Getting queasy in med school doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad doctor! It happens to a lot of people, and it’s totally okay. Here I’m sharing my recent experience.
It didn’t happen during anatomy when we cut into cadavers every day. It didn’t even bother me to watch brain surgery on a little boy, so I figured I was safe.
I used to get really squeamish watching videos of surgery or even just watching doctor TV show. Since starting medschool I’ve told people it is totally different now. Once you know the physiology, pathology, and purpose of what you’re doing, it just becomes clinical. There is a problem to solve or a task at hand, and that is the focus. It’s not at all “gross” – its actually fascinating.
Getting Queasy For The First Time
But Tuesday, for the first time, I got queasy in med school. It caught me totally off guard. I had excitedly gowned up for my first vaginal delivery, expecting to be completely in awe and eager to get in on the action. Instead, as I stood there watching the resident feel for the head and the nurse coaching the patient through pushes, I started to get hot.
It came on slowly. I didn’t realize it at first since it hasn’t happened to me since I was a little girl. I started to sweat, and then my head started to feel funny. Then I noticed my stomach was a little off and I felt faint. I took a step back from the patient without saying a word.
I pretended to watch what was going on because you have to be interested as med student, but inside I was coaching myself through deep breaths. This was NOT happening!
My face must have turned pale, because a nurse kindly encouraged me to take off my gown and sit down if I needed to. I was avoiding that at all costs. This was my FIRST delivery, my first day with my team. The resident and attending looked back at me on occasion, noticing I wasn’t up with them by the patient. I hated that I likely appeared uninterested, as that definitely wasn’t the case. I was so interested, but my body wasn’t cooperating!
After a few minutes more I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get any closer, so I decided just to sit down like the nurse suggested. I was a little ashamed, but relieved.
I felt more stable sitting in the chair, and was still able to catch glimpses of the baby’s head emerging. Once the sweet little guy was out and on mom’s chest, I felt much better. I quickly gowned up again, hoping that I’d handle helping with the placenta much better. The resident was already taking over that duty, but I was able to get up close again and be taught about the process. It wasn’t the easiest, but I felt much better than before. If I needed a little break I’d just focus on the precious baby.
I apologized to my attending and told her I didn’t feel well. “I know a vagal response when I see one!” she laughed. She didn’t seem mad, but I was still embarrassed. Will I be able to do this every day for the next two weeks? Why can’t I handle this?
I was thrown off the rest of the day, and super nervous about my next delivery. I
told myself prayed it was just a first time thing.
The Next Day
The next morning I mentioned to one of the other residents and a midwife that I had had a vagal response the day before. I just wanted to let them know about it and see if they had any tips going forward. They said it was common for first-timers, and encouraged me to take care of myself if it happens again.
My patient was progressing well and likely to deliver around midday. I grabbed lunch a little early so my blood sugar wouldn’t be low when the time came. Just after I finished eating, the midwife asked me to go with her to check on the patient. We went in totally casually to chat with the patient and check her progress, and before I knew it she was pushing! It happened so quickly that we didn’t even have time to get our gowns and gloves on. I was helping out, right up close, and it was incredible. Just a few pushes and the sweetest, healthiest little baby was born. I didn’t even have time to get nervous. I felt great!
I was so relieved for a better experience and to know that I could handle it. It was actually awesome, although I’m still far more interested in the little baby than the mama. (Peds lover over here!) The midwife was so supportive and helpful, teaching me along the way. And I felt so lucky to be in the room, right next to mom, participating in such a life changing event. So many smiles!
It sounds ridiculous, but I was so proud of myself. I am glad I didn’t let me defeat keep my from trying again. It’s okay to get a little queasy at times, and it doesn’t mean you can’t be a doctor. OB/GYN may not be the career for me, but now I can look forward to the rest of my time on the service and jump at the chance to help out.