Friday, October 19, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE (The first in a series)

My medical career began in September of 1961 when I joined 175 classmates and walked into the gross anatomy class at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. That day marked the beginning of 4 of the most incredible years of my young life (I was 22 years old). Three years earlier I made the decision to study medicine with no idea of what that would mean in terms of the actual body of knowledge and the science that I would be required to master. How quickly I found out!

I have always considered the years in medical school as part of my career, and not simply as a time of preparation. Each year brought new experiences and a new sense of wonderment and appreciation of what we were becoming and the world we were about to enter.

The first year was devoted to the basics: gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, histology, embryology, biochemistry, and physiology. There were new words to learn, new behavior to adopt, and new expectations to be met, challenges we gladly accepted; with few exceptions, we were all grateful for the opportunity to be medical students. It was 1961 and we were expected, no, required, to attend classes and labs with shirt and tie, a dress code that did not change for the next four years, Suddenly my world was severely constricted to labs and lecture halls, classmates, and study groups, and books, books, and more books. Anything outside of this small world was lost on me and I was to discover some 8 years later that between medical school, internship and residency, and military service with the marines, I essentially missed the “60”s” and all that it represented.

Along with 1o other freshman, I chose to live in one of the medical fraternity houses that were present at that time. In 1961 this center city school had no campus, and the only common student gathering place was a large, plain, and totally un-inviting room in the basement of the school. The fraternity houses provided what little social life there was. But more importantly, they provided the first year students with daily contact with upper class men, a valuable source of information, advise, inspiration, and counseling. Phi Alpha Sigma was one of the few houses that maintained a kitchen with Lil, the wonderful cook who provided us with 3 meals a day five days a week. On weekends we were on our own.

next...Gross Anatomy

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