Monday, March 14, 2005

On Isolation and Mudfuds on the Web

Blogborygmi has compiled a list of fellow mudphuds (mudfuds) on the web. You might notice the discrepancy in spelling. At my school, MD/PhD students are generally referred to as MuDPhuDs. However, I was unable to get, so I went with the alternative, MudFud.

Nick suggests that one reason MD/PhD students seem to be overrepresented in the medical blogosphere is that md/phd students don't seem to "fit in" with the rest of their md or phd students. I'd have to say that, though I'm not sure this sense of isolation is why I blog, there is definitely a sense of isolation that comes from being an md/phd student. Part of it is that while the first year md/phd class is relatively close, we all got a chance to meet each other well before orientation ever began. Consequently, when those first initial friendships were forming within the rest of the medical school class, we tended to stick together, and probably didn't meet as many people. On a similar note, while having an office is a big plus, it means that we are less likely to be found hanging out in the cafeteria or R&R. Because we are exempt from certain graduate school requirements, there is less opportunity to meet fellow PhD students during orientation or intro classes. And, when an MD/PhD student enters the traditional third year of medical school, they are entering a class of students that have already grown and developed together for 2 years. And, although I'm probably overgeneralizing, I find that most mudfuds are more of a "big picture" or "global thinking" type, rather than of the average "neurotic premed" type. There is always a desire to know more, to reach for a better understanding, and to try and find a better way (this desire seems to be lacking in some of my md "gunner" classmates.)

Obviously, we do have a lot of support within the MD/PhD program both from students and administrators, but being a different program manifests difficulties in all number of ways.

When it was time to get our student ID's, only about half of ours worked properly. When I needed to order a key for the office, it took me a month to "prove" that I was actually a student. Because we are listed seperately in the medical school directory, the first year md/phd students weren't included on the students listserve for over three months (until one of us realized we were missing something) so we missed out on study guides that were sent out, notices for certain events, and even a couple jokes. There is always some uncertainty as to what requirements we have to take care of (generally, in terms of paperwork and such.)

Perhaps I blog and read other's blogs to get a sense of what I should/could be doing with my education, and of course to stay abreast of current topics. I think that Nick got it right when he said,"But why all these new MD/PhD students? I'd like to say that the same qualities that lead one to seek a physician-scientist training program also drive one to blog -- a good mix of analysis and articulation, and a familiarity with explaining things to disparate groups." I blog because I want a forum to analyze things, if only to get my views straight in my own head. I read other blogs because I want to know what others are thinking, and what I can do to make myself a better physician scientist, and even a better person. I blog because I like my study breaks to be stimulating in some way or another (if I totally veg out, I'm done with studying!) I see myself working in academia some day, and so I believe that if I've taught one reader something, or helped them to look at a topic in a different light, I've accomplished something as an educator, and I know that practice make's perfect (or at least better.) I also blog because I tend towards insomnia, and well, there isn't much good television on at 2 am. On that note, I'm going to attempt to get some much needed zz's....