(by way of Medical Student Life)
Congratulations on your choice to adopt a med student! Medical students are fascinating creatures, but do require special attention and care so that they may lead a healthy, sane and happy life. Read this important information, and in the event of an emergency call your local hospital/law enforcement/psychiatric facility (depending on the severity of the emergency).
- Realize that unless you yourself have gone through medical school, rotations, residency, etc. you probably will never understand exactly what your medical student experiences on a daily basis. Thus you may have to accept the following behaviors without any real explanation: mood swings (which may increase in frequency during the days before exams) anxiety/nervous breakdowns (these can occur with disturbing frequency) and emphatic declarations that they intend to “quit and go get a job at the GAP”
- Your medical student will start speaking a new and strange language, especially after prolonged contact with other med students or doctors. You will usually not understand this language, so it’s a good idea to deal with their enthusiasm for this language with gentle humor.
- In the event that your student wants to describe something they’ve seen in lab, clinic or a textbook in your language, realize that these descriptions can be graphic and well… icky. Your medical student may also not realize the inappropriateness of describing their day while you’re eating. You may want to invest in a spray bottle to discourage this behavior. Related note: a side effect of your medical student spending time in lab, clinic, etc is that they bring home strange smells or stains on their clothing that should *not* be asked about unless you’re prepared to let them talk about icky things.
- Keep a careful eye on your student while they engage in their most common activity, “studying” (which looks much like their second-most-common activity, “avoiding studying”). During these times, your med student can go long periods without food, instead ingesting worrisome amounts of caffeine. Have some saltine crackers on hand for the inevitable caffeine crash. To bring them out of the so called “studying trance”, gently introduce them to sunlight, fresh air, or anything else concerning the outside world. Be careful to do so slowly, so the medical student’s rage at any problematic material will not be transferred to you.
- Your med student WILL critique any depiction of medicine in the media, depending on their level of knowledge. It is a common side effect of the education process, and can often be dealt with using a tap on the nose with a rolled-up TV guide.
- Finally, the most important step to understanding your medical student is realizing that they are presented with a general message of “Yes, you’re smart. Now work hard, and if you screw up, there are 10 other med students ready to take your place.” This message frightens many new med students, and they may exhibit many of the behaviors described in #1 with increased frequency. You can attempt to reassure them at this time, but realize that they will be unreasonable and dramatic. Remember that your med student will be a loving and loyal companion if you’re willing to endure being neglected periodically. These periods may be difficult, but know that your medical student thanks you for your support and will reward you to the best of their ability…. at least until the next exam.