Countdown: 5 More Weeks

As long and grueling as this first year of medical school has been, I can finally see that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel… and only 5 more weeks until I’m there!

We have a massive Physio exam on Monday afternoon, so that has been consuming all of my time lately, including this entire gorgeous spring weekend. This weekend is also Thunder Over Louisville, which kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival shenanigans for the next three weeks. Personally, I’m not that excited about Thunder itself, since I’ve lived in this area for most of my life and if you’ve seen one Thunder, you’ve seen them all. Not to mention, Louisville likes to shove Thunder/Derby down everyone’s throats for months and it ends up ruining wonderful weekends like this one with traffic and hassle.

But anyway, back to my massive Physio test: Physio is cumulative at my school, so instead of just studying three chapters (which is enough information for any one brain to hold), I also have to know the previous four chapters cold for this test…. Seven chapters, or nearly 1400 pages of notes, for a 100-ish question exam that should take 3-4 hours to complete.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

As soon as this exam is over, I need to finish my poster, have it printed, get ready for my presentation in Galveston, and catch up on Biochem in time to take that exam early so I can even go to this conference.

Thank goodness there are “only” five more weeks of this craziness left. This pregnant lady could use the mental break, and the time to get ready for Ladybug’s arrival. (In case I didn’t mention it, over Spring Break we found out that baby is a girl, who– still — does not have a name yet, so her nickname for now is Ladybug.) She has a crib and a dresser and a ton of clothes already thanks to both grandma’s, cousin Kim, and me. We’re having a family cookout instead of a traditional baby shower the week after school lets out, so I am really looking forward to seeing all my family and having some fun since I feel like I’ve been in a med school exam black hole for so long. Not long after that I start my Externship and then we’ll be a family of three. I am so looking forward to summer!

It doesn’t seem real that I’m almost a “rising second-year”… and it still doesn’t feel real that after all of this I will actually be a doctor. It’s a bit surreal.

There’s been some other exciting developments lately, but those will have to wait for another time.For now, though, it’s back to studying so I can be a Physio Queen and demolish this exam on Monday. I hope everyone else gets to enjoy this gorgeous weekend!

Friday

Tomorrow is finally Friday.

I cannot even tell you how excited I am.

We usually only have one mandatory event to attend each week, if we’re lucky. But for the past two weeks, we’ve had at least one mandatory event–PBL, TBL, patient interview, exam, something like that–every single day. I am exhausted. My brain is confused. I can never seem to sit down and concentrate on what I need to get done, because there’s been something extraneous to review or sit through that interrupts my focus.

So tomorrow is Friday, with a golden weekend afterward. We have an 8am mandatory graded event, and then I am off to Cincinnati for a global health conference with two classmate friends. This is my reward for surviving these two hellacious weeks. I am so excited for Friday, but am so exhausted that I can’t even expend the energy to be happy about it.

Another Day in the NICU

Since I had some free time over my Spring Break, I managed to snag another day in the NICU.

I love this place, the NICU. Yes, there are lots of really sick babies. But it also represents innovation, hope, persistence, and to me, miracles.

There, I sat in on my first critical care conference with the “circle of life” (med students to residents to attendings) that were involved in a very difficult case. I observed while the attending talked to the family about the possible treatments for their baby. I learned so much in this session, especially about compassion, support, and nondirectiveness. What I love about this particular set of physicians is that, no matter how busy the unit is, when they are interacting with the patients’ families, it’s as if that is the only thing on the agenda for the day.

That, I believe, is my utmost goal (other than being damn good at my job, in general): make them all feel like they are my only patient for the day.

Figures

It’s just my luck that the very day after I make up my mind about how I want to spend my summer, and I am totally at peace with my decision, I land one of the coveted cancer research spots I thought there was no way I’d be selected for… And subsequently have to turn it down.

Grumble grumble pout grumble grumble.

I would love to be able to do every single thing I desire all at the same time… But I knew when I applied for every type of program everywhere I could find, that I could only pick one in the end. I also realize that I am not, in fact, SuperWoman after all, and I’m going to have to cool it, as far as my ambitiousness goes. Surely I’m doing enough as it is.

Summer Plans

Friday was Match Day 2014, where MS4′s find out where they will do their intern year/residency for training after medical school as newly-minted physicians. This was the first year in the past three where I haven’t spent it with MS4s and shared in on the excitement; I really missed being able to share that with my upperclassmen, but we had two graded in-class assignments that day… *sigh* It never ends.

I cannot wait for my own Match Day in 3 years. It’s blowing my mind that we have only 8 more weeks of this academic year before my last summer free. This year, although has seemed long, is wrapping up very quickly.

And now, for the good news. A summer program that I applied for finally emailed me back with an answer I was hoping for: I’ve been accepted, AND I “matched” into my first choice! After everything I’ve been through lately, I think I’ve finally made up my mind about what I want to do with my summer with all of the acceptances I’ve received. My school runs a summer program that is fairly unique, called a Pediatric Externship that is conducted by the Department of Pediatrics. We had to fill out an application (with essays) and rank 11 different departments. The selected students spend 4 weeks acting as a part of the medical team with patients, learning how to present on rounds, practice taking H&Ps and writing SOAP notes with attendings’ inputs. There was a lot more interest in this program for this summer than in years past, so it wasn’t a given that those who applied would even get a spot, let alone one of their top choices. I ranked Neonatology, Heme/Onc, and Infectious Disease as my top three. It now looks like I’ll be spending the first month of my summer with the babies in the NICU! I am so excited! This way, I can have some fun and do something that I want to do (while doing something useful for my CV), and still have plenty of time to relax on summer break before the baby arrives.

There are so many days where I feel overwhelmed, stressed, and like I’m barely staying afloat… and then there’s the days where I feel like I’m competent and things just might work out the way I hoped they would. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the bigger picture in focus. Now that I have some clinical experience to look forward to, that is directly aligned with my career and research goals, I get a second wind and am reminded why I signed up for this in the first place.

That One Time My Accidental Abstract was Accepted

I really should just rename this blog “A Major Change in Plans”, or just learn to keep my mouth shut.

I realize how blessed I am; I realize that I have a great family, the best friends, and a wonderful husband. My baby is “perfect” and healthy. I realize that I am, indeed, living every aspect of my dream all at once. I realize that every day that I’m in medical school is a privilege not to be squandered.

When I’m overwhelmed, it can be hard to remember all of that. But God has a knack for stepping in when I least expect it and totally rocking my world.

Yesterday, my plan for today was to work on some writing, clean up the apartment, and maybe read ahead in physio. So, not really doing much, and taking things slowly.

Weeks ago, an hour before the deadline, I submitted an abstract to a conference. I really thought there was no way it would be accepted, so I didn’t put much time or effort into my abstract and just kinda forgot about it. I thought there was no way anyone would take interest in my abstract, especially since I just kinda threw something together. Until last night, when I got an email that my abstract has been accepted and I am to present it at the University of Texas Medical Branch National Student Research Forum in Galveston. I hadn’t even thought about when this conference was; I really thought it was over the summer. Nope! It’s next month. (Holy crap!) And my 15-page manuscript is due on April 1st. (Holy crap!)

Ummmm… so… yeah. That happened.

After checking the date of the conference and comparing it to my school schedule, there was a conflict. I have a Biochem exam the first day of the conference. But, no worries! I immediately emailed my professor who has approved my request to take the exam early.

Holy crap! This just might work out after all.

So I guess today I need to focus on getting everything ready for the conference, including booking a hotel and figuring out what paperwork I need to fill out (some due before the 18th!), including getting this manuscript polished (after sitting on it for so long). I guess this is the kick in the pants that I needed!

This is my first solo project/presentation. Internally, I’m kinda freaking out. So much for my Spring Break being calm and relaxing.

Win Some, Lose Some

Highs and lows, highs and lows. Things come, things go. It happens. Roll with the punches, celebrate the highs, etc etc.

I’ve been saying it a lot lately… A LOT… but, cast your net wide, and you just might catch a fish or two.

A fish or two. Not all. I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught ALL of them.

But there’s still a sense of disappointment that comes with not catching them all, even if I already know that that is not the goal.

Lately, it’s been a toss-up; some things that I thought had my name written all over them wound up not coming to fruition, which is just fine, though the disappointment persists. And yet, there has been some good sprinkled in, too.

It’s been a very packed week, given that it’s Spring Break and supposedly a calmer week than usual. I’ve been accepted into one summer program, placed at the top of the alternate list for another, and rejected from three, all while two more applications are currently pulled up on my laptop screen and I’m still waiting to hear back from almost 20 more programs.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’m overreacting to the email we got from one of my advisors about how tough it is to get a residency spot these days, in all specialties (even the “uncompetitive” ones). Maybe, just maybe, that one little email has elevated my anxiety for no good reason. Either way, it’s still toying with my confidence, and I am not a fan of that.