“I’m a little confused, how long have you been dead?” I asked in an open ended way.……………………..“Oh well now. A while. It must be a while.” The gentleman replied, with hestitation.
A True Enough Story.
This is a narrative medicine piece, about the how and why of the stories we tell ourselves, no matter how implausible.
New York’s Center for Hospital Care, or NYCHC, is a fictitious hospital. Medical school in America takes four years. The fourth year is a strange one. In the first and second year, in most schools, in keeping with the Flexner Report from over 100 years ago— which continues to circumscribe modern medical education—you learn basic science. There is a lot of basic science to learn. You spend some time in outpatient medical offices with primary care doctors. It’s there you get exposure to real patients and practicing doctor stuff. You don’t have any actual responsibility. It’s supposed to feel like responsibility, but somebody else always has their hand on the wheel.
The third year of medical school is also kabuki theater. You act as if you have responsibility. Every once in a while, by accident, you may be responsible for something. But the first time you get really close to actual serious responsibility, the kind of responsibility that you’ll have in your first year of residency training, referred to as internship, is in the fourth year. This is when young medical students, or old medical students, as was the case with me, audition.