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fainting in med school

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by doctorivy, Jul 16, 2002.

  1. doctorivy

    doctorivy Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 15, 2002
    I posted this thread in the pre-allo and got some good feedback, but I wanted to see what current med students have to say. I am starting med school this fall and couldn't be happier - I have looked forward to being a doctor for a long time. Anyway, while I have been shadowing docs in the ER and OR I have gotten dizzy a couple of times and had to leave the room. When this happened in the ER the doc was very sympathetic and after a while I got used to things. Does this sort of thing happen in med school (clinicals, first day of anatomy, etc.)? Do you think that professors and doctors would be understanding if it did? Thanks for any feedback.
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  3. scootad.

    scootad. Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2001
    hi doctorivy,

    i remember the first day of anatomy lab, as we took the cloth off the cadaver's body exposing his hand, my lab partner freaked out and had to sit down and leave the room for about 15 minutes!
    its perfectly normal to react like that if you have never seen a dead body up close before. But my partner soon became more comfortable with it and he soon became a fixture in the anatomy lab even outside of scheduled lab sessions hours!
  4. doctorivy

    doctorivy Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 15, 2002
    thanks scootad
  5. double elle

    double elle Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2000
    Missouri, USA
    I've got one for you!!!

    I passed out during a 'lab' where we learned how to do a pelvic exam!!!!!!!!! I was next in line and I felt myself begin to get really hot and my back started to sweat like crazy. I made it out of the room and hit the floor right as I got to the bathroom!!!

    Of course, the funny part was that I knew I was pregnant, but we weren't telling anyone at that time. (I hadn't eaten lunch yet.) That poor woman must have thought that just looking at her down there made me sick!!!

    The nurses in the clinic where we were doing our lab gave me some juice and crackers. I was able to go back in and complete the exam after about twenty minutes, but I couldn't look the woman in the face at all....
  6. AtYourCervix

    AtYourCervix Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 31, 2001
    Portland, OR
    hey doctorivy...

    i work in the operating room, and i see this happen with mostly medical students, but even residents sometimes. even when i come back to work after being off for awhile, it takes awhile to get used to being in the mask again.

    dont fret at all if this happens. the best thing you can do is step away from the table if you are scrubbed and just sit on the floor. obviously, you will have broken scrub, but its no big deal...the most important thing is that you dont contaminate the field by fainting on it. leaving the room, getting a drink of juice and eating crackers is the best remedy.

    i just want to reiterate that the feeling is totally normal. the best thing to do to prevent this is to eat a good breakfast before scrubbing into an OR. honestly, i dont think that people faint from being grossed out, usually its because their bodies dont yet have the stamina to withstand the stuffiness of the mask, gown and OR lights. i cant say enough how important an early, hearty breakfast is. i eat every morning in the staff lounge before i start my day and i havent had an episode in a long while.

    hope this helps!
    atyourcervix ;)
  7. Fanconi

    Fanconi Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 29, 2001
    I've never felt faint, but I have had more than one near-puking experiences. :laugh:
  8. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic! Staff Member Administrator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 15+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2000
    hSDN Member
    Don't worry - these reactions are perfectly normal. MOST of us get over them, or at least learn how to more effectively deal with a vasovagal reaction.

    Like AtYourCervix, I find that after being out of the OR for awhile (ie, being on vacation), I can start to feel a bit diaphoretic and queasy myself - it quickly subsides, but always interesting to me when it occurs.

    Take it slowly and you'll be fine. If search is functional, you can do one for this topic - we've had extensive threads on the topic.
  9. tristate

    tristate Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Lubbock, TX
    I got dizzy the first time I watched someone being sutured. The resident at the time was really sincered and said things will get better when I start to suture on my own. And it did.
  10. rubyness

    rubyness Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 4, 2001
    Don't worry about it at all! You WILL get used to seeing procedures and this problem will fade in time.

    1. Make sure you've eaten recently.
    2. Make sure you're well hydrated.
    3. Don't lock your knees while standing for long periods of time.
    4. Don't get too worried beforehand and psych yourself out.
    5. Consider control top pantyhose.

    Just yesterday I was watching a Norplant removal and I had to leave the room. It was all the digging and gouging under the skin with the scalpel in the sensitive area under the arm that was getting to me.

    Hang in there!!
  11. GCS:3

    GCS:3 Allegheny grad 7+ Year Member

    Jul 25, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I know of 2 classmates who have passed out so far. The first ran out of a room during a colonoscopy, and fainted just as she hit the hallway. The second wasn't so lucky. She collapsed in the OR, and hit her jaw on a cart. Had to have her jaw wired for a good part of first year. :eek:
  12. imtiaz

    imtiaz i cant translate stupid Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2000
    New York, NY
    this worries me. i'm sensitive to smell(s). how did you deal with this? very interesting.
  13. doepug

    doepug Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    I've only had one episode where I felt woozy...

    A four year old boy was playing in his front yard. Suddenly, he ran in front of his dad, who was driving a riding lawn mower. The boy lost a huge chunk of his right foot. I was there in the ER when his foot was unwrapped, and I took the ziploc bag with 2 of his toes in it.

    So far, that was the only time I had to sit down to avoid passing out... not too bad for someone who is usually hypotensive. :)

  14. Fanconi

    Fanconi Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 29, 2001
    Smells aren't what really make me sick. It was my ambulance ride-along day during my ER rotation that I really had to try hard not to puke. The crazy driving habits, the bumpy roads, the inability to see outside, the patients who were puking up blood and cheerios....ugh. It was rough. I spent most of the day in vomit-discouraging self-talk.

    I've also felt a little nauseated a couple times during various scopes, esp. colonoscopies, and during laproscopic surgeries. Makes me dizzy. :laugh:
  15. 2ndyear

    2ndyear Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2002
    New England
    Places I've seen people faint in the first 2 years of med school:
    1) NICU, chalk it up to the hot lights, 2 went down.
    2) OR- happens a lot I'm sure, very stuffy in the masks, seeing that perfect skin get cut...I was on the floor and flopping around like a fish out of water before I could finish reciting the boundaries of Hesselbech's triangle!
    3) Pathology lab- gangrenous amputated feet held up by professor. Not me but I probably could have!
    4) Blood drawing lab- again probably happens a lot, watching that needle go in and feeling the warmth of the tube. That was one activity I was sure I would faint doing, but I didn't even feel woozy. Still that warm blood was weird...

    One place where nobody in my class fainted was anatomy lab though, another place where I half expected to be the one doing it when we uncovered the body. For the record people in med school are very cool about fainting and such. No one gets made fun of 'cuz we all get a little queasy. My classmates are always good catchers too, save for the OR nobody has actually got a good bump on the floor. They just come to in a loving classmates cute!
  16. TTT

    TTT Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 29, 2002
    I've not yet had any near fainting/puking experiences in med school, but I, like Imtiaz, am also very sensitive to smells. No one has any suggestions on how to stand nasty smells? :confused:
  17. warpath

    warpath Officer Cadet 7+ Year Member

    Dec 2, 2001
    Okay, I'm having that deja vu feeling again. I saw a kid like that, post op, at the fracture clinic at McMaster while I was volunteering there. Exactly the same thing happened to him. I'm not sure, but I think this kid was around 6 yrs old. He also lost two toes and had extensive skin grafts on his leg.
  18. tussy

    tussy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 12, 1999
    If you expect a bad smell, breath thru your mouth, not your nose. It become automatic after awhile and you stop noticing.
  19. TTT

    TTT Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 29, 2002
    Thanks Tussy,
    I guess I just need more practice at that, cuz when I do try that, somehow gross smells still manage to reach my olfactory hairs :(
    That, or I'm just too sensitive :mad:
  20. tussy

    tussy Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 12, 1999
    In thru the mouth, out thru the nose. Some people put something strong smelling (like vanilla extract, cleanser, etc.) inside their mask in the OR if the expect bad smells (ie. perforated diverticulitis, nasty abscess etc.)
  21. stu4ever

    stu4ever New Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    Breathing through the nose works for me. But you literally have to close the opening from your mouth to your nose. You can feel it happening if you do it right. Sometimes you can actually taste the smells instead. Also, try tea tree oil under the nose. It is thinck like vaseline and will last longer. Just don't gob on too much or you'll look like you snotted all over your self. In fact stick it right up your nose. Smells like vicks vaporub, real strong and mentholly(?). I had to do that one night when I swear a skunk sprayed right underneath my bedroom window.

    Oh and I am looking to get in touch with any McMaster applicants or students. I am looking for some advice on the autobiographical sketch. My email is [email protected]


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