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.