Thursday Born

The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Introversion and Medicine

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I’ve been meaning to do a long post about what it’s like to be an introvert in medical school. It comes with its own set of challenges, especially if you’re a really quiet introvert (like me), and even worse if you’re shy too (I’m not very shy in professional contexts). But I don’t think I’m going to get around to one big post, so I’m just going to try to remember to post about it every now and then.

I just finished my four weeks on Outpatient medicine, and the Doctor I worked with was very social. When I followed him around the hospital, he was always saying hi to people: janitors, nurses, administrative people, etc. I think he’s also the Director of his division, so some of it comes with the job, but he’s also just that sort of person. At the end of every heart catheterization, he would thank each of his support staff, and they always seemed genuinely happy when they realized he’d be working in their operating room that day.

His office partner, also a cardiologist, was quite different. He seemed like a nice, friendly guy, and he often poked his head in on occasion to chat (and often about life, not just about patients). He’s good to the office staff too, but he doesn’t socialize much outside of his office, apparently. On two or three occasions I heard people ask the doctor I was with about him, and mention that he doesn’t really smile much. I think he’s just new though, and probably takes a bit of time to warm up to people.

I’m not a chatty person, and I enjoy disappearing into my thoughts. I used to hate getting my hair done as a pre-teen because my mother would always complain that I would just read and not smile at the hairdressers or talk to them. I understand her point, especially now, but at the time I didn’t want to be there in the first place, and it was tolerable because I just read throughout the experience and stayed in my own little world.

But I make an effort to be pleasant.  Especially in the hospital, but I also extend this to life in general. I’m not going to suddenly turn into the kind of person who talks to everyone about anything, but I’m quick to smile and nod a hello. To at least acknowledge them and trade generic greetings. People notice these things, and they appreciate it.

Written by Aba

May 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Too true. I also used to read books at the hairdresser – still do, actually.

    I’m an introvert too, and a little shy. I like talking, but only once I’m comfortable. I noticed that greeting hospital staff while walking past them kind of brightens my day, but I get a little sensitive when they don’t greet back.

    I think my biggest problem with being shy in med school manifests more in class than in hospital. My colleagues tend to think I’m stuck-up when really I’m just not “out there”.

    Oh well.


    May 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    • It’s unfortunate when people interpret quiet as stuck up. =/ I’m pretty good at making small talk when engaged, and mostly just give off a very laid back and mellow vibe (so I’ve been told). I do tend to just sit in the back by myself during larger class events, unless there are seats available next to the small handful of people I like a lot and know very well.


      May 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

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