Hey all. This being my first post here at Headmirror, I wanted to take an opportunity to introduce myself and talk a bit about what I hope to accomplish with this column here on the site. So without further ado, *ahem*....
My name is Robert Morrison and I'm an MS3 at Oregon Health & Science University, tucked away in the upper left corner of our nation in eccentric Portland, Oregon. I was raised in the area, and as such have adopted many of the common practices of Oregonians. I never carry an umbrella, despite the fact it rains 180 days a year. I recycle. I use paper bags at the grocery store. My nalgene bottle is BPA free, and my wardrobe would make a good magazine spread for REI. But I do shower daily, I promise. I was not an "otolaryngologist from birth" to say the least. Frankly, my extent of knowledge of the specialty coming into medical school consisted of something along the lines of "aren't those the guys who take out tonsils?" I entered my training convinced I was en route to a general surgery residency, and my interest in the field of otolaryngology blossomed somewhat late in the game (as late in the game third year could be considered, anyways). There's a couple of things I'm hoping this column can contribute as I progress through the various aspects of discovering, rotating through, applying, interviewing, and *crossing fingers* matching into ENT.
(1) Give a sense of the journey
The 4 years of medical school are intensely productive, and when looking at everything you must accomplish in between your first cut into the cadaver in anatomy lab and opening that envelope on match day, the journey can seem exhausting and overwhelming. Easy to become lost in the forest from the trees, to borrow an oft-used cliche. I hope that providing a chronicling of the journey as I progress through each step can help lend some insight into each hurdle in the obstacle course and provide some reassurance that getting everything done that you need to is most definitely possible.
(2) Dispel common misconceptions
Yes, ENT is quite a competitive field to match into. To downplay that fact would be a disservice to the realities it takes to match into the field. However, with the blessings of the internet and all the information it affords us, there is the same amount of misinformation out there. I hope to provide a good sense of what the baselines requirements are to make it into ENT and hope to dispel some of the notions that it is impossible to match into a competitive specialty like ENT. I can assure you, there is nothing particularly incredible about myself (despite what my mother will tell you); I'm just like the majority of the 17,000 other medical students out there trying to do my best to succeed within the rigors of medical school.
(3) Provide good resources
Along the lines of information and misinformation, one of the most difficult things in medical school is finding the right places to learn the sort of things you need to know in terms of choosing a medical specialty. Unfortunately, such things are not handed to you on a silver platter, with a note stating "You are going to be an otolaryngologist.” My "exposure" to ENT my first two years of medical school consisted of a one hour lunch talk and the luck of having an ENT surgeon lead one of my physical exam small groups in my clinical medicine class. There is often a dearth of good information about learning a realistic overview of a given specialty, and opinions from docs in other fields can often be skewed by personal opinion and misconception. Along the way, I hope to give some good resources you can reference to better frame your expectations and desires for how you want to practice medicine as a career.
(4) Crack some jokes
Yes, medicine can be a stressful and demanding field. But as our friend Freud so excellently described: humor is one of the mature psychological coping mechanisms. It’s good to have a little fun along the way.
So, I hope you stick around for the journey. Grab your popcorn, or favorite multi-grain bar of choice, and stay tuned. I hope I can shed some light on what it’s like... becoming an ENT surgeon (dramatic dimming on lights).