Do Doctors Ever Get Squeamish?

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    Do med students and doctors ever get squeamish? I want to be a doctor but I’m a little wary of all the messy stuff. I dont get sick I just get kinda nervous and bothered. Do you just get over it?? Or is it that most people who become doctors never had a problem with it?


    I get squeamish all the time! I’m ok if I’m the one doing the procedure, but watching others I find very hard. The only thing I haven’t been able to do is remove fingernails–I saw 2 and almost passed out each time! I remember others in my class feeling like this, too–a few even passed out in the OR! The good news is that there are many specialties where you don’t have to deal with the “gross” stuff–like radiology or psychiatry–so if you start and find you can’t hack it, all is not lost!


    I used to get that way in med school and early on in residency. I wasn’t getting grossed out but was just woozy when patients would moan and groan in pain. For instance, if a patient was getting stitches and started yelling out, screaming in pain, I’d feel like I was going to vagal out (pass out). I just couldn’t stand to see someone in pain. With time I realized that even though some of the things we have to do to patients are painful, we really are helping them. It just took time. Don’t let that keep you from being a doc. It happens to most of us!! That just means you’re a sensitive being–that’s a GOOD thing!!


    i got squeemish with my first toe removal. I didn’t pass out but I got vasovagal.

    Now I only get squeemish when I de-skin the chicken before preparing for dinner. I can’t prepare chicken anymore, my husband has to do it.


    oh, and the first day or two of anatomy lab. definately got squeamish but not close to passing out. it’s just not normal to see cadaver’s so the first day or so is an assault to one’s senses.


    I definately got squeamish on the first few days of anatomy lab. working with cadavers is pretty surreal. I now wonder if I’ll ever get squeamish ever again…it got pretty gross in there towards the end but you’ll stop noticing it. I also got vasovagal the first time I visted an OR (as an undergrad) and thought that I’d never be able to go to medical school because of it (I thought that something was wrong with me!). of course I found out that nothing was wrong and I actually ended up writing my med school essay about that.


    don’t lock your knees while holding a retractor for endless hours in a warm and stuffy OR…

    I can get squeamish with smells but am OK when I am involved and busy. Watching my first autopsy was a challenge….


    I was the one who passed out in anatomy lab. I didn’t even believe in fainting until I did it. It really wasn’t a squeamish thing, though; I think it was so hot in there and horrible fumes and poor air circulation primarily.

    My friend started out in internal medicine and switched to psychiatry after her first year, in part because she couldn’t get over the impulse to run away at the sight of blood.

    The only thing that really icks me out in a truly visceral way is toenail removals. Can’t stand it, don’t want to be there for it; it’s worse to me than people vomiting or coughing up great green goobers or doing procedures or anything else. Fortunately I can usually avoid this.

    The second nastiest thing is having to examine REALLY obese people with fungal infections in skin folds. You always have to really PUSH on the pannus to get it out of the way and then your face is right in this cheesy stinky mess. Smells get me more than visuals. Hope no one is too disgusted by my description.


    As someone who’s seriously considering a career change into medicine, my question is, should I take the fact that I’m kind of squeamish when it comes to certain things as a “sign” that I shouldn’t be a doctor?

    I feel I have the motivation, desire, time, etc. to become a doctor, but I still have to look away when a Discovery Channel-type show features a surgery up close. Or even the bloodier parts of “Extreme Makeover” or “ER”. I don’t think it’s blood itself that bothers me, but the situation of surgery or extreme injury.

    Before taking the leap to try for med school, I want to make sure I can handle all aspects of being a doctor. Should I let this stop me?


    Repeated exposure to something will help you get over it… at least that is my opinion and my experience.

    My first reaction might be “Ick, I can’t do that — but then curiousity, or determination kicks in and I get over it.

    My dad trained me as a dental assistant when I was 13 (many, many moons ago 🙂 ). At first the blood was too much, but I got use to it and would look forward to anything out of the normal routine of what I considered boring tooth filing.

    I always figure whatever I see can be washed off, washed out, etc.

    If you really need to know, take a job in a nursing home. If you can deal w/ that (IMHO) you can deal w/ anything…again, my opinion. (And I absolutely love and respect the elderly — where I want to work!)

    Gene QueenGene Queen

    I can’t be in the room when someone is vomiting. I’ve always been like that. There was a time when I couldn’t listen to it either, but I’m a bit better now. I dread putting in NG tubes because I don’t like the gagging sound. Actually I’ve gotten away with not putting in any so far!


    So far in 13 years as a nurse, there have only been a few things that REALLY got to me.

    The first was when I was a nursing student and a large patient bled to death rectally in front of me and I felt totally helpless.

    The next was whenever I have been pregnant, I could not handle my patients vomiting. Other times I was fine, but not when pregnant (thank God we won’t have any more of that!).

    The next was having to witness two abortions (14-16 week D&E’s). Normally on our unit we don’t do them and we always get the option to be involved or not…except when we are in charge. So, in the past 11 years I don’t think they ever did any AB’s, but, of course, within two weeks of me starting charge duties, we had two life-threatening situations that required that intervention.

    And the thing that gets me EVERY time is SNOT! I can’t handle ANYONE’s snot…not mine or my kids or anyone’s. Someone said something about a nursing home…..I concur. The amount of times I lost it while using a yanker suction I cannot count. :rolleyes:

    Anyway, it doesn’t make you a bad healthcare professional to be human! Everyone has something that will send them running to the porcelain god (or at least feeling queasy). Don’t let that deter you….it’ll give you something fun to talk about in later years. 😉


    I have a terrible habit of telling patients to stop describing gross things, because they are getting too graphic. I don’t know what they think of that! 😮

    Another really bad thing is elderly, uncirc’d men who won’t keep themselves clean, like in the nursing home. And I did almost puke taking off a toenail while I was pregnant.


    Toenails ugh… I do them now but yuck, red eyes double yuck, everytime I work in our outpatient clinic I end up plucking, scraping etc something off/out of someone’s cornea!!


    okay you guys are discussing stuff i never even really though of. in anatomy lab. i wans’t sqeuamish but was grossed out. we had to turn my cadaver over and the air shifted and he basically farted blowing out i guess feces. the entire group-5 of us- jumped back in unison and screamed! :rotfl:
    other than that with the micro parasite section i was pretty grossed out and in path it is funny to me how they call the macropscopic samples “gross”. i say to myself- yeah that’s gross alright!! :rotfl:
    one last thing. i read on student doctor net how someone had a homelss patient in the er and told the man to take off his socks. they turned around to get something and turned back to the atient and asked him to take his socks off again. then he realized that the patient HAD taken his socks off- his feet were covered with maggots!!!! 😮

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