Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Who doesn't love a pygmy marmoset?

In between the last post and this one, I had a course in Host Defenses. It was a nice course, but generally unremarkable. Except that now, on top of all of the other specialties that I've been certain I'll make a career out of, I've added infectious disease to the list. Do you think they'll let me be an emergency orthopedic neonatologist that specializes in infectious disease?

They would if I worked at Seattle Grace.

So first year is done with, and I've started an eight week research fellowship at the Hospital For Special Surgery. The goals for this summer are two-fold. First, I need to get some research experience under my belt. Strangely, my teaching resume is pretty sparse when it comes to basic science or clinical investigation. Second, I would LOVE to rule out surgery as a future profession. Getting into surgical residencies can be pretty cutthroat... and if I could avoid that, it'd be nice. My hopes that orthopedic surgery will be profoundly unfun spring primarily from two sources.

Source A: I've said it before, and I'll say it again, cutting people open is gross. I remember when I studied abroad in Scotland, I used to walk into their fry shops (shops in which they fry things), and ask them to drop a Mars bar into their frier for me. I can't accurately describe the taste of this beautiful, deep fried, golden brown confection. But I remember that when I bit down on it, I'd pierce its thin, tough fried skin, and out would ooze this melted, gooey, chocolate center. After my first experience watching surgery, I don't think I can eat a deep fried Mars bar ever again. I have a new rule: If something's got skin, the skin should stay on.

Source B: Rumor has it that orthopedic surgeons are misogynistic, weight-lifting, ass-slapping, scalpel jockeys. I did notice that some of the young, male orthopedic attendings who dropped in on our anatomy labs used to spend inordinate amounts of time at the tables of the more attractive female med students. But I have a cousin who's an orthopedic surgeon, and he's not one of those guys, so the jury's still out.

So far this summer, the surgeons and staff that I've met at HSS have been terrific. Funny, down to earth, with just the right amount of ass-slapping.

This week, I've been going to the residents' lectures. It's nice, because I get to get up before 6 am and go sit in a lecture hall and watch powerpoint slides. This morning, as the lecturing pathologist was poring over slide after slide of unhealthy bone, he turned to a slide that looked much like this inset picture. He summarized by saying in the droning monotone he'd used since slide 1, "so if you notice anything in a histological section that shouldn't be there, well, it's probably pathological. Like this, for instance."

Pause, no reaction from the residents.

"This baby, pygmy marmoset does not belong on anyone's finger."

Pause, no reaction.

"It belongs on your stethoscope"


"In the pediatric wards."

Still nothing.

"They are a... they're a hit."

So, now I'll have to add pathology to the list. Those guys are a riot.