Rotation: OB/GYN

Now that I am done with my rotations until the New Year, I am catching up on posts about my third year rotations. Expect more frequent posts from me now that things are –somewhat– slower for me.

Name/Location of Clinical Rotation

2 weeks of GynOnc, 2 weeks of private practice (urogyn/reconstructive) and 2 weeks of L&D

What did I like most about this specialty?

The number of immigrants and refugees that we saw on a regular basis; finding fetal heart tones, deliveries! I got to catch a lot of babies, there were even several cases of twins, I got to use the Ultrasound machine and help run triage in L&D, and I felt like a part of the team.

We used the DaVinci robotic unit in GynOnc surgery, which was cool… but the first time I scrubbed in on a robotic surgery, I’m sure the resident thought I was the dumbest med student ever because I asked if scrubbing in was the same as for non-robotic surgeries…. because you just stand in the corner while the surgeons have their backs to the patient, working with the robot, and at the end of the surgery you might get to place a few sutures on the laparoscopic sites.

When I was on Labor & Delivery I was the only unpaired student, so instead of seeing half of the triages, births, and doing half of the morning rounds and prescriptions, I did ALL of them. I was exhausted all the time but I got some of my best evaluations of the year on that service. The one bonus was that my chief let me go home a couple hours early on the Sunday of Mother’s Day because I rocked my job, so I got time to spend with my own baby instead of catching someone else’s.

What did I like least about this specialty?

It basically meant another 4 weeks of surgery…. ug.

Did this clinical rotation give me a good sense of what practice in this specialty would be like?

I think we got a very well-rounded view of what OBGYN entails, with having two-week sub-rotations in the clerkship, with time in the outpatient clinic as well.

Did my interests, values, kills and personality fit with this specialty? If yes, how did they fit? If not, why might they not be compatible?

There are a lot of ethical issues in OBGYN, which can be draining if you get lots of them back to back. There were cases that I was in on that made me question a lot of my beliefs, which I found to be a good — if not essential, really — experience for me as I develop into a physician.

What are the possible practice settings exist for this specialty? Do any of them interest me and do I know enough about them?

Inpatient and outpatient, community-based with hospital privileges; lots of options.

What info do I still need?

None–I feel like I got enough experience to understand their work and their thought process in regards to the services they offer to know that it is not a specialty for me.

Has my perception of this specialty changed? If yes, how?

So, parts of it I really liked, like L&D. Other parts, like GynOnc that were mostly surgical, I didn’t like so much. Overall though, it was a great experience.

Did my clinical rotation experience influence the likelihood of choosing this specialty?

I know that OBGYN is not the specialty for me because I am not surgically-motivated or enthused, and there is a TON of surgery involved in OBGYN.

Right now, how interested am I in this specialty?

It’s actually higher up on my list than I anticipated, but still below Pediatrics and Internal. One of my attendings even told me that she hoped that I went into OBGYN because I would be great at it (and it was my second highest shelf score).

What information do I still need to evaluate this specialty? Any other comments or reflections?

There were times that babies died. We had several pregnant ladies that came in with vaginal bleeding and absent heart tones. That part is heartbreaking. There is a scream that only expectant mothers can emit, and it is the most heart-wrenching sound I have ever heard. There is nothing like it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Life These Days

Here is just a glimpse of what 4th year has looked like for me since late August/early September:

Please pardon the language on this picture, but I laughed at it because I recently completed a two-week EKG interpretation course and my ACLS training! Lets just hope that I don’t forget everything I learned in that elective because it was fun and useful but now I won’t see it again for a while.

There has been much more free time in fourth year, and you can bet that I am taking full advantage of it. The Ladybug and I hit the local parks for fun as often as I can muster with rotations, studying, ERAS-app production, etc.

I had my ACLS training early in the year, around the time that our ERAS applications were due. I wanted to get it out of the way before interview season started. This was a fun 2 day course with hands-on training (And I passed! Always a relief!); even though the EM residents running it told me they were sorry that I’d have to take it again–Pediatrics has a separate ACLS-style training course that I’ll take in the spring summer, either on my own or in coordination with my residency program.

Downsizing. Since we’re moving next year (either away to a new city/state or even just into a house if I match into our home program), I do NOT want to move all of this stuff, yet again. So we are downsizing and minimizing, which included our movie collection. I took a ton of books and movies to Half Price Books, and the movies that we did keep we transferred to a DVD case and threw away all of these cases. SO MUCH MORE SPACE!! I am so, so pleased with getting rid of all of that.

On the first day of Step 2 studying way back in July, I found the back of my earring caught in my hair but the actual earring itself was nowhere to be found. I panicked. These earring were a wedding anniversary gift from my grandma’s late husband, given to me on my wedding day. I not only wore them the day I got married, but also for every medical school interview, the day I got my first med school acceptance, every day of gross anatomy, the day I learned I was expecting, the day we learned she was the Ladybug, the day we met her and brought her home, the day I took Step 1… So they were beyond special to me. I love you Jed everywhere and retraced every step I had taken that morning. I had been to daycare, the gym, and all over campus. It was nowhere to be found. I have ugly-cried so many times since then, and I couldn’t bear to tell my grandma. I even had the thought of someday taking the remaining earring to a jeweler and having a replica pair made. It has been over 11 weeks since this happened, and I had given up all hope of finding it, took Step 2 without them, and put the remaining one safely in a jewelry box. One night this past week, the Ladybug was fighting sleep and crystal nf for a certain bedtime toy. I looked under her bed and GUESS WHAT I FOUND! How many times have I walked right by it without noticing it?! How many times have I swept that carpet and yet, there it was! I am so relieved! (And I never had to tell grandma that I lost it!)

I also passed Step 2 CK (total relief, I can never tell how I performed on those things) and updated my ERAS application before the September 15th deadline/release date. Now I only have Step 2 CS (the in-person part where we take care of a dozen standardized patients in the course of a day) and then I am totally done with exams (minus the AI, acting internship, elective shelf exam that I take in late October) until after I graduate and get my MD!

Posted in Family, Medical School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Nightmares

Since we returned home from our vacation, I’ve been having nightmares. Not every night, but most nights. They reflect my current fears– failing Step 2, not getting any interviews, not Matching…

I’m not sure what to do about them. I thought that once I started filling out my ERAS application for residency that I’d gain some confidence looking back over all I have accomplished in the past 3 years. Instead, I wonder if there is anything about me that will stand out enough to land my first job as a physician (-in-training).

This week is the big week: my ERAS application will be officially submitted and many programs will start downloading applications. I may even get some interviews to schedule this week. My Step 2 scores should also come back this week. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. I seriously think I have looked over every single pediatrics program in the country. My list has been whittled down to the places where I think that I (and my family) will be happy, with lots of things for all three of us to do and enjoy. I had a meeting with my home program’s residency director, and she helped me to go through the list to make sure it was realistic. She said I had a good group of programs and she thinks I will do well–which helped my confidence a bit and since then, no new nightmares! She also told me that she loved my personal statement, which was unexpected but also boosted my confidence a bit.

Here’s to having a good week, a great start to the application and Match process, and finding the right place for my family and I as I transition to being an actual doctor next year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rotation: Family Medicine


Name/Location of Clinical Rotation

2 weeks in a local FM clinic, 4 weeks at a rural AHEC site. My local clinic was also the home of the HIV/AIDS clinic.

What did I like most about this specialty?

All of the people and the variety that we saw. Family Medicine also sees kids, but very few, so I was always quick to jump on those cases.

What did I like least about this specialty?

Not enough kids. But that’s what I say about everything that isn’t Pediatrics.

Did this clinical rotation give me a good sense of what practice in this specialty would be like?

I got a very good perspective on the type of work a Family Medicine physician encounters every day. I liked that on my rural rotation, my preceptor asked for my opinion more often than on any other rotation so far, which kept me on my toes and always thinking.

Did my interests, values, kills and personality fit with this specialty? If yes, how did they fit? If not, why might they not be compatible?

I really enjoyed how I meshed with this patient population. At the local clinic, my favorite patient was a young girl that came in for an STD screen. She was worried that she might have seen something in the shower and was a crying, hysterical mess. I was the first to see her, and I spent a good long time talking to her about what happened and why she was worried, and tried to comfort her. After explaining the situation to my preceptor and we examined the patient, we found…… Nothing! All that worry for nothing, but we gave her lots of options for birth control and for protecting herself from contracting an STD. She cried and gave me a hug before she left. That was the best experience, and totally exemplifies why I wanted to go into medicine to begin with.

My rural preceptor was actually pretty close to my home (with having a kid in daycare that had to be picked up in late afternoon, this was ideal), but on Mondays our last appointment was at 7pm. These were some of the longest and hardest days I have worked as a third year. My preceptor was also a pretty inspiring guy. He started the clinic on his own from a grant, taught himself Spanish so he could easily converse with a large portion of his patients, and the clinic was so successful that there was a brand-new school clinic opening that he was helping to run, along with another school clinic in the beginning phases. I even got to help out with the opening of the school clinic as my community service project while I was on service. We were constantly busy; we’d have 50 scheduled patients/day and we took walk-ins. I would volunteer to go see patients as soon as they came in the door to keep the flow going.

What are the possible practice settings exist for this specialty? Do any of them interest me and do I know enough about them?

The clinic setting is pretty common, but I know that the residents often train in our local hospitals as well, especially our pediatric hospital.

What info do I still need?

None–I really enjoyed my time in Family Medicine, a lot more than I thought I would. However, I still think I’m going into Pediatrics.

Has my perception of this specialty changed? If yes, how?

Umm, yes. I was really dreading this rotation. I’d already had Pediatrics and Internal, so I figured it would just be a rehashing of some of those same topics so I wasn’t particularly excited about it. However, I learned a ton of preventative medicine and saw so many cool cases, including regular bread-and-butter cases that were great practice.

Did my clinical rotation experience influence the likelihood of choosing this specialty?

Family Medicine is higher up on my list than I thought it would be. I was very impressed by the depth of education I got on this rotation.

Right now, how interested am I in this specialty?

Pediatrics>Internal>Family>Neurology>Surgery

What information do I still need to evaluate this specialty? Any other comments or reflections?

None! Now on to…… OBGYN.

Resources for the Shelf: Case Files, Step Up to Medicine (ambulatory section), Master the Boards (Emergency Med section), Pretest for questions. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Might as Well


Might as well be productive while I wait on my oil change. I’m currently on my EKG Interpretation elective and my ACLS certification sessions are in two weeks! 

Fourth year so far is so much fun but also pretty stressful. Today is the opening day for ERAS submissions (our system for applying to residency) and hopefully interview invitations will be rolling in next week (at the earliest!). 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Believe in Yourself 


Planning on submitting my residency app next week has me in a state of disbelief. How did med school go by so quickly?!

#FutureFAAP #mominmedschool #ms4 #interviewseason

Instagram: @PagingDrAllie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Onto M4

Everyone says M4 is the best year of med school. I hope they are right….
I start my final year with 4 weeks to study for Step 2 CK before I go back to the clinics. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Beasts

Step 2 CK scores came back yesterday (I’m super happy about my score!) and ERAS residency applications went live this morning. That’s two big checkboxes marked off on the 4th year checklist. Now for all the lovely waiting for interview invitations. I am so excited that those two things are done. Boards are always so stressful and that application took forever to fill out, upload documents, assign documents, proofread… A total mess. 

Keep your fingers crossed for me that interview invitations start rolling in! 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Minimalism and the Weight of Stuff

We have now been in the new apartment for a year. We moved because we needed more space with the baby starting to walk (and getting into literally everything), plus there was no room whatsoever outside in a yard that we could take her to play. There was also an incident with the upstairs neighbor’s water heater flooding our place and leaving behind mold–which they tried to cover up with a thin layer of white paint over half of it… and then their new water heater leaked, and we got another dose of mold. No thank you. So we were looking for a new place, a place with more square footage for the baby to roam with a yard or outside space. Bonus if it was in the country and quiet.

Then we found the new place: nearly double the square footage, huge windows, high ceilings, in the country on 4 acres and a grand total of six apartments in the building so it’s super quiet. It also affords us sunsets like this:


However, there was one thing that I didn’t like about having to move: hauling all the crap from one place to another. I didn’t realize just how much stuff we had accumulated. Frankly, I was embarrassed by how much stuff we had to move, and all the boxes and the stuff that just kept coming. By having the baby we gained a third person to our happy home and all of the stuff that comes with adding a third person to our family… but it was still way too much, and it just kept coming. Babies have a way of making anyone and everyone super generous, which can be nice, but can also add up quickly.

So here we have been, in this new spacious apartment… and it’s got two closets. Not even a coat closet. So lots of stuff got pushed into the closet space we did have.

And then came the third year of medical school with work hours and patient logs and call days with 30+ hour shifts on top of studying and assignments. I kept thinking that I needed to “go through stuff”when I finally got a day off or on post-call. Well…. guess what. When I did get time off, the last thing I wanted to do was go through stuff and sort out piles of trash, donate, sell, or return to owner. Ever so slowly, those piles did form and items started to disappear. The problem was, there was still…. stuff. Everywhere.

I kept having thoughts roll around in my mind about how to best get rid of the excess we had accumulated. Little by little those same piles started to reform. If I did find myself with some free time and if something was bugging me, I’d settle into a heated, angry, cleaning frenzy (hello cluttered sink that drove me nuts for months…).

In November I came up with an idea for a donation project. I worked through my school to set up a donation drive for the local refugee center, which was a huge hit! We wound up taking over 13 carloads of household goods to the local centers. So not only did we do some good for the local community, but I also got to donate a ton of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing that needed to find a good home.


And even then… we still had excess. And it was driving me nuts. How on earth did just three people accumulate so much stuff? We’re not hoarders by any means, but my goodness, there is just stuff everywhere. When I helped with the dropoffs for the donation drive, I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a relief it was to give away bags and bags worth of stuff that could find new life in a new home. I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders, and a lot of the stuff I dropped off was NOT mine/ours.

I had no idea just how much mental weight all of that stuff was putting onto me.

Months later, my husband preordered us tickets to a limited-screening documentary held here in town: Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. That is the kind of people we are: we preorder tickets to documentaries. I was so happy he did this–not only because it meant a weeknight date night after a busy clinic day, but also because sometimes my husband just gets me, and it feeds my soul.

I gotta say, I love this documentary. What Joshua and Ryan say is simple and clean, and made so much sense to me. Stuff and consumerism isn’t what makes us happy. How much of the stuff that we have we bought or kept because we thought we had to, or we thought that it held the memories or was the source of our happiness? And it was then that I realized that…. it wasn’t.

Let me tell you about the stuff that I have that is weighing me down. I still have clothes in my closet from high school, back when I was a muscular, slender athlete with big dreams for what was to come. Add in the grad school weight, the married life happy weight, the baby weight… I have a closet full of clothes that I am keeping for the day when I slim down and I hope my old favorites can fit again. It’s massive. My favorite jeans, shirts, even a couple dresses. The thought of letting most of it go makes me uneasy. My closet is full of stuff that I cannot wear. But… having seen the documentary, and having thought about it for months while I finish up the third year of medical school, the time had come to clean it all out.

The closet was actually one of the last things to be tackled. First was the bookshelves. I love my books. I still have some old textbooks from college, but over the years I have been so happy to use the Amazon Trade-In program to give back some of my textbooks in exchange for funds for the next batch of books I need for school (thank goodness I am entering the last year of school and the textbooks will slow down–maybe–for a bit). Books that I didn’t want/need anymore that Amazon wouldn’t take were donated to libraries or children’s programs. Also, when I’ve been published, the publisher sends me multiple copies of the journal. Do I really need four copies of the exact same issue of the journal?? No. Away they went.


Then we tackled the movie collection. When we got married, we had so many duplicate movies. I thought we had gone through them all and found the duplicates, but I found a few more. Then there was a pile that we haven’t watched since the first viewing. Out they went. Then went (some) of the movies that are unopened (like the entire Saturday Night Live collection still pristine, wrapped in plastic).

The next thing we tackled: all the old paperwork we have kept for a rainy day or just in case. I went through it all and majorly cleaned out all that paper clutter, shredding what needed to be shredded and recycling what I could. Then out went the magazines, after one more time of reading them. Bye bye, paper clutter.

One more thing we found: at my favorite local coffee shop, there was an advertisement for a shoe collection/donation that went to making playgrounds for schools and providing clean water in resource-limited areas. After going through all of our shoes, we donated seven pairs of tennis shoes to that program.

Out went the bags of trash. Out went the bags of donations. Out went the paper and the clothes with holes and all the things that we kept that every time I looked at it I thought, I hate you. Why do I still have you?

One of the things that we do for fun in the summer is go to local home shows. I love seeing how different homes are set up as I daydream about our future home. But what I think I like most about touring this homes is just how crisp, clean and decluttered they are. I know it’s all staging and set up to be that way, but what draws me to that style is the minimalism of it all.

After the first round of attempting to be minimalists, we still had a lot of stuff. But, we have much less. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. When we end up moving early next year after I match into a residency program, I don’t want to have that same anxiety-provoking, overwhelming nightmare occur when we move for the (hopefully) final time.

An unexpected way we’ve been able to minimize: using up what we already have.  I haven’t been to Bath & Body Works in over a year. I’ve been gifted so much that I do not need anything from there until I use up what I have.

Which means my pocketbook is happier too. I collect Starbucks mugs in their Cities collection from all of our trips. Lately, on two of our trips, I have intended to buy a mug but left without them. And I’m not remorseful about it. They’d just be collecting dust until they have their own home once we move into a house next year. For now, they’d just be clutter. And who needs that? Why organize so much when you can downsize? Less stuff = no need to organize. That makes me so much more…. free…. now that I have let go of so much stuff and the need to have so much stuff.

This weekend, we tackled the most dreaded of all tasks… the baby’s room. Holy moly, so much stuff.

We are far from done with cleaning out and adjusting to be minimalists. I still have plenty of books, as they are my first love. I still have some old jeans that I hope to once again wear. Because minimalism isn’t about never having any materialistic thing, but about knowing that things and stuff do not bring happiness. We have a long way to go, but we are trying.

 

Posted in Family, Medical School, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Introspection 

  Good morning, Virginia Beach.  This is the 4th morning of our family vacation and I woke up to a wonderful sunrise. Bonus: the hubby and the Ladybug slept in so I enjoyed this view while reading a (non-med school!) book.

While reading, my mind began to wander to my Personal Statement for residency. How on earth am I supposed to sum up my entire life to this point in time and why pediatrics has always been the next logical step for me in one single-spaced page? From what I’ve gathered from multiple conversations from my advisor, program director, and others is that Personal Statements are usually just kind of “meh” and not very personal… So I definitely don’t want to write something that leaves those impressions.

I’m not the best test taker. I’m not at the top of my class, despite working as hard as I could over the past three years, being successful in some areas and not-so-successful in others. There’s so much pressure to perform well while making it look effortless, to stand out from the crowd of other amazing and successful medical students, to land a coveted residency position when there are more applicants each year but only so many spots… I am feeling the pressure to make every section of my residency application as glowing as possible so that I am able to train at a great program. The Personal Statement, then, is an area where I need to shine so I can stand out despite being an average student in a sea of successful, hardworking, inspiring pediatricians-in-training.

The worst part of medical school is the constant competition.

I’ve tried to sit down and write this stupid thing a dozen times since January. I just can’t seem to do it. Maybe it’s the pressure, maybe the stressing out on myself has transformed into fear, and that’s why I just can’t seem to do it.

Until this morning. I had an idea on that tiny balcony, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean by myself, lost in my thoughts with a book in my hand. A friend recently made a statement about me and I thought to myself, “Actually… That’s true.” Why is it that I am still so afraid to OWN the things that make me who I am? To let my interests shine instead of trying to hide them away? This is my residency application for pediatrics–I’ve wanted to be a pediatrician for forever–so now is the time to be brave and show them who I really am. So the thought that was born to start with a statement about who I really am and let it grow organically from there, instead of wondering how to make a statement fit the expectations that doesn’t sound like me at all.


David keeps reminding me that this is a vacation, not a studycation or a workcation. I totally agree and we’re having a great time, but when the views look like this, I might as well harness the inspiration that comes from it, no?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment