Only in medical school … (#1)

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Medical school is a unique environment. It’s also an immersion experience. As such, over the last 2 years I’ve had all these moments where I’ve said/thought/done something that seemed natural, but upon reflecting I’ve realized that my words/thoughts/actions were a bizarre product of medical school. I had one of these moments yesterday, and decided I should start recording these experiences here, going forward. I think they speak to how much medicine seeps into you when you’re steeped in it all day, every day. I also think they’re rather humorous, but I’ll let my readers be the ultimate judge of that. Here’s what happened.

Medical school affects how I think about everyday, nonmedical things — including how to describe the direction I cut my sandwich.

I was making my lunch, a ham-and-cheese sandwich on sourdough bread. I’d had the same thing the day before. And the day before, I’d cut the sandwich in half diagonally, a little offset from the corners, the way we’d done it at the sandwich shop where I worked one summer in high school. Yesterday though, as I stared at my sandwich, I decided to shake things up. Since I live alone, I have a habit of talking to myself out loud sometimes, and said this to no one in particular other than me, quite definitively:

I think I’ll cut it midline today.

I started sawing at the sandwich, then stopped halfway through, realizing what I’d said. Three years ago, I would have said something quite different, probably that I’d cut it “in half in the center,” or “down the middle.” But now I clearly think anatomically, like an attending surgeon discussing with his resident where to make an abdominal surgical incision. That’s what 8 weeks of rotating through surgery will do to you, apparently.

I chuckled as I finished cutting the sandwich and wrapped in foil.

I hope this brings a smile to your face as well.