Chelsey Baldwin of Little River is a first-year medical student. This
column follows the journey of her class in becoming doctors.
The second annual dean's
poster presentation was one of the last times our entire class gathered
for the year. "Ya'll clean up pretty good," the ever popular Dr. Paul
McDermott prodded us as we filed into the lobby of Colbert Library.
It's true, there was quite a miraculous transformation from the normal
sweaty clothes and disheveled hair that accompanies test week to that
day. But we were there for a purpose: We had come to convince our
various professors that we had understood what they taught us
throughout the year and demonstrate that we were worthy of moving on to
the next step.
Luckily, the responsibility of this
task was spread out across a group of students called a "COM team."
Each team has nine first-year students, who throughout the year become
a close knit, built-in support network. As a team, we witnessed each
other's clumsy beginnings and strides of growth throughout the year.
Therefore poster day became the paramount of team pride.
It was times like those
that I wish we had some sort of a chant or hand shake because by the
end of the presentations, I was full of team spirit for A4, my COM
team. A feeling as if we had won poster day rushed through the group
and added to my sense of denial that, despite my team's strong
performance, we still had another individual test to pass.
However, this was far from
the only factor playing into my denial, which included the fact that I
felt like I had sacrificed all year, and now that the weather had
turned I had had enough. The artificial light of my desk lamp wouldn't
do anymore. I needed the sun on my face. Plus, the recent purchase of
Netflix did little for my drive once the sun had gone down. Yet the
days leading up to the test pass whether you spend them studying or not.
So with the last exam
behind me as well and with a sense of due completion, I feel free. I
had chanted the date May 14th to myself so many times over the past few
months, half believing that it would never come, that seeing days pass
the 14th is almost unreal. I've begun my "last summer," as my
colleagues call it. It is the last time that I can escape from the
clutches of my schooling for months at a time for next summer is the
Boards and then straight into rotations. Therefore, the pressure to
make this "last summer" equivalent with the "best summer" is on. In
fact, my peers and I have spent the last several weeks convincing each
other just how awesome each of our summers will be.
"I'm going on a weekend
trip, like every weekend."
"Well I'm going to lay on
the beach all day, pretty much every day."
"We're going to make it to
"Psh, I'm going to read
novels!" … "OK nerd," we tease the only honest person in the
conversation, secretly knowing that we all can't wait to do the same.
In fact I have started working on two books. I am still working on "The
House of God," the novel I had put down halfway finished at the end of
Christmas break, literally not one page turned since my last hiatus
from school and have also started "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson
at the request of my editor.
While neglecting to initially focus on the author's comedic writing
style, as I'm sure my editor intended, I've become infatuated with the
idea of an adventure.
While I know medical
school is an adventure of its own, I think about the amount of time
spent on just that one pursuit and it makes me restless. For example,
taking in some of the facts from this latest adventure tale, it takes
roughly four months to complete the Appalachian trail. If the amount of
time I've spent mulling over my first year endeavors was equivalent to
time spent on the Appalachian Trail, I would have made it from Maine to
Georgia and back again, and I truly think that's enough hiking to make
even the most dedicated outdoorsman a little weary.
However, since I haven't
spent a bit of the past nine months in the lush greenness of the
outdoor world, I've grown quite attached to the idea of making it to
the mountains this summer. Hiking around in the undomesticated flora
and playing in the ice cold streams of the Blue Ridge seem like the
furthest place from the drafty third floor of Colbert library as I can
get, a complete and healthy change of pace.
I have fond memories of
the mountains from childhood. My parents, sister and I commonly found
our way to a town called Blowing Rock in the mountains of North
Carolina. These childhood memories glazed over with my desire to do
something great this summer have left me with a craving that I think
only some hiking and genuine bluegrass music can appease.
Making it back to the Blue
Ridge Mountains is just one of the many items that are accumulating on
my summer bucket list. Not to insinuate that there is a death of sorts
when I return to school, but to stress completion of this list would be
a way of avoiding regret for missing out on the opportunities that only
time can afford me.
Learning to enjoy the ride
has been key for me this past year.
The time and place you
find yourself in, is the place to be: That goes for tough blocks of
school, the few short hours of spare time on the weekends, or as for
now, the summer with seemingly endless opportunities to fill in the
gaps I noticed throughout the year. While this philosophy has served me
well, I feel certain that at this time in my life, convincing myself to
enjoy the summer will not be hard to do.