Saturday, October 17, 2009

Travel and training

A few days from finishing the first rotation of my fourth year, I feel I should pause and consider. I am finishing a month of family medicine clinic - which was really a lot of reading time and a little clinic - a schedule for which I am amazingly thankful. Because they allowed me some free days I have been able to study for boards, sleep, and go back to having a normal life.

I have also had the privilege of remembering why I really do love family medicine - the variety of ages, genders, family structures, pathologies. I can't get bored, which is good since I tend toward it anyway.

I continue to plan residency interviews - truly surprised at how many I have been offered. I admit to overwhelming underconfidence where this is concerned, but I didn't expect to hear so quickly. The first programs didn't wait for grades or all my letters of rec. I have scheduled at University of Minnesota (x3), Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Cincinnati, University of Pittsburgh, Tufts, Palmetto Health in SC and am waiting for dates at University of Louisville and Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee.

Step 2 CK on Thursday and then I am free of exams until February (I think). One weeks until psychiatry AI. Looking forward to it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

And so it begins

I am now officially one week into fourth year which means, for anyone keeping track, that I am 75% doctor. What else does this mean? - Well, that I have eight rotations to finish in seven months, two boards exams to take in the next three weeks, residency to apply for, interview for, and try not to freak out about among other things in my non-medical school life.

First, third year. It's over. 'Nuff said. I am not going back to that, ever. I truly hated five months of it, the rest was actually fine. If I had to specialize in what I did those five months, I'd quit. Without regard for debt or self-worth. I would quit medicine. Without regret.

Luckily, I don't have to do either of them. Which brings us to residency applications. ERAS - the bane of fourth year existence. That which keeps fourth year from being quite the mythical promised land that classes before us have waved as taunts. I dutifully took time away from surgery studying to work through the application, find letter writers, write personal statements. Last weekend, I completed the mad dash through finishing it, so I could get the application posted. On Monday I submitted the application and on Wednesday morning I posted my personal statement (thanks to family and friends who obediently read not one, but two, drafts). Then I sat back to enjoy my family medicine clinic rotation and await November when my Dean's letter is submitted and the interview offers trickle in.

How laughably delusional and naive I apparently am. After submitting my personal statement at 10 am on Wednesday, I received an email about noon from one of my programs. I thought, how mice off them to let me know they got my stuff. WRONG! I mean, they did let me know, but then, THEY OFFERED ME AN INTERVIEW. Got that? Within three hours of finishing my application I had an offer. From a program I like. That has, by the way, been followed by five more since. I am stunned and completely excited. I have heard from three of my favorite programs. I can't believe it. Within four days of putting my application up. Wow.

The list so far (all categorical FM right now - I won't hear from the combined for a bit):

University of Cincinnati/Christ Hospital
Tufts University
Medical College of Wisconsin - St. Joseph's Hospital
University of Pittsburgh - St. Margaret's Hospital
Aurora Health - Milwaukee (I'm turning this one down - it's a funny subject for a later post)
University of Minnesota - I don't know which program yet

Saturday, September 12, 2009


So, I just finished two weeks on neurosurgery. It was fun. Not nearly as much fun as general surgery, but I found something to like in it.I could have used a bit more guidance from the people in charge as to what to do and where to be, ah well.

Yesterday, during my last surgery on this rotation, the chief resident and the surgeon decided to actually be chatty. The surgeon wanted to make sure I understood that family medicine and psychiatry are both pointless because you have to talk to people and that patients are always failures at taking care of themselves so you needlessly ask the same questions over and over (are you taking your meds? etc.). Also, that there are two kinds of people in the world - those who want to be neurosurgeons and those who haven't realized it yet.

I told him, quite frankly, that I do not want to be a neurosurgeon and that he most certainly does not want me to be a neurosurgeon. Caught him completely off guard and he started laughing in the middle of surgery. So did the chief. Which led to a continued conversation in which we learned that the chief and I went to school together and know many of the same people. It got really pretty hilariously out of hand after that with the surgeon laughing at us both and the chief and I shooting the shit about everyone we knew in common from high school and where they are now.

I, also, got an evaluation this week that, among other things described me as "refreshingly candid and appropriately assertive." I have never heard such a good description of me.

Off to two weeks of ENT. Then finished with surgery and finally off to fourth year!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Worst fear....almost

The first choice that any medical student makes is usually medicine or surgery. And we joke that particular temperaments go with that choice. I knew when I started school that I would be medicine; I just don't see myself as a surgeon. I really do see myself as the doc who treats your chronic high blood pressure and heart disease and knows when your granddaughter graduates from kindergarten or the doc who delivers your baby, then takes care of mom, baby and dad besides. I never saw myself as wielding weaponry for the hack and slash of guts.

Here's the revelation. I love surgery. Who's surprised? Well, I was afraid of that - that I would find that I really like the OR, the cutting, the guts. I love the immediacy of patient relief after having a gallbladder out or the feeling of accomplishment when a patient's biopsy comes back showing you got their whole tumor out. It's a rush.

Now no worries. I am not changing my mind. I stand by family medicine/psychiatry. But if I were 25 or if I were single, I might change my mind right now. However, I took the time a couple years ago to really consider the type of life I want to lead and surgery isn't it. I can't stand the idea of five years or more of this schedule.

Besides, family practitioners get to cut! and deliver babies! and have long term relationships with their patients!

Whew - saved by the skin of my teeth!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Decision making capacity

Don't worryl I have not lost capacity. Nor have I lost sanity. Yet. But the big decision is looming. What to do with my life. Really the decision is made. Combined family medicine-psychiatry. I want to do both, hands down. I can't make up my mind.

Making that decision apparently causes everyone else in the whole friggin world to question my capacity. Not just "why do you want to do that?", NOOOOOOoooooo.

More like -

Why do you want to do family medicine?
Why do you want to do psychiatry?
Why do you want to do both?
Why not do internal medicine, med/peds, triple board....insert specialty here?
You don't need to study psychiatry - have my patients are head cases.

So here's the answers...

Why do you want to family medicine?

Because this, above all else, feels like the model of medicine that not only treats the whole person, but also considers the greater community outside. This is preventative medicine, acute care, peds, OBGYN, geriatrics, epidemiology, ongoing patient relationships. Because I adore children and old men and reproductive age women and teenagers and where else would I get to see all of those populations but in family medicine. Where else can I cut, counsel, prescribe, advise, recommend, befriend.

Why do you want to do psychiatry?

Admittedly, most doctors deal in some capacity with psychiatric issues. Some even spend time with med management. A lot fo pediatricians find themselves in the position of needing to be the main go to person for their patients psych issues. And I could do a lot of work with psychiatry as a family practitioner. But my desire to do psych is two fold. First, I love therapy and I think that people are reticent to try it when there is the possibility of a quick pharmaceutical fix. Who can blame them? Getting patients to do the work, find the introspection, change their lives to cope would be wonderfully fulfilling. Allowing patients the option to medicate appeals to me. Second, being able to treat my patients bodies and minds is highly appealing. A truly holistic approach to medicine.

Why do you want to do both?
Simply? I can't decide between them and I have the amazing opportunity to do both. More than that? Ultimately in addition to practice, I want to teach. I can think of nothing that would make me a better teacher than the combination of these two disciplines of medicine coupled with my experience as a teacher.

Why not do (insert specialty here)?

This is always a fair question. Only it never happens as an innocent query. Instead it is about pummeling me into choosing something else. Suck it up....

Internal Medicine - no kids
Med-Peds - no gyn
Triple Board - no adults, except in the psych part and three specialties in five years, scary
OBGYN - too much surgery for me
Neuro - need to ask? we haven't spoken in more than a year
Surgery - it's awesome and I would if I were younger

I won't lie. Making this decision was difficult. Every time I eliminated something, I made pros and cons. Then I mourned it's loss (except neuro). Then I moved on.

Now there's applications, personal statements, letters of rec, work, school, interviews to be done. And life to be lived. Let's go!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Internal Medicine

So one of my non-medical friends pointed out that all medicine is essentially internal medicine and wanted to know how Internal Medicine can be its own specialty. I know it is word parsing, but it is a good point. After four weeks of IM wards and a couple weeks of miscellaneous nonsense I have to wonder the same thing. Why do people choose Internal Medicine?

Perhaps for some it epitomizes the essence of doctoring. General care, chronic and scute illness. Perhaps for others it is the gateway to sub-specialization and more money. To me it is about disease focus instead of people focus. I don't get it.

For this reason, I am not loving that I have another eight weeks of it. I have only really disliked one rotation - and if I had to do that one for a living I would leave medicine. IM is coming close.

Maybe it's just senioritis.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I am alive. I am busy! And I am not living at home. All of these combine to keep me from writing regularly. I have a lot to say. Hopefully, I will find some time this week to get in on paper (figuratively).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Death and Taxes

On Saturday, J's brother texted (?!?!) to let us know that one of their friends was dying. A shock to be sure. We knew that things were amiss so to speak, but this was stunning. So we waited for the news which came on Sunday morning. J heads home tonight with another friend for the funeral.

Men their age are simply not supposed to die, especially suddenly and unexpectedly. He leaves a wife and daughter. I am so sad for them and for his parents and brother. We know them all. Ick.

My plans for Saturday had included filing my taxes, which I went ahead and did. Albeit, I tried to file with my SSN typed incorrectly, so they were rejected. I felt like a moron.

They say the only things in life that are inevitable are death and taxes. They shouldn't come in the same day. Ever.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kids DO Say the Darndest Things

I would rather poke red, hot needles in my eyes than pay attention to anything but the commercials during the Super Bowl. So here I am.

Tomorrow I start my family medicine month. Apparently, I volunteered to serve my month at a local practice, so I am going to be out on the other side of town. This means I will not be back at UK until April. Three months of being away from my school!! Yippee!

I learned a few things about myself during my peds months. First, kids rule. I haven't spent much time with small children since I ended my neighborhood babysitting monopoly in college. Kids are great! They are generally healthy, so it isn't super depressing (even on inpatient). But mostly they say hilarious stuff. For instance -

9 yo Pt: I heard that there are hospitals where, if you have a third ball, they can take it off.
Dr. Q: Do you mean testicle?
Pt: You know, balls, like down there.
Dr. Q: I have never seen a patient who has that.
Pt: My uncle does.

At this point, rather than bust a gut laughing I look at pt's mom who confesses that it is HER uncle who has the rather prolific reproductive anatomy. The doctor assured the pt that problems like that can be corrected. Then I left the room to laugh. I couldn't help it. The kid knew what he was doing. His mom didn't say anything about it. Hahahahahahahaha.

I have also learned that the biological clock is a real thing. Ugh. I know too many pregnant people and have seen far too many cute babies in the last two months. Save me.

Mostly, I have learned that I will not be practicing medicine that doesn't include children.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Calling in to work for me is like raising the white flag. Admitting defeat and the inability to simultaneously handle the eight million things I attempt to do (badly) on a daily basis. However, I realized I had become sicker than my patients and retreated. I found myself hoping that I had strep throat so that a quick, antibiotic solution could be found and I could be back to it ASAP.

No such luck. As I secretly suspected, I have a viral URI. The second one in three weeks. This is the only downside to working peds. Otherwise, I adore peds. In the end, I had to call in. I can't learn or treat patients when all I can physically do is cough.

This means that I had to slow way down. This drives me bananas. For all but five hours of the last two days, I have been in my house, alternately blowing my nose and coughing. Tonight, I am finally going more than 10 minutes between coughs. Quite the triumph. I am so ready to go back to work.

On the upside, my looking forward to work remids me that the time in coming to decide what I am going to do with my life. Ugh - another day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Keeping reappearances

So I have not, historically, had great success with friends. I could not describe anyone I went to high school with as a friend at the time, though I had a few from church. College was less of a struggle, but I still didn't feel like I had the social grace of so many people I knew. Or perhaps I am more choosy in how I differentiate between friends and acquaintances.

I think social networking in some ways undermines the concept of a friend. Because everyone we choose to associate ourselves with is a "friend", the word is broadened considerably. I don't mind that my fb friends have access to the information I post. Otherwise, I wouldn't post it. But, I definitely don't share everything on my facebook wall.

I can use fb to keep up with friends who are across the country and across the street. See pics of their lives, their kids (not sure how I feel about the ultrasound pics though).

This all being said, my favorite part is finding people on facebook who I thought I might never see again. A year and a half ago, I found a friend whose absence had created a huge void in my life - a void that I was in the process of learning to accept and has instead been filled by his presence. Ours has been a long, wonderful rediscovery.

Yesterday, I lucked into a good guess and found a friend from my very small college major. Hadn't talked to him in a little over ten years. Chatted like it was ten years ago. The fact life recap and then on to shared interests.

Many things about the last year and a half, for me, have been supremely lousy. Different post, different day. But reacquainting with old friends is marvelous.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Clean Slate

I am a certain percent there. We are all always a certain percent there - just depends on what you are looking at.

Today, I restart blogging with a clean slate. I am about 60% doctor, which was the original motivation for the title - to trace my progress in becoming a physician. This process is so all-encompassing that we seem to be required to become 110% physician at the expense of friends, family and previous lives.

I refuse.

Because I refuse to become a slave to my medical education and my desire to practice good medicine, I still have my friends from before medical school, I still have my marriage, I have found new friends. I am also not a straight A medical student, a gunner, a competitor.

The first time I tried to blog, I had nothing to say. Or I thought I had nothing to say. Now, I have a lot to say. Even if no one ever reads it. I hope someone does.