Interview Season in Pictures

The best year of medical school is the year you are accepted. The second best year is 4th year. Or so I was told four years ago. =)

Somehow it is already Christmas Break of my 4th year of medical school and in less than 5 months people will start calling me “Doctor” and I’m actually going to know how to do stuff and know things. It’s pretty unbelievable that after so many years of wanting to go to medical school and going through the process of applying to medical school four times and thinking it would never happen for me…. I am actually almost done. It doesn’t quite feel real.

I am very happy to report that the nightmares I was having back over the summer, before the ERAS residency application opened, were completely unfounded. I have more interviews than I know what to do with and the odds are in my favor that I will actually Match in March and will have my first job as a physician come next June/July. It’s been an incredible experience, if not time-consuming, alienating, and exhausting, but a necessary evil in the long run. I have met so many incredible people in the field of Pediatrics, and I feel so lucky to be going into the best specialty! (I may be a bit biased 😉 and I’m sure all of my colleagues in other fields feel the same way about their specialty.) I can’t wait to get started on my career but at the same time, I wish this year would slow down.

Over the past several months, my Instagram feed (@PagingDrAllie) has been flooded with snapshots of the interview trail. Because what else am I supposed to do when I’m going to new states, new cities, new places all by myself for nearly three months?

I purposefully do not share where I am interviewing. Not only for anonymity (which really, in having this blog, I’m probably not doing a very good job about that anyway), but I feel that sharing and bragging about those sorts of things is just in bad taste. A program that I am not thrilled with may be a friend’s top choice and they may not have received an interview invitation…. and I’m not the type of person who relishes in others’ despair. Below I’ve gathered some of my Instagram shots from my travels, with captions. I hope you enjoy a small taste of my life living out of a rental car!

One of the unexpected bonuses of traveling so much in November/December: all of the hotels and hospitals are wonderfully decorated for Christmas (and Hanakkuh, and others), which delights my soul in a particularly special way. There’s just something about twinkle lights that makes me deliciously happy.

 

This has been my view for so long that anything else almost seems foreign. After awhile, all of the hotels just blur together. There have been a couple that have really wow’d me in terms of the bedding. As a mom of a two-year-old, having a full night’s sleep, alone, without interruptions (or being kicked in the face) is a luxury beyond belief. Even so….. I do miss my own bed at home. Once I’m actually working, maybe we can investigate investing in a bigger bed that is as comfortable as this one was!

 

The bad thing about racing home, while driving alone, is that when you’re driving into a beautiful sunset, there is no one to share the experience with. Which means you pull over onto a safe pullout/shoulder and snap a few quick shots before getting back behind the wheel and trying to make up for those minutes.

I spent a week and a half in a new state to interview at several programs, thinking that would be best for my rental car and time. What I didn’t anticipate when I scheduled those interviews was how much I’d already be missing home and my kiddo, even that early in the interview season. So the Handsome came up with a brilliant scheme: instead of coming all the way home, I’d meet him and the Ladybug at the halfway point between home and the next interview to spend a weekend doing things she’d love like swimming in a heated pool and an excursion to the Children’s Museum there. So after my last interview of the week on a Friday, I raced to our rendezvous as quickly as I could to surprise the little one and when I came into the room….. she was already asleep. Figures.

Again, racing home (or to the next interview city) and I was alone with a great sunset.

This one, though, was on my way home for a weekend. This shot doesn’t do it justice, because it was seriously one of the most gorgeous displays I’ve ever seen.

This year, I’m taking a course that explores the marriage of Art with Medicine and Wellness. One of the stipulations of the course is that we make time to visit museums, aquariums, etc to help boost our wellness. The Georgia Aquarium is one of the very, very few aquariums to house Whale Sharks, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit when I was in Atlanta. I really wish I would have had more time there!

One morning right before I left home for the majority of three weeks straight. Foggy yet golden, I couldn’t help but snap a shot to remind me of home.

Thank you notes are the bane of my existence. I was raised to express gratitude where it is due, so I’ve always been a fan of handwritten notes. I had no idea that I would be writing 4, 5, or 6 or more per program, though. Mentors have pressed upon me that for Pediatrics, thank you notes are pretty important, so I should make sure each one is personalized because all of them may wind up in my file, and if they are verbatim alike, it could be a mark against me so….. I spend a lot of time writing these things.

In one city, I came into town a bit early to catch up with an old friend from college at a local coffee shop before dinner with the residents. I wanted the chance to walk the city to get a good feel for it, and as I made my way to the coffee shot, I happened to notice the sky. This shot doesn’t really capture the cotton-candy sky, but I still liked the way it turned out anyway.

I left one program just in time to sit at a coffee shop in a different city for an hour or two before meeting the residents of another program for dinner, so I took that time to compose more thank you notes.

Niagara Falls at dusk! 🙂

Probably one of my favorite shots. It doesn’t quite look real, and this is #nofilter.

There was one interview that was really, really far away. Luckily, the Handsome could go with me and we made the executive decision to take the Ladybug with us and stop over at the halfway point, Niagara Falls. She LOVED it, and I am so glad that we weren’t deterred from bringing her with us. The first thing she said was “Whoa!” which was quickly followed by, “Mommy! BIG WATER!” All three of us marked off a couple new states and this little one got to add a new country to her passport as well!

I never knew the northeast was so pretty, even in late autumn! One thing I didn’t get to take a photo of: while driving through the mountains I saw where a semi took out the biggest black bear I’ve ever seen. So sad!

On the very first morning where I was supposed to be traveling to an interview, I went out to our deck for some meditation before beginning the long drive. It was so peaceful until the small flock of geese came by to interrupt me. Not a bad way to start out an interview season, I think.

I am almost done with my interview season. Some of the advice I got from last year’s graduating class were to wrap up the interview season before Christmas break, but that didn’t work out for me. I’ve been on a ton already, but I still have 5 more in January, and I am really excited for those programs. I’ve been keeping a running “rank list” and my top 5 are very clear in my mind already, programs that I loved to pieces. I’m hoping a few of my last interviews also make it into that category.

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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.

“I Think There’s Bone Marrow in My Cleavage” and Other Things You Don’t Want to Hear in Lab

Oh my. This week has been one of the longest, most tiring weeks of work I’ve ever had.

The madness started Tuesday night. We’re running an experiment that is called “Flow”, and it’s one of the longest, most complicated protocols I’ve ever ran. Thank goodness I wasn’t doing this alone. To prep for two long days in a row, I went to bed early on Tuesday night, before 9pm. That was probably my first mistake. I woke up a little after 1am and could not for the life of me go back to sleep. I tried everything. Milk, reading, BBC’s Planet Earth, laying in bed, sleeping on the couch… nothing worked. At 4:30 am I gave up and started getting ready for work. I knew this was not going to be good. I used to work in developmental neuropsychology, where we studied the effects of sleep loss on the brain’s processing of speech sounds… so I know my mental acuity for the day was not going to be sharp.

Somehow, T and I managed to pull off 13 surgeries in a record 6 hours. Not without consequences, though. I took a quick break to drink some water. My lunchbox is black, and one side has a loose thread on it that is frayed. As I took a drink from my water bottle, I saw the frayed end of my lunchbox and I literally jumped because I thought I saw a mouse. Hallucinations are not what I like to have on stressful days.

It didn’t get much better when I got home, either. I kept forgetting words, and David had to fill them in for me. So again, I went to bed early, and went into work early to set up so we could hit the ground running.

Things you do not want to hear in lab on an already-stressful day:

“I think I got bone marrow in my cleavage.” (Normal people never hear this sort of thing, right?!?)

“The cage flooded. Do you remember the numbers?”

“Someone stole our centrifuge.”

“The machine we reserved is… broken…”

“She can only run our samples if we get them there before 3:00.”

My brain was fried by the time we were done, at 5:30. I didn’t even have time to really grab lunch. I inhaled my PB&J sandwich while running down the hallway to one of the labs we were using. I left the lab a mess when I left for the day, I was too tired to bother with it. I am so glad it’s over. And we even got results! Which means we’re going to repeat it in a few weeks. (And, T treated us to lunch yesterday as a reward… in addition to letting us go early.) Until then, I’m going to go over my protocol again and clean it up a bit. This protocol is ridiculous, and I refuse to be that scatterbrained and overwhelmed next time.