In my family medicine rotation, I saw two or three obstetrics/gynecology appointments. One included the world’s most awkward Pap smear, where the doctor fumbled to find the appropriate equipment and the patient was suffering from a messy infection that made the room smell unpleasant as the doctor clumsily shuffled her tools. Another clinic appointment involved a patient who had been waiting for an hour for a Pap smear and reluctantly let me be a part of the procedure while my attending stood over me and micromanaged what I was doing. Based on these experiences, I decided that I was going to hate my OB/GYN rotation. I thought it would be messy and scattered and disorganized. However, true to my nature, I remained curious.
I approached the first day timid, anxious, and uptight. I was worried I would be in the way or that I would get amniotic fluid on my shoes. However, as soon as I saw the OB/GYN doctors in action, I could not look away. Mesmerized by their skill and dexterity, I slowly released the fears I had been holding onto. Like a sponge, I observed and absorbed the expert movements they performed as if they’d been choreographed. The clinic procedures and the labor and deliveries were so much more fluid and natural than the two unfortunate appointments I had seen in my family medicine rotation. As I began to shed my preconceived notions, I was able to open up to my primary purpose in the hospital: to learn.
My OB/GYN rotation ended up being my favorite one so far, and I am thankful that I was able to open my mind to the messiness. On several occasions in my time on Labor and Delivery, I was able to spend hours coaching women through the births of their children, which is a privilege and an honor few people have in life. During one particularly long L&D shift, a nurse asked me if I had previously worked as a doula. Flattered, I just smiled and said, “No but I’ve been to a lot of yoga classes.” Using my hands to deliver a baby and lay him onto his mother’s belly, I scarcely noticed any of the mess around me. This was raw, perfect beauty in real life. This experience undoubtedly brought me to a new personal limit and challenged the way I thought of myself as a future doctor.
The drastic difference between the way I anticipated this rotation and the way the rotation actually unfolded is unfortunately common in my life. In reflecting back on the patience and encouragement that I exhibited with the laboring mother, I am reminded to extend the same openness to myself and to this dynamic educational process I am experiencing.