Nothing much has been happening. Gyn/onc, by its very nature, has fewer surgeries than plain gyn, and when the surgeries happen, they are immense and complex – so that the medical student is left standing on the edge, grateful for a glimpse of blood or fascia over the surgeons’ shoulders. The only excitement right now is coming from tumor board: a revered institution of Thursday mornings. Revered as in, every resident who graduated from this school remembers their horror on this occasion, and now gleefully perpetuates their experience on us. The two students, having come on service on Monday, are supposed to make a complete presentation, with printed handouts, about every patient operated on or admitted on this service since last Thursday. So we never saw half the people. Two thirds of the charts are missing, in limbo, somewhere. The path reports will arrive sometime – Friday, probably. The residents are sending patients home before we can talk to them. And they all have metastatic cancer, either breast, ovarian, or endometrial. I can’t keep track of the individual differences between the three women with metastatic cancer who presented with nausea and GI bleeding. And the attending is the redoubtable Lebanese doctor, whom even the chief residents are in awe of, who loves to pimp the students till they can’t tell which way is up; centering, of course, on the two of us unfortunate enough to be on his service for two weeks.

So that’s giving us plenty to think about. One lady had surgery last week; the list of procedures performed is an essay in itself: Total abdominal hysterectomy; bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy; parametriectomy; sigmoidectomy; ileocolectomy, and bowel re-anastomosis; left nephrectomy for an incidental, independent primary mass; splenectomy; intentional cystotomy and repair. I’m just amazed they didn’t go after the liver mets too. She’s now in the ICU, so complicated that the chief resident begged us, as a favor to himself and us, not to try seeing or writing notes on her. And now we’re supposed to present her case.

And the Match is tomorrow at noon. Amazingly, the attending seems ready to let us leave a little early and run over to the school, to cheer for our friends in the class of ’06. Personally, I want to see what happens so I know how to behave next year; like every girl watches the bride, to know how to walk down the aisle. All the fourth years we’ve seen in the hospital this week seem to be grinning from ear to ear.

(One of the attendings told us today that we are now selling something valuable, as graduates, and residency programs need to sell themselves to us. Being vaguely interested in surgery, I answered a mass email from the surgery department secretary to that effect. Now I get a personal call from him, seeking my convenience, to set up a meeting for interested students with the chair of the department. This from the guy who gave twelve second-years a five minute dressing-down because one of them didn’t bring a white coat to an elective. Things are really changing. I can’t wait to see what it’s like when we’re actually fourth-years.)

Other than that, the chief resident and the second year on this service seem to be old friends from medical school, or maybe even before. Their good-natured camaraderie keeps misleading me into saying things I really shouldn’t. Thus, when the chief expressed the opinion – couldn’t tell if he was joking – that men should be doctors, and women should stay as nurses or secretaries, I told him I agreed with him, except for OB/GYN. And of course got an explosion from both of them; because you really shouldn’t try to tell men who are dedicating their lives to ob/gyn (the chief wants to do gyn-onc) that women are better for it. I’m not completely clear why it’s ok for him to make a sexist comment, and I can’t. See, here I am thinking like a feminist again. Medical students just need to be quiet. I’m afraid it’s not so much that I’m a truthful person, but rather that I can’t tell when to tell the truth and when to be tactful. This also leads me to blurt out the actual facts about our schedule (ie, lecture finishes at three, so they can require us to do something then) when the other students would rather have the afternoon off. . . Just stop talking, Alice.