Med school is an exercise in being humble. Most of us have been the best at many things before now. We’ve been in the top of our classes and the leaders of many organizations. We’re used to being smarty-pants-know-it-alls. Not anymore. I’m completely comfortable not being one of the smartest, highest achieving people in my class. I’m surrounded by extremely smart people and the fact that I made it here is enough for me – most of the time.

I’ve mostly gotten over that feeling of, “wow, I didn’t know that, how could I not know that, I must be the dumbest person in med school, they’re going to find out and kick me out.”  Usually, I embrace the fact that it’s all about learning, and if I already knew this stuff, I wouldn’t need to be here.

But sometimes, I still feel dumb.  They throw so many new words at us without explanation, and usually I look them up (on Wikipedia of course), but sometimes I just make erroneous assumptions about what they mean even when it doesn’t make any sense. For example, I thought uveitis was inflammation of the uvula until yesterday. This doesn’t especially make a lot of sense, except that words sound similar – which means nothing in medicine.  I only made the connection yesterday because a professor was naming the symptoms of sarcoidosis and pointed to eyeballs when he said “uveitis.*” So I looked it up later and felt a bit dumb.

I can just imagine having a conversation like this next year with an attending:

“What’s a symptom of Sarcoidosis?”
“Inflammation of the uvula.”
“Sorry, what?”

*Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, the “uvea,” but may refer to anything in the interior of the eye. Thank you Wikipedia.


  1. LOL Just from the Uvi in the title, I thought of the uvula.

    The only reason why I know what it is, is because there's a trigger point on it that will cure hiccups.

    I always wondered how Dr. Travell (who developed neuromuscular therapy) tested out its efficacy. Did she numb the throat? Were there patients who preferred the hiccups to the treatment?

    In my NM therapy classes, it was optional to have your uvula treated. I opted out.