There are a lot of “firsts” in med school. First day of classes. First day of dissection. First time palpating. First peek at our cadavers. First time doing an ultrasound. First block exam. Etc. Well, today we had our first standardized patients. Standardized patients (for all of you who have never seen Seinfeld) are actors who get paid to come and pretend to be sick so med students, like me, can play doctor. As with all of my med school firsts, I was pretty nervous. As many times as I’ve been to a doctor in my life, you’d think it would be easy to do, but it really isn’t! We learned an acronym to help us know what questions to ask, and yes, I had to write it all out on scratch paper just so I wouldn’t forget in the heat of the moment.
Anyways, my patient was a very nice lady, who did such an excellent job that I almost forgot she was faking! I managed to awkwardly introduce myself, and ask most of the questions I was supposed to. My patient had a cold that was keeping her down. I had no idea what to prescribe or anything, but I think I pinpointed her chief complaint and associated symptoms. Overall, I think I did pretty well. Unfortunately, these encounters were videotaped, so in a few weeks my peers get to watch it and tear it apart. Hopefully I wasn’t nervously shaking or anything that I didn’t even realize!
I am really, really glad it’s over, even though I’ll have dozens more before I’m done. Honestly, it was kind of fun, even if it’s only pretend. I can’t wait until it’s no longer pretend, and I’m actually a doctor with a REAL patient whom I can actually help. But that can wait until I actually know something. Pretend is just about all I’m qualified for at this point in time. And now that that’s over, I can start worrying about our next first….blood draw lab.