Me: She’s dilated 8-9 centimeters now.
Attending: 8-9 cm? What does that mean?
Me: I mean she’s 8 and can stretch to 9, so she’s 8-9.
Attending: Quit being a radiologist**! Is she 8 or is she 9? Make a decision and stick to it!
Well here we are again at the end of the school year, and the TOADS’ inboxes are flooded with “oh crap, I got a C” questions once more.
Since we are all tired of answering these questions, I’ve decided to make the ultimate guide for bad grade advice. So here goes.
So you got a bad grade. Bad for you may be a B+ or C-. Frankly, the number doesn’t matter to me. What matters is your first step. You can:
A) Have a panic attack because your mind automatically jumps to seeing you living in a cardboard box with $500K in student loan debt because hey, with that grade there’s no way you can ever be a doctor and if you can’t be a doctor you might as well give up on all your dreams, right? (Proceed to Chapter 1, entitled “Calm Yo Tits”).
B) Tell yourself the grade is ok because dangit, regardless of grades you are getting into med school because it’s your destiny (Proceed to Chapter 2, entitled “Reality Check”).
C) Beat yourself up about the grade for 5 minutes and then enjoy your summer, after which you will start the semester fresh and ready to study harder (Proceed to chapter 3, entitled “Good Thing You’re Not a Gunner”).
D) Ask yourself “what would WayfaringMD/Cranquis/TNQD/md-admissions do in this situation?” (Proceed to chapter 4, entitled “The Not-So Omniscient Blogger”)
E) Immediately sign up to retake every class you’ve ever taken. (Proceed to Chapter 5, entitled “I owe the Government my Left Kidney”)
F) Blame the grade on your semester of depression / your crappy roommate / your home stressors / whatever (Chapter 6, “Blame it On Milli Vanilli”)
Chapter 1: Calm Yo Tits
Seriously, calm thyself. One bad grade is not the end of the world. Everybody struggles at something. Maybe you’re bad at that subject. Maybe you had other reasons for screwing up. Doesn’t matter. Hakuna Matata. You gotta put your behind in your past. Yep, you’ll have to work harder to bring up your GPA next semester, and you may even need to retake a class, but one bad grade or one bad semester doesn’t have to end it. Geez, if everyone gave up after one failure, we wouldn’t have most of the cool stuff we have today, like vaccines and Viagra and iPhones and sriracha flavored chips. Part of being a doctor is using your mistakes and shortcomings to motivate you to do better.
Chapter 2: Reality Check
Sure, one bad grade is usually not a big deal. (See Chapter 1). But a pattern is different. Everyone thinks they are special enough to be the kid who got into med school with a 3.2 GPA and a 22 MCAT because of their outstanding extracurriculars and shining personality. Our mamas tell us we’re special and we can always achieve our dreams. Well let’s just get real for a moment. If you’re continually struggling to get through undergrad and are making “minimally acceptable” grades, then you might not be able to handle the pace of medical school.
Chapter 3: Good Thing You’re Not a Gunner
Way to be, you anti-gunner, you! You know that your life is not over. You understand that you are not defined by the letters on your transcript or by the ones after your name. Hey, why don’t you go on vacation? Get a job. Volunteer. Change the world a little. Don’t sit in the library and agonize over every missed test question. Hey, if your next class builds on the one you bombed, maybe you should do some reading over the summer and brush up on the concepts you’re rusty on. But don’t get crazy. Just try harder the next time around. Change your study habits and methods. Get a tutor. Give up Facebook (or heaven forbid, Tumblr!) for a few weeks. Find a study group. Better grades are possible.
Chapter 4: The Not-So-Omniscient Blogger
See now, that’s where you went wrong. Because as cool as we are, the TOADS do not know you, your school, or your individual situation. But you know who does? Your school’s pre-med advisor. Or your upperclassman mentor. Or your favorite professor. Or your academic advisor. These people already know your issues (or at least know you better than we gray-faces do). They understand the requirements at the schools you are interested in. When you ask us whether you should retake a class or change your major or whatever, we’re going on generalizations when we answer you. We can’t give you a tailored, personalized response like the advisors who know you can. So next time, read this post and then go ask them.
Chapter 5: I Owe The Government My Left Kidney
Retaking classes can be good or bad. What matters is why you are retaking the class. If you did poorly in a class that you will need to really understand before proceeding forward, then by all means, you should probably retake it so you don’t bomb the next one too. But if you’re retaking based solely on the GPA numbers game, I think it’s kind of silly. Also, retaking 1, maybe 2 classes is ok, but if you’re getting into more than that, well… see Chapter 2.
Chapter 6: Blame it On Milli Vanilli
Life can be hard. I know this. And difficult life circumstances can certainly lead to problematic grades. But this should not be the theme of your personal statement. Don’t go through 4 years of college with terrible grades and then ask an admission committee to look past them because you had some hard times in your life. Sure, it makes for a great story, but how do they know if you can handle the huge emotional/financial/intellectual challenge that is medical school? Instead, take some time off if you need to. Put school on hold, get your life together, and start fresh. Show the AdComs that you were strong enough to not only get through the hard times, but to thrive on the other side.
In a career in medicine, one is bound to make TONS of mistakes. Hopefully these mistakes don’t seriously affect the patient, but unfortunately sometimes they do. Either way I think it’s good to admit your mistakes and learn from them.
So here goes my most recent one.
Last week I was inducing labor on a pregnant lady with post-dates. My first thought when I went to see her that morning was “I should just do a quick ultrasound to make sure the baby’s head is down”. But I didn’t do it. Why? because we had a recent ultrasound report saying baby was head down, and babies very rarely flip back up that late in a pregnancy. Also, when I went to check her cervix, I felt bony head.
And for all you judgy judgertons out there just chomping at the bit to point out that I’m just a trainee who will make tons of mistakes too, just hold on to your britches for one second before you jump on my case, because my most recent medical error is coming up in the queue tomorrow.
Me, to patient referred to GYN clinic: So it says here you were referred to us because of recurrent yeast infections.
Patient: yeah, and I’ve also lost a bunch of weight and I’m always thirsty. I had cancer before. Do you think I have cancer?
Me: Hmmm… when was the last time they did a pelvic exam and swabbed you to check for yeast?
Patient: Oh my doctor never did that. He just called me in some diflucan.
Me (checks records, sees that the patient has been given diflucan more than a DOZEN times in enormous and inappropriate doses over the last several months.): Mmmmmkaaaay…. And has your doctor ever tested you for diabetes before?
Patient: No ma’am, but pretty much everyone in my family’s got sugar problems.
Me: Alrighty then, well I’m going to do some tests today and then send a very long report to your primary doctor.
Me (thinking): And I’m gonna chew him out for 1) not ever swabbing you to see if your yeast really was yeast before you sent her to a flipping GYN clinic 2) nearly killing your liver with huge doses of diflucan 3) not sending appropriate records with you 4) being an idiot.
D: I had to remove a lesion that looked like skin cancer the other day. The lady was allergic to every possible topical anesthetic.
Attending: So what did you do?
D: I just blew on it a lot. You know, like my mom did to my boo-boos.
Me: Dr. C, what did you and Mrs. Dr. C end up naming your new baby?
Dr. C (the most inappropriate OB attending EVAR): well we went with a family name. It’s Talia. Well that’s her middle name. First name’s Jenna.
Me (thinks for half a second): Oh good grief Dr. C!
Dr. C: I know, it’s kind of nuts.
Me (with sterile gloves on, to my attending): hey Dr. C, can you help me out with that lube?
Dr. C (gets the lube): Ugh, I’m pretty sure you just scutted me.
Dr. C: So what are your criteria for discharge of an OB patient?
Me: Ummm… well they should be ambulating well, peeing, bleeding slowed…
Dr. C: sure, sure, all good things. But mainly I ask myself, “if this girl was home alone and her house caught on fire, could she get out of the house?” If the answer is yes, I send her home.
OB patient: Oh, could you refer me to a cardiologist before I’m discharged?
Me: umm… why?
OB Patient: because I saw on the monitor that my heart rate was really high while I was having the baby. That ain’t good. I want them to check out my heart and tell me what’s wrong with it.
Dr. EZ, in a mock argument with an OB nurse over whether to give a patient fluids.
See Part 1 here.
If there was a pill to cure these things, I’d take ‘em fo sho!
“Have you been on all night?” Is nurse code for “you look like crap this morning”. I’ve had 2 nurses ask me that already this AM. Went to the bathroom to check my hair. Confirmed: it is a hot mess.