comfort with my own voice

5 Apr

Yesterday and today I gave two presentations.

The first was to my fellow students and the attending in charge of medical student education; it was on the topic of Wilms tumor.  Unlike last week’s presentation when I got my ass handed to me, this week’s went much much better.  This doctor is kind of a scary man upon first encounter–tall, lumbering, and so serious.  But he is a phenomenal, albeit intimidating, educator, and brilliant physician who is completely devoted to his patients.  And when he does flash the rare, slight smile in my direction, I can’t help but feel a wave of relief and approval; he might as well have given me a gold star.

Today was a presentation on the use of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding in severely obese adolescents in front of the entire department, including a surgeon who did a fellowship in bariatric surgery.  To say I was careful with my words is an understatement.  I dodged a bullet since the surgeon who has a reputation for grilling medical students mercilessly happened to not be there this afternoon.  Instead, the team threw me a few softballs following the presentation, then entered into their own philosophical debate on the subject.  A quick smile and nod from the attending described above signaled my dismissal.

Of course, it could always have gone better.  I still notice soft catches in the back of my mouth, a few stumbles over words, but in general I feel like I’m not quite so afraid of my own voice.  I look at the attendings, even residents, who use so many big words and never say “um.”  I wonder how long it took them to get there; I wonder how long it will take me.

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