Matched!

The first time I ever went to a Match Day, I thought it was a special kind of wonderful. A huge room absolutely packed with family and friends, medical students jumping for joy with their envelopes telling them where they were going for their training… it was so much fun.

And it wasn’t even MY DAY. It was just so fun seeing everyone else so happy.

And yet, I was unbelievably sad. Three failed applications to medical school and I had just about given up. I’m sure any sane person would have.

But, I am stubborn, and I am just different. I remember telling David once that I didn’t know if I would ever truly be happy, working as a scientist but regretting never going to medical school. I’m pretty sure even he, my biggest supporter, thought I had lost my damn mind when I said that. Maybe I was just being dramatic, but at the time I was working a job that I absolutely hated, due to circumstances beyond my control. Attending that Match Day filled me with a newfound optimism. I’ve got to try just one more time. Whatever the outcome, then I will be done and I will move on. Just one more time.

Now, almost 5 years later, and my Match Day is this Friday. Today I got this email:

I started a new rotation today, and we were busy seeing patients when I heard a very faint ding! in my pocket. And I just knew, That’s it. That’s gotta be the email. As soon as I had a split second to check, all I saw was, “Congr–“ on the subject line.

And now my Facebook and Instagram feeds are all filled with the same picture from friends in med schools across the country, and I am so happy for everyone. We are almost at the finish line for this leg of the race.

So, so happy. I get a Match Day, I get to have a residency position to start the process of being a pediatrician. I am so overwhelmingly relieved. The constant stress of medical school has all been in the hopes of landing a residency.

First and second year: Make good grades and pass Step 1 so I can land a residency.

Third year: Make good grades and get good letters so I can land a residency

Fourth year, early on: Pass Step 2 and put together a great app so I can land a residency.

Fourth year, after interviewing: Please let me Match into a residency! Did I put programs in the right order to Match? Did I rank enough programs? Will I actually get to be a resident?

It almost makes me wonder if Match Day will be anti-climatic. Thank goodness that’s all over???

All of that aside, I am so relieved. In four days we will have an answer and can start looking for a house. I’m ready. I’m so ready. I’m not ready. But I’m ready. There will always be so much I don’t know, but I am finally almost there. PagingDrAllie, pediatric resident physician.

A dream, ever so close to becoming true.

 

Advertisements

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!

Rotation: Inpatient Neurology

Name/Location of Clinical Rotation

Inpatient stroke at our local stroke center/Inpatient General Neurology

What did I like most about this specialty?

It was pretty relaxed. I got to spend a lot of time with my patients, and there was a lot of time to think and research things for my patients.

What did I like least about this specialty?

There were some really sad stories, and what I didn’t like about Neuro was that a lot of the time, the patients never got better; at best, we might halt or slow a disease process, but we didn’t really fix anything.

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

I was on inpatient stroke/neuro consult and had my ED experience, which gave me a lot of unique experiences. I enjoyed that part, and I feel like I got a view of a large scope of that sort of practice.

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 liked that I got so much time with my patients, but it isn’t the right specialty for me. It did not click at all.

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

There’s inpatient, outpatient, and subspecialties in stroke and lots of things that I didn’t know about prior to this rotation! I feel like I got a good view of them, but I don’t see myself pursuing neurology. Right now my list is: IM>Neuro>Surgery, but I’m only on my third rotation!

What info do I still need?

None–I feel like I saw enough and got a good enough feel of it to know that I am interested in looking elsewhere for my specialty selection.

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

I learned a lot on this service. I really sucked at localizing lesions in the beginning, and with the neuro exam encompassing so many steps, I was always nervous performing a total neuro exam in front of my attending and residents. I felt like I had a good relationship with many of my patients. I still wonder about some of them, how they are doing. I do have a much higher respect for the specialty now.

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

Now that I’ve gotten a chance to really see what working in neurology is like, I do not think I will be selecting it, but it has been a positive experience.

Right now, how interested am I in this specialty?

IM>Neuro>Surgery at this point.

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

Some of these patients were so sad. I tried to give my patients plenty of time to complete the MMSE exam, but it was frustrating to them as well as me when they tried so hard on this silly set of tests and sometimes could just not do them no matter how hard they tried.

Wearing All the Hats

Hats. I wear several. It’s hard to keep track of them all. Let me tell you how today went.

I’m on my Family Medicine rotation, and I’m spending the first two weeks (out of six) at a local clinic. Three of my classmates are also at this clinic for the two weeks. At this particular clinic, we get 4 half-days off to study. This morning was my first half day off.

First, I still got up before 6am to get ready for the day. I packed my daughter’s daycare bag with breakfast and snacks, got dressed for the day, and then got her up, got her dressed, and out the door we went to daycare. When I got back home, I cleaned the kitchen, put up one load of dishes and started another load, started laundry, took out the trash, and rearranged my kitchen cabinets (the place was seriously a mess and I couldn’t stand it anymore!).

Once that was done, I did some things I needed to get done: sifting through emails. Fourth year is rapidly approaching and we’ve been bombarded with emails about scheduling 4th year, writing our personal statements, meeting with our advisors and our MSPE letter writers, etc, so there have been a lot of emails with a lot of important dates attached. So I filed away all of the ones I was done with, updated my planner, RSVP’d to events, set up meetings with advisors, that sort of thing. I then did some of my fun things like edit an article for in-Training, submit Annual Meeting programming ideas to my AMA Committee, etc. Then I sat down to study for a bit.

For the past couple of weeks, my back and shoulder have been killing me so I booked a massage for this morning to see if that could work out my tight muscles since even yoga hasn’t been helping. After my appointment, I grabbed a quick lunch and made my way to the clinic. We saw 6 patients before the end of the day (not bad for a half day, as several of them required quite a bit of time to address all of the problems).

Tonight, my school’s GHHS group hosted “Compassion Rounds”, which was a great meeting on self-care and wellness that was a great reminder of why I came to medical school, and gave me a lot of things to think about, in terms of how I treat myself while I’m going through this process–I always feel like I am failing at at least one of the things that I do.

By the time I got out of the meeting, it was 7:30pm. We really needed groceries and I missed my hubby and the Ladybug, so we all went to the grocery together for a quick trip. Once we got home, the hubby put away the groceries while I gave the Ladybug a bath and dressed in her PJ’s. I then took a shower, paid bills, balanced my checkbook (all that “adulting” stuff, and worked a few of the Case Files cases for Family Medicine.

This day has felt like three individual days. I still didn’t get everything done that I wanted–I didn’t make it to the gym today. I usually go either super early on my days off, or after the Ladybug goes to bed during the week. I didn’t get to study as much as I hoped today since I did need to do some “life” things, but I am ok with that, since I got so much of the “life” stuff done.

Today I also read a short article titled “I’m a Mom, Not a Martyr.” It was a great article; it addressed so many of the feelings that I’ve had while trying to go to school and be a good wife/mom. I do all of these things because I love all of them. I love being a mom. I love taking care of my family. I love spending time alone with my husband. I love going to the gym and having my free time. I love writing and editing. I love being a medical student. I’m exhausted, but I’m also extremely happy. Some days, I get so frustrated. Some days, I just want a nap! And it’s all ok! I’m not a martyr, I’m not a saint, I’m not superwoman, I’m just me and I’m doing what works. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes it’s not. Being a medical student is not nearly as impossible as I had originally thought way back when I first got my acceptance. I thought I would spend every waking minute (and give up sleeping, too, I thought) to be totally consumed with medicine. That’s not how it has been at all, and we are all three thriving. There have been plenty of struggles, plenty of tears, but also plenty of laughs and smiles and joy. It’s all about adjusting and rolling with the punches. Today was long and convoluted and I wore all my hats at different times–and it was a great day!

Follow-Up Interview

images

Awhile back, my contacts at Accepted.com asked me if I’d be willing to do a follow-up interview with them since my story of starting a family during medical school resonated with so many of their readers. I’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months not only about medicine, but also about life, hope, parenthood, and how dreams change over time, so I agreed to share a bit about this life. My interview is now live and you can read it here.

*Disclosure: Awhile after completing the interview, Accepted.com did send me a Starbucks gift card as a thank you, and I wouldn’t feel right about it if I didn’t at least share that info.*

Sometimes, There are Just No Words

There has been radio silence on this blog lately. I’ve tried writing this post several times and just can’t seem to do it.

Surgery was a very rough rotation for my family. It wasn’t just the change in schedules because a normal day was 5am to 5pm for me, with call days being 5am on call day through at least 8am the following morning. When I was home, I was exhausted. Part of the required assignments was completion of online video modules; on more than one occasion, I literally fell asleep on top of my laptop doing the modules. That is just the nature of this particular rotation–it was exhausting, but the majority of the time I was still having fun, even if I didn’t see myself going into surgery.

There are just some things that you can’t prepare for. My strategy for the surgery rotation was to keep my head down, work hard, be helpful, and move on. I didn’t think I wanted to go into surgery, but I was looking forward to the experience and learning a lot.

On the night of Memorial Day, David got a phone call. From his mom. Which wasn’t exactly unheard of, but this time things were different. My father-in-law was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in July, and he was going downhill fast. After a couple of hours of panic at the sudden change in status, the ventilator was withdrawn. With the diagnosis, we knew there wouldn’t be much time, but we were not prepared for this so soon. This happened after midnight and I was due to get up at 4am to be in the hospital before 5am to see my patients. I still went into work that day, because 1) short notice 2) there was nothing I could do for my family as we were all in shock and 3) I deal with grief better when I am busy. That was the first time I have ever thought that I really didn’t want to spend time in the hospital on a particular day, so it was quite unlike me.¬† I did let my clerkship leadership know, and they did let me take off a day to comfort my family and help with the arrangements. The funeral was on my post-call day, so I didn’t need any extra time off for that. I am not the type that likes to ask for help, or likes to have special arrangements made, but this was one time that it was nice to have supervisors that were understanding. The situation put me into a mental funk that I still don’t think I have recovered from, on top of still having some guilt for missing a day of work–I totally felt like a slacker even after I made up the time and assignments.

The most difficult part, though, was being home. My father-in-law was a good man, and I loved him, but I’ve only known him for 6 years. It was much harder for David, and I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job of comforting him when I spent so much time away. This is why I feel medicine is a tough profession for families–the perception is that time away is weakness (especially in surgery). Many people have asked me how I balance being a mom, wife, and med student. Most of the time, it’s not too bad, because I get to do so many of the things that I love on a daily basis. However, there are plenty of instances where I feel like I have stretched myself too thin. This was one situation where I definitely felt like there just wasn’t enough of me, or enough time, to go around.

There were a few other things that happened during my surgery rotation that were beyond my control, and that are beyond the scope of this post, but I have learned from them and moved on. This particular rotation was Murphy’s Law for me… everything bad that could have happened, did happen, and happened at the worst possible time. I haven’t really felt much like writing/blogging since, especially about this topic. After several weeks, I am just now getting back to feeling like I know what I’m doing again, and with that, comes the need to write.

Rotation: Internal Medicine Wards

Name/Location of Clinical Rotation

IM wards (4 weeks) at our local University hospital.

What did I like most about this specialty?

Establishing a relationship with adult patients. Several of my patients gave me nicknames and would at least be happy to see me in the mornings. That, to me, was a great compliment. I also really enjoyed the hospital environment and even having call days where we’d rush down to the ED–it was so exciting! I also liked that we could do procedures. At the end of a call day, right before we were all getting ready to leave, we got a call from the ED about a patient that needed a paracentesis. The intern on my team passed on the opportunity, so my upper level asked me if I would like to do it…. and of course I said yes! So I got to do the full work-up: H&P, informed consent, and the procedure. That day, I really felt fulfilled. I know that in my future career, I do want the opportunity to perform procedures.

Plus, my team rocked. It always helps when your teammates encourage you and are enthusiastic about teaching. I think that’s another reason why I loved my month on inpatient wards.

What did I like least about this specialty?

In Kentucky, we see so much obesity, diabetes, and heavy smoking… and the consequences… that it can be draining to give the bad news about a person’s health. Giving the bad news is not fun. At times, patients were even upset with me and/or the hospital because of the bad news. Learning to apologize and learning to communicate with people despite bad news was a learning opportunity in and of itself.

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

I really think that it does, apart from not really seeing what adult outpatient medicine is like.

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 feel like they do–lots of work one-on-one with patients, and I felt like I got enough time with them that I wasn’t rushed. In the long-term, though, I’m not sure if the IM I’ve been exposed to has enough community involvement and advocacy/outreach that I’m wanting in my future career. That would take more investigation.

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

There are so many opportunities in IM that it’s no wonder that most students apply to IM residencies. General outpatient, hospitalist, subspecialist… there are so many options and so many fields! I don’t think that two weeks on subspecialty was enough for me to make a decision about what type of medicine I’d want to practice long-term, but it was nice to get to see those things as well.

What info do I still need?

None. I feel like I got a well-rounded experience and that I understand the work and workload of what it would take to be a successful IM resident.

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

Yes! I was honestly dreading working with adults, but I loved getting to spend time with my patients. I didn’t really think IM was on my radar but now it at least has a chance.

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

I found that I really enjoyed working with adults more than I thought I would. I felt like I had great rapport with most of my patients, and I never once thought that I didn’t want to go to work that day.

Right now, how interested am I in this specialty?

Being my first rotation, I didn’t really have anything to compare it to, other than the two two-week subspecialty rotations I’d had. However, I am keeping IM on my list of choices; I definitely think I could be happy working as an internist.

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

Our rotation gave us a lot of exposure to this field, and I have to say, I loved it. Also, working in more than one hospital gave me exposure to working with more than one EMR/EHR which I thought was a valuable experience.

Things I did not expect: We encountered a LOT more heavy drug users/OD’s and inmates as patients than I anticipated. And I was surprised by how at ease I was with working with them–even if a patient came in in an orange jump suit, giving them the best care I could muster was the same as I would give to any of my patients. I was also pleasantly surprised by how my assumptions were challenged by some of our patients.

Resources I used to study for the shelf: Step Up to Medicine and Case Files: Internal Medicine. This was a LOT of reading and a LOT of work to do during my first rotation while I’m still trying to figure out exactly what my role is as a third year medical student. I really wish I would have front-loaded my study time, as I didn’t get to read all of Case Files or Step Up. I didn’t even finish all of the UWorld questions in Internal Med (which has the most questions on the Step 2 Qbank). So I performed ok on the shelf, but I was disappointed in myself. Lesson learned.