Wayfaring MD

I am a family medicine resident who likes to highlight the hilarious in medicine as I write about patients, medical school, residency, medical missions, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

HIPAA is for reals, folks. All of my "patient stories" have been changed to protect patient privacy. I will change any or all identifiers, including age, location, race/ethnicity, sex, medical history, and quotes.
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Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hi Wayfaring! I love your blog- I happened to stumble upon it while I was in college and a lot of stuff resonated with me as a Christian and a premed! I am finally an MS1, and it's only been 3 weeks, but I'm already feeling quite discouraged. The amount of information just seems so daunting (our first test is coming up in a week!) and it's hard for me not to compare myself to others/to not worry/panic etc. Do you have any tips for dealing with the stress that comes with being an MS1?
wayfaringmd wayfaringmd Said:

Here are two good posts I wrote a while back about the stress of med school. 

But to add to the advice, here goes:

  • don’t dwell on the “I can’t”s and the “this is hard”s and the “I’m not smart enough”s. We all think we’re not good enough from time to time. But you wouldn’t have gotten in med school if a committee didn’t think you were capable of making it through. 
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  • form a solid network of support people. You need fellow med students in your class and above you (because they’ve just been through it), as well as non-medical people you trust from your family and friends to be your rocks. These are the people you vent and complain and cry to. It helps, I promise. 
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  • If your support network is weak, seek help from school counselors, trusted advisors or professors, or professional help with a counselor. Because hey, counseling is the jam.
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  • take breaks. Find things to look forward to outside of school like weekend football games, camping trips, exercise, visits to see friends and family, etc. These things will keep you going when you’re trudging along, and they’ll help you relax when the time comes.  
  • develop a study system that works for you and stick to it. The more you change things around, the more stressed out you’ll be.
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  • Stay organized. Take a day to get your life together and make calendars, lists, whatever you need to study and live life efficiently. It’ll be worth it. 
  • Take care of yourself as best you can. Don’t eat junk every day. Try to exercise. Keep up with your dentist appointments (geez, advice I could have used about 3 years ago). If you’re falling apart physically, it’s easy for your mind to follow.

Hope these things help friend!


A new academic year is beginning, which means there is a whole new crop of thousands of first years who are, at any given moment, this close to peeing themselves out of excitement or utter fear. So to calm your worries, I’ve compiled a little advice column. Here goes:

1. Don’t look at the cadaver’s face on the first day of dissection. Save that emotional challenge for a week or two in.

2. Take the amount of time you think you’ll need to study and double it. Seriously.
3. Yes, you really do have to know that minute detail about the alpha subunit of the cholera toxin molecule (there’s a reason why I still remember it. Hello first day of medical school… ah the memories).

4. Don’t pull all-nighters. If you don’t know it by 10pm, you won’t know it at 3am. 


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Attending: I need you to chaperone me while I do a prostate exam on the man in room 3.

Me: No can do.

Attending (thinking I’m a little smart @$$, no doubt): Why not?

Me: Because that’s my pastor.

Once again, my community med doc handed me a triage sheet and told me to go get a history from the patient. I did my comm med rotation in my hometown, so by then I had gotten used to seeing people I knew. 

He explained that this patient was a frequent flier drug seeker, and he added a little colorful commentary on his thoughts on her acting skills.

Without reading the name on the triage sheet, I opened the door to the room.

I looked up and realized that the patient was




my step-sister’s mom. 

A little gem from my first year.

Community Med Attending: Go in room 2 and get a history from the patient.

Me as a first year student: Umm, I know her. We go way back. We went to kindergarten together. 

Attending: She knows a student is coming in. She said it’s ok.

Me: *sigh* ok.

Me, talking to patient: Hey girl, so what’s going on with you? 

Patient: I think I got chlamydia. 

Me (in my head): of course you do. 

  • Prof: Hey *******, this is Dr. R. I just wanted to let you know you've been accepted to (insert med school name here)!
  • Me (meekly): reeeeallly?
  • Prof: Really. Ok, now call your mom.

Hand Dropping Test in Pseudocoma:

When a patient is truly in a coma and their hand is released directly above their face, their hand should strike their face on its way down.

Neuroanatomy Through Clinical Cases by Hal Blumenfeld.

As if every one has never tried this on their sleeping younger siblings… I laughed out loud when I read it.

(via drshutterbug)


You can name more amino acids than past presidents.

I’ve been reading one of my pharm books today and I just came across the term “therapeutic abortion”. It really pains me. One more reason why I really REALLY hate reading Pharm.

So… one of the ladies who is in charge of grading our tests and posting the grades couldn’t come to work today. Come to find out, she’s got Bell’s Palsy. Heh. So hilarious that someone couldn’t grade our neuro exams because of a neurological problem. For those who don’t know what Bell’s Palsy is, it’s not serious. It is a paralysis of one side of the face and it lasts a couple of weeks. Anyway, just thought it was ironic.

today my roommate was completely clueless about a simple neurological exam. it bumped up my confidence about this test about a thousand percent.

Hand Dropping Test in Pseudocoma:

When a patient is truly in a coma and their hand is released directly above their face, their hand should strike their face on its way down.

Neuroanatomy Through Clinical Cases by Hal Blumenfeld.

As if every one has never tried this on their sleeping younger siblings… I laughed out loud when I read it.

Brought to you by Neuroscience, 4th ed. By Purves, et al:

Dysdiadochokinesia: describes difficulty in performing rapid alternating movements. The result of a cerebellar lesion. Also a great name for your firstborn child.

And if it’s twins: how about Dysmetria? It describes over and underreaching for an object. Also a result of a cerebellar lesion.

An extremely fun word to say, but it kind of takes you by surprise when it just sneaks up on you while reading a case. My tutor (who is a nephrologist who thinks kidneys are boring so he tutors neuro…) says we should enjoy the word because we’ll never EVER use it in real life. So this is the extent of my daily fun. There’s not too much that’s amusing about brain lesions. Although we did learn about one that makes you feel like one whole side of your body belongs to someone else. So you always think some stranger is in bed with you, following you, etc. Heh.

 By the way, if anyone can make a guess as to how to pronounce the author of Neuroscience's name, please let me know. In group we alternate between Pur-vez, Pervis, and Purvz. We have no clue.  

Today I learned 3 words to describe a piece of the skull that is half a centimeter long. When will knowing those words ever matter? Never.