Thursday, November 29, 2007


So right now I am sitting in a room participating in one of the most common medical student rituals: rounds. Rounds is a generic term for any sort of conference where medical topics are discussed. They come in many flavors and levels of formality:

1. Formal lecture on a topic. Patients sometimes are discussed, but only in the context of furthering the speaker's point.
2. Formal discussion of a series of patients. Generally one person guides the patent order and moderates any discussion that takes place. Morbidity and Mortality conferences are this type.
3. Work rounds. These are rather informal and pretty much any one can speak. These happen on a frequent basis, every day within a single specialty, once a week or so for rounds where multiple specialties meet.

By 'formal' I mean like in a lecture hall with someone at the front.

Right now I'm sitting in work rounds of multiple specialties (#3). It's called Brain Tumor Board and consists of neuropathologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists, and neuroradiologists. And some other people constantly talking about chemotherapy drugs who I can't really identify. They do this once a week, kind of to make sure they're on the same page because they all are essentially treating different aspects of the same patient.

For medical students, these kinds of things can range from incredibly interesting to insanely "kill me now" boring.

Rounds today were going more toward the insane direction, when they just brought up a case of this 87 year old lady who had such a huge tumor in her brain and outside of her skull that it looked like she was a conehead. It was awesome. She should be fine, she just needs it dug out. The only thing she wants in her life is to be able to sit on her porch and talk to her neighbor. Priorities change when you get older, apparently.

A lot of egos in these rounds. And not only the neurosurgeons, surprisingly. It's pretty funny. I hope I don't turn into that.

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