T minus 36 hours

September 6, 2004

it’s almost that time. my superlong rest period is waning and actual work is looming right up ahead. in some ways, i’m ready to rejoin the working world (if a graduate student can be thought of as part of this), but i’m also very nervous about it.

see, the thing is, it’s going to take some time before i can a) function independently in lab and b) do anything that is really of any use to anyone. after a year of working my ass off and not having the independence i wish i could have had (though i know i couldn’t have handled it!), i am desperate to be doing something productive all by myself.

on tuesday, i am going to start my first lab rotation by following around one of the graduate students, and he will teach me . . . well, i’m not even sure what he will teach me! techniques he uses in the lab, i suppose. if all goes well, i will hopefully attain quasi-independent status in a couple of weeks and be able to run assays and some experiments that relate to his research by myself. theoretically, i would be able to help him out a bit, and i would love to, since teaching a totally clueless person who has spent her last 2 years far, far away from pipettes and test tubes is a lot to ask of someone.

i hope that there are no expectations that i have any idea what i’m doing in a lab that deals mainly with cells and and their protein products, because i don’t. it’s okay to be clueless (everyone has to start somewhere!), but painful when people you are working with aren’t understanding of why. for example, i was certainly clueless when i started my first rotation of last year, which happened to be surgery. how was i supposed to know where everything was and exactly how my ‘role’ as a medical student was defined? yet, time after time, i was treated very harshly, my residents constantly rolling their eyes at my stupidity. if they had stopped for a moment to think about what my background was (1 year spent in the classroom, 0 days spent in the hospital), i’m sure they would have been nicer. but they were too busy to have those thoughts, i guess.

i hope this new start will be different. i’m not big on transitions in general — i think i inherited a little bit of my father’s desire for things-staying-the-same-as-long-as-they-don’t-completely-suck. he nearly had a coronary when my mother suggested moving the TV into a different room the other day. i’m not quite so extreme, but change in routine is hard for me.

the good part is, i think that the people i will be working with now might be a bit more understanding than those i started out with last year. furthermore, this is the last major transition in my life for a while – probably 4 or 5 years. sure, i’ll be rotating in another lab after this 8 week stint is over, but at least i won’t be doing anything drastically different (cells are cells, you know? well, sort of).

confession: i can’t help thinking about how my getting into the dual degree program was some sort of accident, or how maybe i’m just here ’cause i’m a girl. i’m admitting this to the world because i hope to read it over someday and realize how dumb i was to think that. and because it’s a little bit cathartic to broadcast your insecurities online.

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i got $140 out of my sony clie on ebay! i want to buy a cute blazer, but i am going to behave and buy usmle review books. yay.

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