My Stroll

Ryan, Third Year Medical StudentNormally, my posts follow a linear story. Today I’m going to break that format and throw you a couple of random things that have been going on lately!

- I vowed I would not do this while writing posts for fear that I would look like I am trying to curry favor with anyone responsible for evaluations. But because I have already finished my rotation in pediatrics, I have got to throw out massive appreciation for Dr. Catalon, my most recent preceptor. Dr. Catalon runs a general pediatric clinic in Moreno Valley, and I had the privilege of rotating under his guidance for 4 weeks. Not only did I learn an incredible amount under his tutelage, I laughed so often I’m pretty sure I added 10 years to my life! The reason I’m sharing this with you is because so often I’m afraid that young pre-med students or other pre-clinical med students have a preconceived notion that attending doctors exist to haze and embarrass med students. Well, that simply is not true! Maybe things were like that in the early history of medical school, but in my experience, things aren’t even close to as awful as they may be dramatized in anecdotes or popular television shows.

Nom nom nom

Out to Lunch with Dr. Catalon

- At long last, the end is finally approaching. With the recent, very successful match completed by the class of 2014, it is finally our turn to begin the process, to begin “Strolling through the Match.” For those who might not know what “The Match” is, it’s the process by which 4th year medical students get jobs for post-graduate training. Even though one is technically considered a full-fledged doctor after graduation, these residency programs are (for the most part) the final step towards becoming a board certified physician. I won’t go in depth about it as many of my fellow bloggers have recently discussed the match in detail, but I’ll revisit the process throughout the year as I get closer and closer to finding out where I will continue my training. So at this point, my classmates and I are making our final decisions as to what specialty we are going into, setting up our senior year schedules, and applying for away rotations (also known as “audition rotations”). And soon after, we’ll begin applying for residency spots and flying all over the country to impress interviewers everywhere. I have 100% affirmed my decision to apply for residencies in Emergency Medicine, and I could not be more excited!

Exciting!

- April Fools’ Day was a week ago, and my wife and I had planned the perfect prank. It seems that everyone and their pet dog announces they have either gotten engaged or become pregnant on April 1st, so not wanting to miss out, we posted this picture:

April Fools!

Preggo?

You might sarcastically be thinking, “Wow Ryan, real creative joke there.” as you roll your eyes and continue reading. But here’s the best part about our joke… it wasn’t a joke! That’s right, I am proud to announce that my wife and I are expecting our first child this coming October!! Brianna told me by giving me a Valentine’s Day gift… little Cincinnati Reds infant onesies. I was absolutely enthralled. And I still am!

Go Reds!

 

Already a Reds Fan!

 

Boy? Girl?

 

13 Weeks

POP

We are SO Excited!

- I am only 10 weeks away from completing the core rotations required for my 3rd year of medical school: 4 weeks of family medicine and 6 weeks of OBGYN. Soon after, I’ll have another onslaught of exams to survive (nay, defeat!), and then 4th year begins with the fun adventure of matching! Stay tuned, many exciting things to come! :)

365 Days Later

Danny, First Year Medical StudentFebruary 14, 2014 – the one year anniversary of my acceptance to the Loma Linda University School of Medicine.

I rifled through my closet trying to find the perfect tie. After all, it was a very special occasion. My family was in town! Once I settled on the perfect tie, I proceeded to the Centennial Complex for family day. There is something fantastic about reuniting with family in person and not over video chat. Why were they here? Let me tell you.

One of the wonderful things about Loma Linda is that they have a special day set aside for your families to get a taste of what we go through on a day-to-day basis. They experience three of our lectures (Physiology, Physical Diagnosis, and Cell Structure & Function). In addition, we get a chance to take them around campus to show them our new state of the art Simulation Center (it’s pretty amazing), Physical Diagnosis lab, and other labs around campus.

At the end of the day, our parents attend a very special Freshman Dedication Ceremony. This year, Pastor Randy Roberts shared a very special message about balance in our lives, and then we received our very own School of Medicine bibles.

All in all, it was a wonderfully fulfilling day. Why? Because it’s a wonderful reminder that at Loma Linda, we’re a part of a family that isn’t just about learning facts, we’re learning to heal in more ways that one – we’re learning how To Make Man Whole.

Questions

Leanna, Fourth Year Medical StudentThere have been some questions asked of me and statements said to me, especially during third year, that I’ve had to think long and hard about answering, making sure I didn’t say anything too weird or inappropriate.

1) “You must be so smart!”

At first, before med school even began, I may have actually secretly agreed with this well-intentioned compliment. I did decently on the MCAT and got interviews and acceptance to some great med schools – thus, in my mind’s eye, I imagined continuing my strong undergrad performance in medical school. Wrong. I cannot even begin to describe what a shock it was, realizing how different undergrad and medical school were. Not that my undergrad education didn’t prepare me well, but medical school demanded 500% more effort to simply pass. As I alluded to in an earlier post, I eventually realized how to change up my study habits and outlook about halfway through first year. Essentially, any decent grades or exam scores I have received since that point I can attribute solely to hard work.

Of course, having some degree of natural intelligence/sound reasoning is quite helpful too, but I passionately believe that medical school is still 90% extraordinarily hard work – hard work that entails ongoing sacrifices of a social life, normal emotional life, and even a little of your soul (I might be kidding about that last one – or maybe not). “Balance” is a great idea and a term that is thrown around a lot, but the “balanced” life of a solid medical student is skewed heavily towards his/her school and away from nearly everything else that a normal twenty-something year old experiences.

First and second year demand incessant studying. Take a day off if you are convicted in that regard, but the other 6 days of the week must be devoted to school. If they aren’t, you will fall drastically behind, or even fail. You will log onto Facebook and see friends and family incessantly posting pictures of hiking, traveling, shopping, – things that are now reserved to Christmas break or the rare full weekend off. What the heck did you do with your free time before you started medical school? During third year, and maybe even a rotation or two of fourth year, you will be waking up when it is pitch black and coming home when it is pitch black. Someone will ask, isn’t it really hot in Loma Linda right now? And you won’t know because you’re inside the hospital all day, on inhumanely long shifts. To receive honors on a third year rotation requires that you pass the respective board with flying colors (implying that you’ve been studying every moment of downtime you have – while eating, in the bathroom, grocery shopping, while on the treadmill), that you have consistently given 110% hard work on the rotation, especially when being watched by residents and attendings, and that you have done all the additional “if-you-want-to-receive-honors” requirements, such as writing pathophysiology papers and scoring well on quizzes. Third year is not a year of rest; it is all the mental demands of first and second year now coupled with performance and application based on that material.

My sheer hope is that this in no way comes across as a pity party. I want to simply dispel the notion that medical school requires of one to be placed on a pedestal; no, it is being an extraordinarily focused and devoted student for four straight years that will get you to graduation. Like I mentioned, intelligence still plays some part, but at least in my case (and I know many who would agree with me), the energy that keeps me going has little to do with intelligence but everything to do with raw diligence and perseverance, driven by a passionate thought of there is no other career in my life that I would rather be doing (honestly though, being a stunt women would be really awesome).

2) You speak Spanish?

Usually, I am tempted to say that I do – well, that my Spanish skills are decent, and if we are not looking for an in-depth conversation, I can get by. Unfortunately, trying to instantaneously translate as a patient is talking to me can be quite tricky.

Recently, in fact, I was in GI clinic and listening to a conversation between the doctor and the patient (both of whom are native Spanish speakers), while trying to translate in my head.

Doc: So how are you feeling?

Patient: Fine; I am thankful to God for the blue horses, and my family’s legs

Doc: Excellent. It appears to me and to you that to me that you appear to want to see results of the scopes.

Patient: Yes. Give protection and truth.

Doc: Everything is breakfast.

Patient: Why is running cancer?

Doc: Cancer is a low probability [YES. Got that one]

Patient: Next year we repeat the trip to the small shoe store?

Doc: No, in three years we repeat scope and tears from the sky, along with stomachs and arms.

Patient: I am confluent with you doctor. God bless you and your beetles.

This may be a slight exaggeration, but have it be known that I greatly look forward to refining my Spanish during the rest of my career, because I really need to do so.

3) So Women’s Health clinic went well today?
YEEEEEAAAAAH I’M THE PAP SMEAR QUEEN YO! (Note: This is never, ever, ever an acceptable Facebook status)

4) How do you do it all, remembering and retaining all that medical information?
Comfort food (Garlic and butter croutons during the week; frozen yogurt on the weekends),
Friends (someone to pat you on the back and remind you that your life has a small bit of inherent meaning to it. Regardless of the fact that your surgery attending’s main goal is to pulverize any self-worth that you have),
Exercise (cardio step classes set to mash-ups of Eminem/Justin Bieber – a mega dose of inspiration)
Incessant studying (see question #1. Do have any idea of how many times I have had to focus on my portable pharmacology flash card set while standing in line at the grocery store, and resist the temptation to read the tabloids’ headlines of Paris Hilton’s set of quintuplet love children with Bigfoot? Many times)

5) Tell me about one of the greatest challenges that you had during medical school (naturally this question is asked quite a few times by my interviewers during the residency interview season)
Well, off the top of my head one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced during medical school was on my surgery rotation. I was on a two-week block of vascular surgery and was waking up at 3:45am to make sure that saw all my patients in time, updated the list in time, began my notes in time, and providing offerings to the gods of vascular surgery – the vascular fellows and attendings.

Anyway, by the time rounds were underway around 8am or so, I was famished, starving, nearly emaciated. On this particular day, I had eaten blueberries and a junky little 90-calorie Special K bar that morning. Naturally I was desperate for food, anything. And as luck would have it, the first patient my team and I saw that morning was sitting up in bed, eating a tasty, mouth-watering meal straight off of the gourmet Loma Linda VA Hospital breakfast menu. Pancakes and no-sugar-added maple syrup, with a cranberry juice box and a link of dry sausage. I couldn’t help my staring – the food was right there in front of me, at that delectable lukewarm room temperature I so craved.

It wasn’t long before the patient caught me staring, my eyes glazed over as I the thoughts of eating one of those little silver dollar pancakes ran through my mind. I want that. I want that pancake. Please. Give. It. To. Me.

“You want this pancake?”

The patient was asking me this. What? No. No. How did he know? Was it the shrieking sound of my stomach over the beeping med-surg monitors? Possibly. That wild hungry look of a castaway lost at sea for a month? Perhaps. Did he know that I had been up since the wee hours of the morning running off of a Special K strawberry breakfast bar? Eh…I suppose so, if he had excellent intuition.

Nevertheless, I was in a major dilemma. Do I accept this patient’s kindhearted gesture and cram the pancake in my mouth while we are debriefing with the attending about the care of the patient? Or do I refuse this offer that may potentially save my life and prevent a fatal hypoglycemic episode in order to save face with the vascular team and prevent myself from going down in Loma Linda VA history as The Girl Who Ate The Pancake?

Fortunately for my reputation, and unfortunately for my stomach, I found a happy medium of gently, kindly refusing the patient’s offer and asking him to please enjoy his entire meal for me (in my mind, it was like YEAH YOU GO AHEAD AND EAT THOSE PANCAKES RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, BUDDY) while I paid attention to what was going on in the discussion of the patient’s recovery and prognosis.

That afternoon I got a huge Caeser salad and curly fries, and at the end of the rotation I received an excellent letter of recommendation from the surgery clerkship director. So, I think my self-control paid off and I am a better person because of it.

Match Day

Angie, Fourth Year Medical StudentToday was the Big Day. At 9 AM PDT I opened my letter and thought I matched to OBGYN at… Loma Linda! Keep reading…

Oops. I didn’t read the rest of the letter and just saw my medical school name of ‘Loma Linda…’ on the page. I’m very happy at this point and start telling everybody around me that I matched to Loma Linda. Then my friend next to me opens her letter and with a look of confusion says, “I matched at Loma Linda… no wait, Cinncinati!”

Oh. I realize maybe I should re-check my letter. I then read the WHOLE letter and at the very very bottom it states “Harbor-UCLA Med Ctr-CA.” The letter is all very confusing. Now I’m elated as this is my number one choice, where my significant other is currently an intern, and who also happened to be on the phone with me during this whole confusion. Tears are streaming down my face and I’m a mess, spilling my drink, yelling into my phone, and hugging those around me.

In the end, I didn’t need any practiced gasp-I’m-so-surprised-looks. Because I read my letter wrong. Then read it right. Then the real emotions came. Thank you God for taking me this far. Thank you family, friends, and readers who have been part of this journey.
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-angie k

The Big Week

This morning- at exactly 8:57 AM- I found out that I matched to residency!

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Angie, Fourth Year Medical Student

I texted my parents, sister, boyfriend, and friends immediately; and of course posted the good news on Facebook in anticipation of the boom of #matchday posts from my fellow 4th years. Today, I know I will be joining the health care workforce as a humble intern in the great states of California, Arizona, or Texas. Come Friday, I will know which program (that I interviewed at and ranked) I will match to for 4 years of OBGYN residency!

Just as some girls plan for weddings many years in advance, I too have been planning for for my BIG DAY- Match ceremony of course…

1) The Dress: I will be wearing something bright. For the pictures of course!

2) Guests: I invited my sister Judy to attend the Match ceremony. My boyfriend will not be able to make it since he will be in clinic all day. We are trying to figure out if we can Facetime when I open the letter though! I have been instructed to call my parents immediately with results. Of course Facebook and Instagram will immediately be updated.

3) Manicure: my friend who matched into Radiology last year told me to make sure to paint my nails so that all my photos of me holding my Match letter will show off my polished, feminine nails. Check. Will I go with a bold red or my signature pink?

4) The Letter: my friends and I will all wait to get our letters and open them at the same time! It’ll be so exciting and maybe a little bit chaotic. I can’t wait!

5) Emotions: There will probably be some tears in the room- of joy I hope!

6) Ca$h: while every medical school that participates in NRMP all have their Match ceremony on the same date and time, the logistics vary. At our medical school, each student is randomly called to the stage to pick up their letter and to put a $1 in a bowl. The last student called gets the $$$! While being the last one would be agonizing, since my friends and I are all gonna wait for one another, it wouldn’t be so bad if I were last… it would definitely cover our celebration lunch!

7) Thank You letters: I have so many people to contact about my Match results and to thank them for their support. First, a prayer of thanks to God for wherever He will take me next. Then, my parents, boyfriend, sister, mentors, friends, and extended family!

I can’t wait to share with you all what Friday brings. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Hope we all get a touch of Irish luck this week!

-Angie k