One of best perks about third year is the freedom to do some of our rotations at other hospitals. So, my husband and I decided to take full advantage and sign up to our family medicine rotation in the Central Valley. We’d heard some really good things, like that family medicine residents were the only residents around, so they see not only family patients, but also several of the specialty patients. After checking to make sure they could take the both of us at the same time (including providing a housing option where we could stay together, since we’re, you know, married), we agreed to spend our four weeks of family in Hanford, CA.
Ready for a little bit of an adventure, we were pleasantly surprised. Here are just a few of the things we loved about Hanford.
1. The hospitality! Each one of the eight family residents, as well as the faculty, made a point to learn our names within the first two days we were there. We quickly felt at home with residents as they reached out to help us in any way possible.
2. Dr. Engeberg, the family medicine residency program director. For Cody and I, he embodies many of the qualities we hope to possess someday as family physicians (did I mention I think I want to do family medicine?): Down-to-earth, unassuming, and very sharp, he is a man who cares deeply for his patients, cares about their stories. To Cody’s surprise, and mine, he made several efforts to intentionally spend time with us. One morning, he sat down to breakfast with us just to get to know us better. Over the next few weeks, we often found ourselves seated on the couch in his office, listening to stories from his career or picking his brain about some aspect of family medicine. This kind of face time is hard to come by these days. We loved it.
3. Two great national parks, tantalizingly close: Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite. While Cody and I only had time for Sequoia, our one day among the giant sequoias while the snow was falling was magical enough for me to justify the entire month in Hanford.
4. Free food. Undoubtedly, this perk is enough to draw many medical students with our collective penchant for free things. We were unaware of this feature of the rotation until we arrived, so it felt a little bit like winning the lottery. Absolutely free food, any time we walked into the cafeteria, day or night.
5. Morning bike rides. I know not everyone would love a 6:15 am bike ride in 42 degree weather, but for some reason, it was really refreshing. The hospital was about four miles from our apartment, so it made for a nice half-hour ride in the mornings. Until, that is, the Tule Fog rolled in. The Tule Fog, we learned, is a dense fog particular to the central valley that is present most mornings throughout the winter. Thickest fog I’ve ever seen in my life.
6. Specialty clinics/No other student competition: We actually spent only half of our time in a family medicine clinic, the rest was spent working in specialty clinics, including Neurology, Orthopedics, Ophthalmology, Surgery, HIV clinic, Obstetrics, among others. Almost always, it was just the resident and I working with an attending who loved teaching to a medical student, as students are more of a rarity away from the academic institutions. This definitely made our days fly by, as we were always seeing something new.