Medical School Taught Me What Kind of Doctor I Don’t Want Be

Name: Erin Ricketts, MD

Med School: Tulane University

Year: Fourth Year*

*While Dr. Ricketts is now an MD, she answered these questions as a Fourth Year.

1. What is your #1 study tip?

Don’t spend too much time planning how to study and too little time carrying the plan out.

2. How do you keep yourself motivated or get out of study ruts?

I find something that interests me about a topic, and try to learn a lot of background so that I can explain it to another (usually uninterested) person.

3. What does your daily study schedule look like?

I’m currently at a rotation with the CDC. I get up, go to the campus, work on literature reviews, listen to clinical questions brought to the CDC, and attend interesting lectures. I’m enjoying fourth year, and taking some time off more intense studying.

4. What would your classmates be most surprised to learn about you?

I’m currently writing a book about medical myths.

5. What book would you recommend to all medical students?

I highly recommend everyone read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

6. What would you been doing if you weren’t in medical school?

A veterinarian or wildlife biologist.

7. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in medical school?

What kind of doctor I don’t want to be.There are lots of opportunities to watch others practice and see things that don’t work, and as students, patients are much more willing to provide feedback about their experiences.

8. What was your most memorable “first” experience in medical school?

My first patient with a terminal diagnosis still haunts me. It was very unexpected news for everyone (including me). She wasn’t originally a patient I was following, and I learned of her diagnosis at the same time she did, during bedside rounds.

9. How can medical students better support each other inside and outside the classroom?

I think being honest about rotations and difficult (or just plain inappropriate) residents and attendings goes a long way. Having a safe space (like a Facebook page) to privately discuss grievances with fellow students is also helpful.

10. Did you do any away rotations?

I’m currently on an Epidemiology elective with the CDC!

11. What is the best advice a resident/attending gave you?

Always double check the history. Stories change, and memories aren’t perfect.

12. What is your Step 2 study strategy?

I really recommend UWorld, of course. But other than that, keeping a note set of facts you struggled to remember during your core rotations, and reviewing that.

13. What patient will you never forget?

My favorite was a patient with GERD who had heard honey lemon tea could help sore throats. Lacking tea, he had been simply eating lemons with every meal. Somehow, it wasn’t helping the sore throat.

14. How did you decide what specialty to pursue?

I’m a sucker for infectious disease!

15. What has been your most gratifying moment of medical school?

I dressed up as Batman to perform a physical on a hospitalized child with cancer. He thought it was great for about two seconds before he got jealous, so I ended up letting him borrow the costume for the day. He made a great Batman, IV pole and all.

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