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Realities of Medicine

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by greenpine, Jul 28, 2000.

  1. greenpine

    greenpine New Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    A friend of mine told me that if I really want to be a doctor I should check out this website, I will not mention the name here, as it would determine if I could handle the realities of medicine. The website had pictures of people in car/bike accidents and victims of torture. There was also a video of this man's arms being cut off as he was caught stealing in Saudi Arabia. I can't sleep several nights now and I constantly think about what I saw. So do you get used to this sort of thing in medicine, and how do you deal with it when you go home at night?
     
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  3. mvalento

    mvalento Senior Member
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    well, i'm not sure how many torture victims are seen by U.S. doctors but yes, i'm sure those in the medical profession do see some disturbing stuff from time to time. especially those involved in trauma/emergency medicine. however, there are many areas in medicine where the potential to see the things that you are describing is little to none- OB/GYN, dermatology, surgical specialties, radiology, and many more. i have heard from several people in medicine that you learn to 'shut off' your emotion, or at least push it to the background. this probably starts in a first-year med student's anatomy class, but i guess we'll have to wait and see.

     
  4. s-pish

    s-pish Member
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    I agree with mvalento. There are other fields in medicine where you are not constantly exposed to 'gruesome' images. Besides, I think medical school will properly train you and help you stomach those images when you come across them. I guess if we do have trouble with that kind of stuff, we probably shouldn't eat a big meal before anatomy class.
     
  5. raindodger

    raindodger Senior Member
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    I'm glad you posted this topic.

    I think the site you may be referring to is rotten.com, one of the famous attrocities sites, but there are many others, and even a newsgroup.

    According to some of my relatives, who are physicians, you will run into this kind of thing sometime during your 3rd year rotations. A lot of students who were not weeded out during their gross anatomy labs usually filter out of the way during these rotations, especially during surgery (plastics, derm, and generic), and during the ER rotation (i dont know if they still have this rotation, but one of my relatives did). Blood letting is another source of anxiety for students, and this takes place a lot throughout the physician's career.

    It's a good thing you were 'blessed' with having someone expose you to the unfortunate realities behind the human body. These are facts of life, and you will, one time or another, encounter these kinds of things.

    If you find that you can't handle these images, you may be wise in changing your career choice, but talk to your pre-med advisor about this to be sure you are making the right decision, either pursuing medicine, or pursuing your true desires.

    Either way, good luck!

    -raindodger

    P.S. for another opinion on this sort of thing, check out http://upalumni.org/medschool/
     
  6. Arti

    Arti Member
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    Most people are disturbed by these gruesome images and the images we are talking about should not be a litmus test for a medical profession. It is all the context you put the images in. The trauma we will see in the emergency room is not the same thing as a torture chamber in the middle east. One has a nightmarish quality to it, the other is a controlled environment where the members of the medical profession know how to handle almost anything.

    For two summers I worked in an autopsy department at a hospital in Boston. It was difficult at first to handle seeing people opened up and "gutted" on a gross scale. However it is something that you get used quite fast emotionally, because you realize that what you are doing is meant to be a "good" thing (that is a neccesary medical procedure) not an evil act of brutality to a cadevour. I will still be horrified if I saw the website you are all talking about, but I will not judge my ability to become a good doctor on me being horrified at those images, we all (doctors or not) should be horrified at these images.

    Arti
     
  7. Dr JPH

    Dr JPH Membership Revoked
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    Come to work with me on the ambulance for a few weeks.
    That's all the prep you need.



    ------------------
    Joshua Paul Hazelton, CNA, EMT-B
    [email protected]
    University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (2002)
    "D.O. Wannabe"
     
  8. I think that it is ridiculous to suggest because this individual is disturbed by looking at gruesome pictures of someone who is having his arms amputated while being tortured that he may be wise to change his career goals, raindodger.

    On another note....I think that the feelings that you are describing are normal. What will help will be a continued exposure to these type of stimuli..hence, the hardening that many physicians encounter.

    My husband is a physician and he has, by the way, never experienced any of these things that you saw on the internet...but I have been to the hospital for dinner many-a-time and listened to the residents and attendings joke and laugh about all kinds of sad or disturbing events...their way of finding a way to cope.

    My mother used to faint at the site of blood and vomit if anyone else was throwing up. After she went to nursing school and worked a few years nothing bothered her....she just got used to it.

    So don't WORRY!

    Kris
     
  9. raindodger

    raindodger Senior Member
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    Well, you're allowed to voice your opinion, as am I.

    In rebuttal, I believe there is a correlation between reactions to such material and ability to cope with such material in a clinical atmosphere. A pre-med I once knew had a problem while volunteering at a hospital, because she couldn't cope with cleaning an elderly person's rear end, or with helping a person who had nausea and was vomiting, instead she thought it would be best to leave the rooms, and to re-bed some gourneys. A year and a half later, I ran into her again, and she told me how her decision to practice/study medicine was so unrealistic, because she couldn't see herself 5 or 10 years from now, seeing what she saw in the medical center we were volunteering in. She loved the science more than the patients, so she began to apply to graduate schools instead, to pursue her studies.

    There are many other experiences that I wouldn't mind sharing here, but they are lengthy, and my time is short. Regardless of all of this, i'm sure medical students who have passed this litmus test will vouch for my opinion's validity.

    Adcoms will tell you, everyone can want to become a doctor, but not everyone will make a great doctor.

    -raindodger
     
  10. As a physician you will rarely if ever see things as gruesome as some of those described, particularly if you are FM, IM, OB, etc. Even in emergency medicine these things are relatively rare. In 10 years of EMS field experience, I have probably seen 3 instances that would qualify as absolutely unbelievable unless you were there to see them. Simply riding on an ambulance for a "few weeks" will NOT expose you to these things - I don't care where you are.

    One of these patients was dead. With the others, after the initial shock of seeing them in such a horrible state, your efforts are focused on the needs of the patient, sort of an auto-pilot medics go into when faced with a particularly tough call - do your stuff on the scene while remembering the old adage "swoop and scoop". I have seen seasoned paramedics get sick right off the bat when faced with a difficult call - usually not because of something gruesome but usually because of smells. They puke, wipe their mouth, and go on with the task at hand. It doesn't mean they shouldn't be in EMS, nor should there be a "litmus test" for physicians as was mentioned.

    You are normal if gruesome images disturb you, but there are many other things that are far more bothersome to many folks - child abuse and sexual assault for instance.
     
  11. Dr JPH

    Dr JPH Membership Revoked
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    Please don't misunderstand me and think that I am saying that working in EMS will allow you to see every imaginable injury.

    In fact, a "Few weeks" will expose one to the disgusting reality and abuse of the EMS system.

    It will allow someone to realize that the free ambulance rides are often given to homeless people who are too drunk to walk or too cold to stay outside.

    It will show you that although you have been to the same house for a domestic dispute that got physically violent, the state has still not stepped in and removed the 4 year old child from the home.

    If anything, that statement was NOT intended to imply that someone will see all of the physical greusomes of the world.

    It was more intended to imply that even a few weeks, or days for that matter, can open someone's eyes to the horrific realities of our country, particularly the things that take place in cities.

    For every serious trauma I see, I deal with a dozen calls that I would consider an abuse of the system.

    Happens on the streets.
    Happens in pharmacy.
    Happens in medicine.


    And, by the way, the most disturbing call I have ever been on was an old woman who fell down the stairs. She wasn't badly hurt, but to see the conditions she lived in was enough to trigger my emotions.


    ------------------
    Joshua Paul Hazelton, CNA, EMT-B
    [email protected]
    University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (2002)
    "D.O. Wannabe"
     
  12. raindodger

    raindodger Senior Member
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    Exactly JPH,

    those are the people we will be working with, the disfortunate, both in health and in many other aspects.

    we should be able to treat everyone equally and indiscriminately, regardless of whether they lost a limb, eat through a straw in their stomach, or have two heads (siamese twins).

    this is the only field in which people who are in it, have the capacity to deal with everything and anything, and it's up to the physicians of the future to serve as leaders for nurses, emts, techs, and physicians' assistants to look up to... let's not forget, they also see what we'll be seeing.

    -raindodger
     

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