School), is in the bathroom putting on his white coat and draping his stethoscope around his neck in preparation of his one-hour shadowing commitment per week.
He looks in the mirror, his piercing eyes look back at him, and he back
at them, and them back at him, until he is lost in his own self absorption. A few minutes pass by as he ponders how impressive he is, and he leaves to meet with his resident and attending for the day. When he walks down the hall, he thinks “all these people are jealous of me.”
Attendings know his name. Residents roll their eyes at him and talk about him behind his back. First-year students idolize him. He is just as far from being a Mohs surgeon as all of his other classmates, but you would not guess that by the way he carries himself. In full Brooks Brothers regalia and strapped with a Shinola watch, he has already adopted the spending habits of his chosen specialty. He is, afterall, the president of the Dermatology Interest Group, and he has to look the part.
“Hey, Dr. Chen!” he says as he catches up to his attending and resident in the hall.
“Hi, Chad. Nice of you to join us. We were just discussing our last patient. Why don’t you let us finish up while you go in to see the next patient. You’ve met Sarah before, right?” Dr. Chen said as she gestured to PGY-1 SarahwithanH.
“Nice to meet you. Sarah, was it? Don’t worry about intern year — I’m sure you’ll get through it,” said Chad, graciously offering her advice from his eons of wisdom.
“We’ve worked together before,” said SarahwithanH. Chad walked into the patient room, announcing “Hi, I’m Dr. Chad, a student doctor doctoring with Dr. Chen today. What brings you in?”
“Nice to meet you! You’re a medical student?” said the patient, a 34-year old woman with a PhD who works at the university affiliated with BMS.
“Ok, well, I’m coming in for this mole on my face. It seems like it’s asymmetric, the borders are weird, the color’s not even, the diameter is definitely bigger than my fingernail, and it’s evolving into a rather sightly spot.,” she said.
“Have you ever thought about cutting back on your drinking?” asked Chad, as he started his CAGE questionnaire. Twenty-five minutes later, after a lengthy interview spanning every domain he was taught in his communication course, he stood up to examine the patient with his pocket light, which was gifted to him by a company he tagged in his Instagram posts of him wearing scrubs and walking his dog.
“Looks like cancer. I’d remove the thing myself if they’d let me but let me go talk with the boss and see what we can do,” said Chad as he left the room.
Back in the hall, Chad presented the patient to Dr. Chen. Glancing at his watch, he noticed it was already 4:30 pm. Man, work hours need to be better regulated, he thought to himself. He excused himself from clinic, as he had to go home and go through UWorld for the sixth time this month.
I cured someone’s cancer today, he thought.