I always think of myself as a fairly flexible person in terms of how I view people, but one thing that always throws me off is the boxes. By this, I mean that the people you know from school should be in school clothes, and the people you know from work should be at work in work clothes, and the people you know from home should be in disapproving parental clothes. So I get really thrown off when people look and do things differently, even for a day.
We had our first surgical conference of the year on Wednesday, which was a fun event where we presented posters on cases we had seen, and also had the chance to sit in on lectures by experts in different surgical fields. Unfortunately, every time I went to a lecture where someone else in my program was there, I just could not focus. I genuinely do love it when we put on our good faces, because its nice to see everyone gussied up with actually brushed hair and lip gloss and jewelry and skirts or suits, but it weirds me out. I went into one general surgery lecture on laparoscopy over the years, being given by the chairmen of surgery at another program I interviewed with. It was a great lecture, with a really terrific discussion of the trade-offs of laparoscopic procedures, especially with regard to surgical education. I wanted to focus on Dr. F, and I really tried to. But sitting 5 rows ahead of me was my chief and 3 other seniors, and I just kept thinking to myself, "Wow, their hair is shiny. Is my hair that shiny? Maybe it's shiny because they got dressed up today. Or maybe it's always shiny, but they just look different in scrubs. Or maybe it's that new haircut I'm seeing, 3rd seat over. Or maybe it's the contrast of the hair with the sweater? That is a sweet sweater. I wish I had that sweater. Can I get that sweater? It looks so professional yet cool. I want to be professional yet cool. Maybe I need straight hair to look professional yet cool. Oooh, inguinal hernia repair." Repeat ad nauseum.
This seems especially shallow of me, since there was some sort of clusterf*** going down at the mother ship and several residents had to leave early so that several last minute cases could go forward. The intern who was on the night before broke down in tears over a minor mistake that she made which had big consequences, and another intern had to leave to help take her home, since she was so sleep-deprived that she wasn't safe to drive. Quite a few residents weren't able to come due to being on-call at other hospitals, and another resident didn't come because of internal issues. I volunteered to stay till the end to take down all of the program's posters after judging, but mentally escaped into the "pantsuit: Hillary Clinton or lipstick lesbian?" debate.
I finally found escape from my shallowness in the cardiothoracic room, where my poster was being displayed, to hear a cool talk about management of nightmare aorta cases. I was able to say hello to a few surgeons that I knew, including one I rotated with as a first year student in vascular surgery, and another with whom I had done my poster (yet hadn't met because he was at a different institution). We didn't win any awards, but I still felt pretty proud of my poster at the end of the day. I also felt proud of my team.