What I love About Being a Medical Student (Chicken Artichoke Pasta)

Hi, I’m back! Hopefully, I won’t have to disappear for that long again in the next year or so, unless I’m traveling and without internet connection. I’m excited to be able to post regularly again, with my own recipes highlighted on Tuesday and other people’s recipes highlighted on Friday (through June, that’ll be the 50 Women Game Changers of Food series.) I might also throw in a random blog post through out the week,: maybe a recipe I’m dying to share, a late 50 Women post, a short piece of writing (watch out, or you might start getting fiction and poetry), a new Happiness Is… or an update on some of the projects I’ve told you about over the years, like the medical library in Yemen or time spent in Samoa.

The 5am view. 

If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know that I talk (maybe complain?) a lot about the life of a medical student. You’ll also notice there are unplanned periods where I simply disappear from the web, and in that case, you know that my hours got very real, very fast (like this last disappearance? I was averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, and I’m not built for that. I really like my bed.) Unfortunately, that gives you a very lopsided view of being a medical student – the view of long hours, impatient supervisors and ungrateful patients. True, some of my days are like that, but the fact is, I’m in med school because I love it. Sometimes that’s hard to remember, but it was my choice to be here, and I absolutely know this is exactly where God wants me. There are the bigger things that make it obvious why I’m in medical school; the old cliches of ‘wanting to help people’ and ‘loving the mystery and art of an imprecise science.’ But let’s be honest, there are other, little things I also love about being a medical student. It’s a strange list, running from the predictable to the downright silly.

— Scrubbing into an operation – not just the operation itself, but the actual act of standing at the sink and scrubbing my hands and arms for five minutes with antiseptic soap, rubbing disposable bristles across my palm and under every nail. Sometimes, I do this 8 or 10 times a day, so I also now carry lotion with me everywhere I go. Did you know that praying through the rosary is almost exactly the right timing for a scrub? I learned that this Lent when I started praying a Lutheran Rosary for the first time.

— Walking a critical patient down the hall to a test or a new floor or the OR. The anesthesiologist is at the head of the bed, the resident at the side, and I’m at the foot. Monitors are beeping, wires are flying, and people flatten themselves against the wall as we pass. It’s just like being in a movie, only real.

— Being called doctor by ancillary staff. I’m not one yet, but those mistakes remind me where I’m going. The respect people have for my profession is humbling and when it drips down onto me, the lowly medical student, it can outweigh the worst pimping from an attending. “Let me hold the elevator for you, doc.” Thanks, you just made my day.

— Making the call. The first time this happened that I remember, I wasn’t even in the hospital. I was visiting a friend at work, and someone injured herself. I cleaned the wound while we were waiting for the staff EMT to arrive, and when he did, he deferred to me for advice. It was strangely flattering and oddly terrifying. I had just started my third year, and really, figured I was just an EMT myself. (I worked as an EMT prior to med school, and EMTs have far more practical knowledge and experience that most 1st or 2nd year med students, as we learn basic and clinical science those first two years, and not actual skills. Whenever I volunteered at events for those first two years, I always went as an EMT-useful, instead of as a preclinical med student-notuseful.) When the staff EMT said it was my call, it was giddily terrifying – it’s *never* the med student’s call. There’s always someone more senior. But out there, away from the hospital, I was the expert, and I made the call. (And just in case you were wondering, I made the right call.)

— A patient trusting me. When I tell a patient it’s going to be okay, that their medication is safe, that this is the food they should eat, and they trust me? That’s pretty cool. I mean, yeah, I’ve been studying towards this for 8 years now, but still? You trust me? Thanks. I’m trying to do what’s best for you.

— Swiping my ID and getting buzzed into secure areas. Basically, it just makes me feel like a secret agent or a ninja or something cool. My real dream in life is to be Nikita, and my hospital ID is the closest I get to breaking into Division.

— Getting something done that no one else got done. Yes, I got those bloods from that patient who refuses lab draws. I bribed him with a glass of water. (True story.) Yes, I got our patient to MRI. I flirted with the tech until he agreed to take her, and then I drove her stretcher down and held her hand for an hour while she got the test, because she refused to go in unless she had a hand to hold. Yes, I wrote those three discharge summaries while you were in that surgery, because they needed doing. Yes, I cleaned up that patient’s diarrhea, because I couldn’t find the nurse. Please, just let me be useful, and occasionally, let me be wily in navigating a crazy hospital system, and I will be happy.

I will also be happy when I go home and find this pasta in the fridge. Really, I should credit R~ with this masterpiece, because I made her stir together random things in the fridge one night for dinner, and this is what appeared. This is a simple, quick pasta that I can easily make with things I regularly keep in my fridge – chicken, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and pesto. It is also a flavor explosion. R~ or I have made this at least half a dozen times over the past few months, and since we cook a pound of pasta at a time, that means we’ve probably eaten this twenty times apiece. 

Of course, this would be enjoyable with some blanched asparagus spears or a few fresh peas, or made with your favorite sage-walnut pesto, but it’s a fantastic dish as written.

Feed Others: Add in a quick bread, a snappy salad, and toss in a few cookies for dessert and you’ve got meal for company! Or put it in a tupperware, heat it in the decrepit microwave on the floor at the hospital, and make your coworkers jealous. Either way.

Chicken Artichoke Pasta
Serves 6-8. Allow 30 minutes.

1 pound penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup basil pesto
1 cup feta, chunked
Parmesan, for garnish

Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add the oil, then the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain, and return to the pot. Add in the other ingredients, and stir until well mixed. Serve with additional feta or with freshly grated parmesan.

Posted from: New York

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This entry was posted in Comfort Food, Main Plates, Med Student Life, New York, Quick and Easy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What I love About Being a Medical Student (Chicken Artichoke Pasta)

  1. MeghanM says:

    YUMMY.and I love hearing about your med school escapades

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