As I continue my trek across the country, I recently ran into Kevin, a second-year medical student who hails from South Central Los Angeles. He is currently working his way through pharmacology and had this to say about the course:
Why in God’s name does this have to be so hard? Who in their right mind gave these names to drugs anyway? They’re always so confusing. I can’t recall whether tetracycline is birth control or an antibiotic. And is there really a difference between atenolol and metoprolol? I’ll just have to let the drug reps tell me which is better.
There sure is a lot of memorization. Some people use flashcards. I use dirty mnemonics. I don’t know if “killing prostitutes for fun and pleasure” is a true statement, but it sure does tell me the different types of benzodiazepines.
When I told my cousin back home that I was studying pharmacology, this trick asked me if I can give him some OxyContin. I’m not a street pharmacist. And speaking of pharmacists, did you know that they get over $100,000 a year just to dispense pills? They are doing the job of a high school graduate with a computer and are making a killing thanks to the certification laws of our country.
And some people make this their life. I realize that you can make a million bucks by discovering a new drug, but who would want to go through all that time and effort?
This blog is now two years old. As a quick summary, in the past year I’ve written almost 70 posts and had 122,000 visitors take a look at this website. The Match was this past week and by now, all fourth year medical students around the country have given up working on their clinical rotations. Any chance at teaching these people is now hopeless. As the chief resident on my current clerkship told me on Friday, “You don’t need to be here anymore. Enjoy your weekend.”
I’m spending a month traveling across the country in search of guest authors from different medical schools. This week I ran into Jeff from Alabama. He is a first-year medical student who just finished his anatomy class. He has this to say about the experience:
I can’t believe that we just got done with anatomy. Things are all disgusting and nasty as shit in there. From the very first day I knew that we were going to have a tough time. When we got our cadaver, I saw he had an Ozzy Osbourne tattoo on his upper arm, making me wonder what my Paw Paw was doing as a dissection body. But then we dissected the vagina and I knew it couldn’t be him.
If you’ve never seen a dead body, it looks a lot like a deer when you run it over with a pickup truck. But when you cut it open, it looks like chicken. I guess that would explain why am always so hungry at the end of each lab.
I try to be very respectful of the bodies. I always unwrap them carefully before taking out their innards. I heard that some people like to have sex with corpses. That shit’s just plain nasty. Now I’ve had some regretful encounters in my life, but that’s just crossing the line.
The girls in my class have been particularly scared of these cadavers. I got paired up with two ladies who don’t want anything to do with sawing the face in half. I said, “git,” but they just wouldn’t budge. I guess that women just shouldn’t be doctors. Shoot, I just went right to work and manage to get that skull right open. COPS comes on at 7:00 and I needed to get home.
I guess there’s a lot to learn in this class. I never knew that there was both a small and large intestine. That must be why my aunt Geraldine is so fat. She says that she’s big boned, but I think it’s because she has too many intestines.
So I’ll keep working on the dead bodies and one day I’ll be able to cut on the live ones.
I just don’t get it. About once a month I post a rant about how bad military medicine is, point to other resources about life in the military, and link to stories by other physicians about how they’ve been cheated, wronged, or just plain screwed by the armed forces. I even posted a pretty graph to show the loss of income by taking the scholarship. And yet I still continue to get questions along the lines of “Are you serious? Really, it can’t be that bad. What are the advantages?” Here is the latest email I have received from a reader who poses several questions:
1) I am slightly confused about residency in the military. I heard that its TYPICALLY (for usuhs/hsp) 4 yrs med school, 1 yr internship, 2 yrs GMO, n years residency. In other words, despite 75% matching, i heard that the 25% that fell short still do eventually get a residency (i.e. at least fam med/int med/etc.) Albeit, i think this ends up extending ur service years since GMO yrs dont count toward satisfying reqts.
A GMO tour does indeed count towards your payback. If you take the four-year scholarship and do a two-year stint as a flight surgeon, you would only need two more years of active duty service. However, once you start a residency, your commitment will increase. Attending residency is entirely your choice. So yes, most of the people who did not match will eventually end up in residency, although they might wait until their commitment is up so that they can pursue civilian training.
2) how dangerous is being a military physician? What the most danger that theyre in (same danger as combat soldiers vs. supply line soldiers vs. etc)? (i assume the least danger would be at a well established command area)
You’re in the military. You will be deployed. You will face danger on these deployments. Military physicians are listed as noncombatants under the Geneva Convention. However, I am unaware of any nation—including our own—that actually follows the Geneva Convention. Doctors have died in combat in the past, although it is a rare event. Usually, they stay on base at the hospital and don’t travel out with the soldiers on combat missions.
3) Also, do u think that usuhs/hsp prevents u from living at LEAST the stereotypical middle class life (2 toyotas/house/2 kids/retirment/bla bla)?
I have no idea what you’re talking about. Do you mean that taking the scholarship will allow you to live a middle-class lifestyle as a student? USUHS students make above $40,000 a year. HPSP students make around $25,000 a year. Military residents start at $65,000 a year and go up from there. Flight surgeons make about $95,000 a year and up, while board-certified attendings in other specialties start at $120,000-$140,000, depending on specialty. I’m not sure if I’m able to answer your question, but that’s the money that you can expect.
It would be a great help to hear ur input, as opposed to hearing recruiters only. Also, if this isnt too private, why did u decide to do the hsp when it seems like u really are against it? Im just trying to get all the facts before deciding to apply to the usuhs/hsp. Thanks.
Unfortunately, I did not have all the facts when I took the scholarship, which would explain why I’m so against it today. I really think you should… forget it. Just take the scholarship because you obviously don’t care to listen to what I or anyone else has to say about it. Keep my email address handy so that you can let me know how things work out for you during January of your senior year of medical school.