I just got back from my stethoscope ceremony and I’m really tired but I’m going to write this short documentation of my orientation week. I know that sometime in the future, I’m going to be going through periods of “hell on earth” (as the upper years call it) with the mass amounts of information I have to study, but it is experiences like these, spent with my colleagues and friends, that give me the motivation to push on.
Day 1: Awkward Greetings and Stethoscope Ceremony
“Hi, what’s your name? I’m __”
“What school are you from? Where do you live?”
“Do you have facebook?”
After an excited-anxious night of not sleeping properly, today was the day that I was going to meet my future colleagues. I knew from past meetings that the majority of my class was going to be from McMaster, Western, and McGill…so as someone from Queen’s, I was expecting to meet a lot of new people.
The morning was spent talking to my classmates and listening to our O-week organizers and faculty give talks. We also got our obnoxiously green backpacks that day and took a giant class picture. Blue o-week shirts with green backpacks…looks very uh…environmentally friendly :)
That afternoon, we had our bellringer games. Everyone was split up into teams and we were the ‘Levator Ani’ (aka a group of muscles that uh…opens your anus so the poop comes out). These games were like icebreakers but you’re forced to get uncomfortably close to the other people, such as passing a bagel or onion to the next person via your chin. We even had a chant that was kind of crude and went like: I like Levator Ani and I cannot lie/You other sphincters can’t deny/ When a poop comes down and you have to let it slide/ LA’s got your backside!
That evening was our stethoscope ceremony at the classy Elgin and Winter Theatres. The line was huge to get in but it was a stunning place to have the ceremony and it felt like convocation all over again. The faculty gave their talks about the origin of the stethoscope from a French doctor who decided to use paper rolls to auscultate a patient’s heart and found it clarified the sound. Dr. McKnight gave a very memorable speech about the importance of humility in medicine. It is important to recognize that no matter how many times you’ve been told that you’re the smartest or the best, this does not make you better than your patients because one day you may be a patient and would want to be treated with kindness and respect.
The quote I remembered most clearly was:
“We have a stethoscope ceremony because you need two people for a stethoscope to work. You have to listen. The patient is ALWAYS first.”
I think this is really admirable and reaffirms my choice in school. All other schools I applied to use a white coat ceremony, but a white coat protects your clothes from getting dirty and though practical, it seems elitist to me to wear something that your patient can’t wear.
After the draping of the stethoscopes (I was draped by a family physician who did their residency in Toronto), we had to read the medical student oath and it truly impressed in me the importance of patient welfare first.
“With this oath, I vow to practice the art and science of medicine with passion and compassion, having regard to the interests of my colleagues, my community, myself, and, above all, my patients.”
With that, I’m going to conclude for the first day and continue writing tomorrow!
Day 2: Dean’s Breakfast & Academy Orientation
The Dean’s breakfast was one of my favourite events of O-Week. Sitting in Victoria College’s beautiful Burwash dining hall, we sat with faculty members and classmates, listening to speeches given by the Dean, an Aboriginal elder, and community physicians. The message of caring for oneself first before you can care for others was a prominent theme throughout the talks and I think this was very important to convey in a profession where “patient welfare is first.”
One particularly poignant story I wanted to paraphrase here was about a physician’s experience working as a doctor in a homeless shelter.