I was riding the subway the other day, heading downtown to meet with a friend for lunch, when I noticed a woman in scrubs had boarded the car. I have this newfound sense of solidarity when I see another person in a medical uniform. But what strengthened the bond was that she was carrying a gently worn First Aid text. Ahh yes, the book that every medical student goes to for board exams...
The First Aid could be considered a medical student's safety blanket. It's chock full of high-yield information in an eye-pleasing layout with many helpful mnemonics. (Hmmm...maybe I can cash in on that high praise!) I remember seeing many second years last semester, beleaguered from too little sleep and too much studying, gripping that book as if their life depended on it. It went everywhere they went. And though it hasn't become my teddy bear just yet, it's slowly filling up with post-it notes.
Normally I keep to myself on the subway, either my head is buried in a book or I'm jamming to a good tune blasting in my ear. But I suddenly found myself blurting out, "Good luck on your Step 2 exam!" She looked up in surprise, not half as surprised as I was at myself for striking up a conversation with a stranger. I found out that she is originally from Germany and had been studying medicine in Cologne, but decided to complete her clinical training in the U.S. We got into a chat about the different levels of exams and her clinical experience in a downtown hospital, and we discovered our shared interest in Pediatrics. It was really heartwarming to feel connected to a person in a subway car full of strangers.
For every character in medical school who enjoys pushing buttons and riling people up, there's a friendly face that appears when you least expect it and makes you feel like you're a part of the team.