For three of the 48 weeks of core clerkships, each Penn med student gets to play the part of a tourist on three surgical specialties: ophthalmology; orthopedics; otolaryngology. Most affectionately, “the o’s.” Each specialty is one week with a test on Friday; each is pass/fail; each is focused on learning without any responsibility. They are a very, very welcome vacation of sorts, and I am grateful.
Last week was ophthalmology. Lecture or clinic would start anywhere between 7am and 8:30am and end at 4:30pm at the latest. John reminded me that this was still the length of a normal workday…but a normal workday involves accountability. My only job was to learn exactly as much or as little as I wanted. So, it was entirely okay when, one afternoon last week, I ran an errand during lunch and was late getting back for an afternoon procedure. Rather than interrupt, the nurse guided me to an unused patient room with a bed, instructed me to put my feet up, and closed the door. I took a very pleasant hour -long nap in the middle of the afternoon.
Driving home while it’s still daylight is surprisingly liberating.