Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tips for surviving the first half of intern year.

Before I get to my tips for surviving intern year, I would like to say "Hello blog-world!" and sorry for ignoring you for so long. As you can imagine starting residency has been overwhelming, stressful, chaotic, responsibility overload... and amazing! Expectations are now set by me so that I, the MD (still not used to saying that!), can take care of patients as best as possible. There are no longer thoughts of "oh I need to make a good first impression at this hospital for the month" like elective rotations were in 4th year; now my thought process is more along the lines of "I need to exude a sense of confidence to instil calmness and trust from my patients" all the while internally making a mental list of all the topics I need to review so I can act appropriately when I see a non-reassuring fetal heart tone. 
No Big Deal. 


Talk about motivating factors to study and learn, patients are number one. Being able to sign my name to a patient means I am the one responsible for their care and that is the largest driving factor to all the chaos that comes with the first six months of intern year... at least for me.


1. Coffee. this needs no further explanation!
2. Develop a support system and trust in your co-workers
  • it's an experience like this forms a strong bond fast. Experiencing the stressors that come with the first month, there's nothing like it and no one that can relate more to you than those who are or have gone through it... just to name a few: getting lost in the hospital trying to find a patient room, learning to navigate the EMR system, signing my first prescription, introducing myself as Dr. __ instead of 'just a medical student' (we have all done it) to knowing when to get help and when to talk about it. In the last 6 months I have made mistakes and learned from them.. and still learning. 
3. Sleep 
  • you cannot function without it, and you have to function 110% all the time when you are on the clock. Setting a good routine is key and prioritizing tasks is even more important now. 
4. "me" time
  • time to unwind whether that is laying on the couch and watching netflix or going to the gym or meeting up with friends for dinner. This is a requirement and has always been one for me to keep a balanced life. Residency has made it difficult to set this time apart sometimes but Im working on it -- unfortunately, as important as blogging has become for me these past few years, it had to be put on hold so I can get proper bearings of my new life.
5. Be realistic
  • If you have been reading my blog for a while you may have picked up on the idea that I am the type of person who is interested in too many things and tends to dabble in too much, sometimes. I am trying to pull the reigns back and focus and limit my extracurricular activities (i.e. research projects, committee membership) as much as possible for intern year. My goal for this year is to become comfortable taking care of uncomplicated OB and GYN patients and to have a clear understanding of the standard guidelines of care. This seems like an easy enough task, right? I have been somewhat successful in not getting too involved!
6. Be easy on yourself
  • I am my hardest critic. This has always been true. Expectations are set and when I come short of them I am resilient quite quickly. What I have learned, thanks to a couple attending physicians that I work with, is that it is not the time in which we recover from a mistake but how we learn from it and improve. As medical students we teach ourselves how to become "removed" from a patient and their family, how to depersonalize, but it all comes down to how to you deal with mistakes, losses and failures. The questions that were unanswered as medical students now can have serious implications on patient care. So one of the most important things I have learned is that there is a reason you work as a team with senior residents - always ask questions when you are unsure, there is a patient's life behind those decisions and you will not get judged for asking them. 
This is a work in progress, but I welcome all feedback. I'd love to hear from other physicians about their experience....

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Everyone should travel

I sit by a wood burning fire place with a cup of hot tea and spanish guitar music playing in the background, I am atop a mountain overlooking the city of Otavalo in Ecuador. This is the last stop of my 2 month traveling extravaganza and I have decided that everyone should travel.
why, you ask?

why not!?!

In the last 2 months I have developed memories, have had experiences, listened to stories of locals and fellow traveler, learned about and stepped foot on historical places, have had spiritual moments and times of inward reflection in churches and temples alike, rode elephants, slept in a hill tribe village,.... the list seems to be never-ending. But what I loved the most was meeting strangers. As silly as that sounds it was one of the best parts of my travels. Connecting with people from around the world and listening to their own experiences and what path they had taken to get to that specific moment was just fascinating. I realized how much I do not know and how much I have yet to experience and learn about the world, about how people live and think. Once I started talking to others it become evermore clear that we all tend to get stuck into a daily routine and forget to stop, observe, contemplate and breathe. We, myself included, start making excuses for not being able to travel. I met so many people of all ages (18 - 75) that had quit their job or took a 'gap year' or simply moved to a different country and just travelled while working random jobs along the way. I felt myself become jealous of those 'free spirits' - no plans, just living in the present and being open to new cultures and ways of life. Now, yes, it does take a certain type of person to be able to do that and I think I can be one of those people as a short term (1-3 years) plan because I believe I will miss world of academia and the challenges and type of learning that comes with it.

My trip was nothing short of spectacular and here are a couple of pictures to take you through my journeys, memories, and learnings.
Lahu Hill Tribe hike overnight
accommodations in a hand built bamboo hut.

the day I got blessed by a monk.
Such a special temple in northern Thailand

Lahu Hill Tribe 2 Day Hike, thailand
Monkey sanctuary in Bali


Ko Phi Phi Island, Thailand.

Sunrise hike up Mt Batur, one of Indonesia's active volcanoes.

Mt. Batur, Bali, Indonesia. 

the moment I officially became a doctor!
Unbelievably grateful for my parents' never ending support and encouragement through this journey.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dream came true.

This post has been a work in progress since match results came out last friday. Be warned it is lengthy!

To spare the suspense... I MATCHED and best of all, I matched at my first choice program!
Beginning July I will be an ObGyn resident :) The week of match results was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. I had to read that email over and over again because I could not believe my eyes. I had known how competitive my first choice program had been based on the interview day (20 candidates per spot). I don't think the news has quite sunk in yet although I am knee-deep in paperwork, contract signing, visa arrangements and apartment hunting!!

BUT let's back up to the Match process since I promised to give out my advice as best as I could for those of you getting ready for the 2016 Match.

"The Match"

I won't go through a timeline since that can be found quite easily on the NRMP website. However, there is a timeline that is important to factor in as a 4th year medical student. For ease of reading and not to make this post super long here's my advice and things I have learned from going through the process

4th year - electives:

  • great way to showcase your potential and what you have to offer to a program - as well as see how good a fit the program is for you. I always thought of electives as a two-way interview because it is important for you to love the program as well. 
  • Try and set up electives in the specialty you will be applying to before the September application day. This is for two reasons: 1) programs want to see a letter of recommendation from a preceptor in their given specialty 2) being in fourth year gives you much more responsibility and offers your letter writer a chance to assess you on a different level than when you were just starting clinical rotations.
  • Electives/ sub-interships in your given speciality of interest are important however try and do various other electives in things you may be interested in or have some sort of connection to that specialty. Shows you are well rounded, gives you a chance to learn more and also gives you the option to applying to two specialties if one is more competitive. i.e.. ER, heme/onc and female adolescent psych are ones I did for Ob/Gyn.
application, interviews and rank list:

  • Do your research on the programs you would like to apply to. There are several sources you can use. FRIEDA is great; also the dedicated specialty committees (i.e. APGOAAFP) usually have a list of the accredited programs. 
    • Decide what is important to you... location? community vs university? fellowship oriented? class size?. This will help narrow down the programs. However the most important advice I received was "be realistic" apply to all programs that have taken candidates from your school and other caribbean schools. (there's no list of these, you have to search each individual program's website). Don't narrow down your choices even before applying - you can attend the interviews and if the program is truly not for you then do not rank it. I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of the programs that didn't look great online. Also, apply to those "reach" programs - those programs where you would love to go but don't think you have a chance... you never know.
  • Start your personal statement NOW! I know it's early but it's a hard one to write and it will keep changing as you go through 4th year. My advice for this one is "make it you", don't worry if it's not what you think they expect; this is what programs have to get to know you aside from your credentials and your volunteer work. Talk about what is important to you, what are your passions? what are your quirky hobbies? Why should they choose you?
  • Be ready to submit the application on the day it opens. Have your USMLE Step 2CS and CK scores in before this date. Be sure everything is already uploaded on ERAS prior to that day. Select all the programs you intend to apply to before that day so all you have to do is click submit.
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 per specialty as a minimum. Some programs will not look at your application until those 3 letters are submitted. You may add a 4th along the way (say you did an important elective in August and the letter is not ready in time, once its uploaded you can send it to the desired programs as an extra)
  • Be prepared to spend money. Thousands - for the application and the interview travels. You've already invested money in this journey, this is not the time to cut down. Go all in so you only need to go through the match once. (this is for the IMGs mostly - US students tend to apply to 30 or so programs. IMGs apply to 80+ programs per specialty usually). 
    • The saying is that IMGs get 1 interview for every 10 or so programs they apply to. 
    • A good interview number to have for IMGs is 7-10 from what I've heard. Although there is also a caveat because it really only takes one interview to make a lasting impression - with that said the more interviews I had the more confident I felt about matching.
      • I had a total of 12
  • Be present on interview day. What I mean with this is be observant, be yourself and ask questions! Questions show interest and also, again, this is a two-way interview. You are trying to also decide if that is the right place for you. Be aware of how the residents interact with each other, with the attending, with the ancillary support staff. Do the staff/nurses/PAs/ medical students look happy? Also pay attention to the other candidates they are you get along with them? would you want to work alongside them? I think the types of candidates they interview also speaks to what a program is looking for.
    • This goes without saying but, just in case, prepare for the interview! There are basic questions that can be asked and you should have an idea of how your answer will be... i.e.. Why this program/city/specialty? Tell me a little about yourself? (don't be afraid to repeat things from your application. Sometimes the people interviewing you are not the same ones who looked through applications). How do you respond to stress/conflicts/disagreements?
    • Remember that at the interview stage you are now on the same level as any of the other candidates. Your personality, character and the way you interact throughout the day is what is really important. They know you have the credentials, now the program wants to know if they can work with you (are you teachable?).
  • Rank the programs according to YOUR preference. Disregard what you think they are ranking you. The algorithm is in favour of the candidate (here is a better explanation). Also rank only the programs that you are willing to train at because it is a binding contract. The caveat to that is to think long and hard before not ranking a program... would you rather not match at all then go train there?
I hope all that helps and answers most of your questions about the process! It is stressful and not going to lie, insane! But completely worth it to see that email in your inbox. 

Dream came true.

On another note since I don't begin residency until July and I am finished with medical school I will be traveling South East Asia for 5 weeks and then a 2 week stint in Ecuador! Cannot wait to roam the world for the next two months.... not that I haven't been doing that for the last 4 years, but this time it will be vacation!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A quick update!

First off, thank you so much for keeping connected!! I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while (everything is going great!) but I have tried to keep up with answering your comments and questions.

I stopped posting due to the interview/ match season that started in September. Interviews have recently wrapped for me and am currently teasing out the last of my rank order list. Then the waiting begins... which will be the hardest part I think.

For those of you unfamiliar with the process of a medical student obtaining a residency, here is the simplified version:

- finish four years of medical school
- apply to your desired specialty
- Sept-Feb: interview across the country (expenses are mostly out of pocket)
- Feb: create a list of the programs you interviewed at by preference of where you would like to train
- Match Week: basically a match up between the hospitals and the candidates (both form lists of who they would like) and the computerized algorithm "matches" you up. We find out if & where we are placed the week of March 16!

I promise to reflect on the entire process and give as much advice as possible once that Match Week is over.
Until then please feel free to post questions and other comments as I have been checking back regularly


PS. I have officially finished medical school rotations! Feels great to have hit such a milestone, but I think it will all sink in once I get that email in March. For now, I have decided to stick around Louisiana (where I finished my last two electives) to enjoy the culture and festivals of Mardi Gras before making the long road trip home for the last time!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


A little inspiration to get the wheels turning for this evening.

I just watched this TedTalk tonight and funny enough I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately with applications to residency around the corner.
There has always been that question lingering in the air when I talk to others about what residency specialty I have picked; that question? It is the one I always expect to get asked. "how hectic is the lifestyle?". Yet what they really want to ask is "will you have time for a family?" Unfortunately I have noticed that question gets asked a lot more toward the female medical students rather than the male - especially when their answer consists of a surgical specialty. I understand the concern but if you listened to the above talk you will already know what I am trying to get at...


Why can't it be a package where you have a great career working alongside what you are passionate of rather than having to chose between lifestyle and career? Im not saying it is easy. But if life was easy and decision making was straightforward, what would be the point in having interests and passions?

Can it be done?
Can you have a great career AND be a great parent AND a great friend AND a great spouse?


Unless you find your passion and try to not be afraid.

Thank you, Larry Smith, for being so blunt.
would love to hear anyone else's thoughts on this....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Senior Status

The moving has begun, again! If it was not yet apparent, as a caribbean med student we do not have a 'home' hospital like the students that attend an american school in the US. Thus all our clerkship rotations are at school affiliated hospitals found throughout the states - mostly the east coast, the south and some central states such as Georgia, where I am currently residing for a month. The third year core clerkship rotations, those that are required by every medical school to be completed, can usually be done in one if not two places so the student can decide if and how much they would like to travel. I went between Florida and Maryland if you recall. Talking to other caribbean students this has been a common path.

The 4th year is completely different.

It is the year when you try and narrow down your interests if you have not picked a specialty already. These clerkships are called elective rotations and each individual is responsible to make up their own schedule based on their interests. For us, that usually means we move around to different hospitals depending on what they offer, their availability and scheduling... I will not get into the stress of making up that said schedule because that's besides the point. Yet, I will say that it is not an easy feat!

I will say that I finally have my 4th year scheduled!
Since my last post I have finished two one month electives, one in Michigan and one in Baltimore, MD. I am currently in Atlanta, GA doing a family medicine elective and will be heading off to New York for two months and then Louisiana for the last two months of my medical school clerkships. It seems I have so little left before I get to have that status as an MD. Looking back I can see how the process has shaped who I have become as a senior medical student. Last month I went back to Harbor hospital, where I completed the required 3 month Internal Medicine rotation last year. I worked with a Hospitalist doctor as a senior student. During my stay a new group students started their third year - including some friendly faces from Saba! I have to admit that I noticed a significant difference. By which I mean that there was a comfort level of navigating around the hospital, approaching patients, speaking up during rounds etc. For me, there was an evident difference in the level of knowledge between myself and the starting third years... Now! Let me explain myself before you jump to any conclusions. What I mean is this: I now realized how much information I have absorbed in the past year (and of course, there is a ton I still have yet to learn). It is really astounding to see the difference in which I approach certain problems, diagnoses and questions thrown at me. I find myself not overwhelmed like I first felt in third year. The knowledge seems to have become a second nature sort-of response. Anyways, ignoring my ramblings, what I mean to say is that I have surprised myself at how far I have come in just one year. The process is gruelling and pushes you to your limits but it really does work! I have no doubt those third year students will go through the same realization when they reach 4th year.

Where am I now?
Applications to residency programs are a month away! Yes, you read that correctly. One month. If you have been following my journey from the beginning, can you believe it's been 4 years?!
All the required board tests have been taken - and passed!! I am now finalizing the programs I am applying to, which has become a very time consuming task, albeit important. The personal statement is written; but it may be re-written over and over again in the next month. As a blogger and a person who enjoys writing, the personal statement has been something so difficult to be 100% pleased with because it forces me to summarize my passions, goals and direction in life in just one page. One page?! I am almost tempted to write one line: "Dear Program Director, please read my blog".

In any case, the end is in sight! Although it won't be smooth sailing until next March (when we find out to which program we matched) I can say I will try to make the most out of my travels and experiences.

Here are some pictures of Atlanta so far. Never did I expect it to be such an 'artsy' place!

Now time to go explore more of Atlanta.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Losing, Time and Finding a way back

This is going to be a tremendously difficult one to write.

On Losing...

What becomes of a person when they are gone? Their memories stay within those lives they have touched. The life around them, that, unfortunately, does not stop. Everything keeps going. The bed is made. The night table holds their glass of water. Their reading glasses atop that unfinished crossword puzzle; the one they set their mind on finishing later that night. Only, now, it is two nights later. The crossword puzzle remains unfinished and the glass of water, is half full. Yes, half full, because half empty is too much to handle for right now... My glass will always try and be half full... The one bedroom apartment looks exactly like I remembered it. The bookcase of classic novels, poetry and art books. Pictures, neatly, splattered on the shelves as proof of their travels. Familiar faces all smiling back at me. It all felt the same, like they were about to walk in the door. Only that didn't happen; it really didn't feel the same because the people who walked in were in fact family, but there were no smiles. Only sadness and disbelief in their eyes reflecting back my own emotions. The hugs were never-ending, the conversations began with "remember when...." and there was never a shortage of food because that was their way of taking care of us. And it was nice to be taken care of when other things were on my mind. I looked over at my family and how we had come together once again, how nice it was to see everyone in Romania after 10 years of being away - although I would've given anything to not see them under these circumstances. I had flashbacks on the strength and resilience of my grandmother and the calmness wisdom of my grandfather and pushed through the emotions. A strong link to keep pulling my family forward towards a new day... one that seems so far away, one that I am sure has sunshine and smiling faces, one that I do not want to come just yet because that means all of this - the passing of my grandparents - is in fact reality. And yet we have no choice but to move on. I want time to stand still. To stand still last summer, when I was home for a weekend from clerkships and they were in Canada. The last time I hugged them, the last time I experienced my grandmother's amazing cooking and the last time I sat down with my grandfather and showed him how to work his new laptop. Those memories are the ones that bring an ever slight curve back on my lips.

It has been 3 months since I've been back and life has hurriedly put me back on course. I am finishing up my 4th year elective clerkships and am writing my last exams before applications for residency begins. I cannot believe that the time has almost come and graduation is around the corner. Although I feel that this has been a long enough road. I will write on my elective experiences and application process soon.

I needed the time off to gather my thoughts.
Time to find my way back from Romania, time to find my way back from the loss. I cherish to have been so lucky to be close to all four of my grandparents and am unfortunate to have to experience their loss all within a couple years.

They are all together now.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Rewards and Frustrations

I've been thinking about my reflection on the psychiatry elective I finished over 2 months ago for a while now. In my last post I was just about to start it ...For 3 weeks I worked in the adolescent female inpatient unit and it was definitely an unexpected experience. I went there with the thought that it will be a nice break from the rigorous clerkship rotations I have been through and a nice transition from studying at home to my current trauma surgery rotation in Florida.
I was wrong and realized something about myself in the process.

I enjoyed my 6 week rotation last year which is why I decided to come back and work in another unit. Adolescent girls I thought would be a great fit - I can relate and it will help in my long term goal to work and advocate for women's health. I fit into the treatment team right away. The social workers, unit staff and my supervising attending all cared for their work and put in long hours. There was no real structure for me to follow which is great because it let me explore working with different people on the unit - from social workers holding family meetings to art and musical therapists. It was really up to me how much I wanted to invest. As I've said before, I learn best by experiencing, so I got involved as much as possible. I started getting to know the girls, their histories, their personalities, how they interact, their families … it was interesting in terms of psychiatry and applying the things we learn in books to real life situations… but also heart breaking to read about their life experiences at just 12 years old. By my second week, the attending doctor encouraged me to take time and talk to some of the girls one-on-one. I did.

I was taught how important 'active listening' is as a skill. We were told about it in my 4th semester on Saba but not until now do I really understand what our prof was trying to tell us. Daily one-on-one sessions with some of the girls were amazing. They began sharing and opening up about their past; stories that weren't even in their social work reports. I was so happy to be able to have an honest discussion … to hear them out, never judging, that's really what they were looking for...but emotionally it was hard. Very hard. The movies about street kids from broken families surrounded by drugs, abuse and prostitution; girls being bullied because of their appearance to the point of harming themselves - unfortunately they are true. These girls have experienced life's hardships at such a young age that they grew up. Fast. What did surprise me was their strength, and resilience - two things that were not obvious when I participated in the group sessions. Most of the girls seemed so different talking to me than in the group. I learnt about their dreams and aspirations and then, in a split second, heard them shutting down those ideas because "it's not possible". That was difficult to swallow. As a person, I am an optimist (if you haven't figured that out yet!); so I asked "why?, why can't you?". their answer was even harder to understand, but it was the truth… "I have no support." " No one cares."  "I have to take care of my siblings."  "I have to provide for my family." Now, I am generalizing as not all the girls were in the same situations… but these were some of the answers I did hear.

I realized how important a nurturing, supportive environment is as a child. Having a family that cares enough to ask about getting homework done, to insert those (sometimes annoying) reminders to clean.. we've experienced them, and they come from our loved ones. But that is support; support that most of these girls were missing.

This elective made my final decision to not apply to psychiatry. NOT because I didn't like it. It's actually the complete opposite. I had the hardest time separating my emotions from acting as their doctor. We are taught about professionalism in the oath we take. As doctors, we are not a patient's friend and I completely understand that. In all my other rotations it is a clear line. In psychiatry, it became very blurred for me. I emotionally invested in my one-on-one sessions. Came up with ideas and ways to talk about difficult topics… and they worked. Great! But I went home and took their stories to heart. I could not separate the medicine from myself. At the end of my rotation, the attending pulled me aside and said I would become a great psychiatrist one day.
I'm sure, in time, I'd learn how to draw that line but I don't want to go through 2, 3 or 4 years bearing all that emotional turmoil with me when I get home. This may sound selfish but I think its the best thing for my own health and my ability to treat my patients.
As medical students we've either said it or heard it: psychiatry is not 'real' medicine. There are never clear cut answers; everything meshes together to provide an emotional response. And, as students, we all have that one thing which we cannot deal with in medicine - whether it be skin rashes, broken bones, surgery or delivering babies. For me, mental health is where it becomes the hardest. I can stand in the OR for 6 hours. I can deal with stabilizing a trauma patient after they got shot. I can stay up for 30+ hours without coffee. I can look at an open abdomen and see the medical complexity and not the patient. Yet, talking to someone through their emotional turmoil, hearing about their past, yes, I can do it. Yes, I can be good at it. Yes, it's very natural for me to just listen. But it's been one of the hardest things for me to go through.

Hats off to anyone who works in the mental health system, I now partially understand the hardships you experience.

Part of a letter I received from one of the girls on my last day of the elective. It's in a safe place to always remind me of my experience and how much they taught me.  

PS. the video is a spoken word poem by Sarah Kay. I found it a great way to reach out and discuss those difficult topics. Needless to say I learnt a lot more amazing poetry slams from the girls… they were very familiar with it!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Back to the start, yet moving forward.

As I sit in yet another airport awaiting my connecting flight, I'm embarrassed to see I've only posted 7 times this year... but I will stop with the apologies and just accept it. I hope to continue my sporadic posts (and replies to comments) as I start yet another journey.

The Pediatric rotation finished! Looking back, long hours were spent with adorable, but screaming children.
After this rotation I really felt that my history taking skills have improved. Seeing 50+ patients per day gave me an opportunity to fine tune the questions I posed to parents and the patients (a technique that I'm sure I will be forever perfecting). I realized that it is such a fundamental part of any exam as it can drastically alter an assessment and treatment plan. Patients and parents tend to forget/ not divulge details if they do not think them significant and as a medical student we have the privilege to spend a fair amount of time questioning patients before the doctor sees them. The questions you ask and the flow of the interview not only sets the atmosphere of the appointment (especially in pediatrics) but it also shows the supervising doctor your train of thought. Each question should be directed in such a way that it either 'rules in' or 'rules out' a diagnosis on your continually forming mental differential diagnosis list.... and trust me that list is a long one when the answer to "what brings you in today?" is "my child has been coughing".
So, with that said, I do love kids; I like observing their different personalities and how they surface at such a young age. I like making them laugh and feel comfortable in the doctor's office. I am grateful for the opportunity to have had such a large amount of time interacting with patients during the peds rotation but my heart is with the field of obstetrics and gynecology :) ... and will make sure to enjoy the simple fact that my patients will be able to express their pain and describe it!

Being home meant I got to spend time with this "little" guy. :)
For the past 5 weeks I took a much needed 'break'. And the word break is in quotes because it consisted of being home and studying for the canadian equivalency exam as well as working on 4th year elective applications.
I was definitely burned out when I got home. Sleep, eating and doing nothing all day had never felt better... every now and then we all need a lazy, lounging day ( or week) spent in the confines of our home ...  Although, as I sit here waiting my plane, I am excited to be returning to my role as a medical student. I guess I missed having a structured day. I really shouldn't be surprised; I am the type of person that will choose white water rafting and camping as my vacation rather than an all-inclusive resort.

Friends supporting friends. Being in medical school doesn't mean your hobbies are put on hold. 
the never ending swarm of runners was such an amazing view.
mile 11.

I also went to support a friend running the NYC Marathon (I hope to write a short post on that alone) but I do want to encourage all of you to attend a big city marathon if you ever have the chance. It truly is an inspiring atmosphere!

So what's next?

I'm going back to the start! That is I will be returning to Sheppard Pratt for a 3 week clerkship in female adolescent psychiatry before returning to Florida for 3 months of Trauma Surgery to complete my third year.
I'm excited to return to Pratt as I will be going back changed; a more experienced medical student. With Ob/Gyn in mind, the female adolescent psych elective will be a nice complement. During my core Ob/Gyn clerkship we dealt with a surprising number of pregnancy complications related to drug addictions and mental health. I will try to keep you posted.

To end this overdue and long update I'm also happy to share I will be partaking in the Color Run in support of Global Citizen. Click on the links to find out more about them and see when they will be hosting an event near you :) It's a fun and interactive way to get everyone involved and spread awareness.

PS. Personal goal of running a marathon has been set... and now it is public which means I have to do it

Monday, August 19, 2013

On to the next one...

I wrote my last post almost a month ago - I can't seem to keep up with the blogging.

Third year seems to be becoming a blur.

As much as it is exciting to be in the hospital, you rotate through each specialty so quickly.  As I am getting comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, the rotation is over and I am thrown into another. Sometimes it seems I just need to keep my head above water long enough for my next day off to come. Working 6 days a week since February with a total of 3 weekends off has taken a toll. Might I add that the "day off" is spent guiltily sleeping in and then franticly studying for the next exam.
Needless, to say it can/has been frustrating and exhausting to feel lost most of the time - while trying to keep an external calm and having the classic "medical student enthusiasm".

I have already finished my first week of paediatrics.
Here is peds in a nut shell: adorably cute kids that are ALWAYS screaming/ crying and come in with full blown colds that get you sick (and give you headaches!). Lessons learned so far? new found respect for parenting!
... but I'd rather tell you about the last little while in florida.

I finished 6 weeks of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Ob/Gyn) and LOVED it. I think I may have found my specialty. The rotation was mostly an inpatient experience as I only spent 2 days in the outpatient clinic, however it was my choice as I wanted to get as much hands on learning as I could. I became a sponge for wanting to learn too much in very little time. I couldn't help myself, I took two 26 hour calls that were voluntary and worked 12+ hours/day. I may have over-indulged! But I had great attendings teach and trust me to perform procedures on patients. To give you a little glimpse... I learned to actually deliver babies with my own two hands (what an incredible experience! To hold someone in their first moments of life and be part of that new family), I was taught how to close fascia and skin, admit patients on my own, read and interpret fetal and maternal monitoring strips, make first incisions, drain cysts and scrubbed in/assist on numerous surgical cases.... the list can keep going but I'm afraid I will start using too much medical lingo ... then I would lose my readers for sure.

If you can't tell that I am excited then here is a picture to prove it. This was taken on one of my last days working with a doctor that I have grown to look up to (she truly invested her time in teaching and showing me everything she could). This was taken after she had let me close fascia and skin after a c-section and perform a quick surgical procedure called marsupialization on my own (with her guidance of course!). Such a rush.

I found ob/gyn to be the perfect combination of primary care in which you can develop a relationship with your patients, hands-on work that is not too time demanding in the OR (most procedures are < 2 hours) and a specialty which I can take the skills I learn and contribute elsewhere, where maternal health resources are needed. This specialty would allow me to continue pursuing my interest in international health (and even link my undergrad genetics studies). There are so many (too many?) possibilities.

Hollywood beach boardwalk
Other than rotations I have not had much time to explore Florida, unfortunately. But I hope to do so in the coming weeks... I am however a 5 min drive to the beach and boardwalk which has become my new running route as soon as I get used to the humidity here - you'd think I would be used to it from Saba, no?
mom and I at the beach after our 17 hour road trip!
Obviously this is the first place we would go to :)

Dinner with friends before they left for their next rotation.

My new favourite study spot.
Poolside studying can work...sometimes

One thing I find is hard to get used to is all the moving around. As much as it is exciting and amazing to have all this opportunity to travel and temporarily live in places I would never think of going, my friends and I have Skype friendships now. Sometimes we even Skype if we are in the same city doing different rotations. Everyone has such a different (and hectic) schedule that it is hard to find to maintain those friendships in person... unless we meet up for study sessions!
I look at all this moving around as travel opportunities and times of adventure... but sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like a lot of people my age are starting their life. "settling down" so to speak which seems like a comforting idea. Being away from close friends and family can be isolating. Moving from place to place with no real 'home' can also be isolating. Always studying can become lonely.

Just some thoughts.

To end off on a more positive (and super cool!) note, here is something I found today :)

If you want to follow his adventure here is the link to his blog: