Lauren, Fourth Year Medical Student

Well, it’s been quite a few months since my last post, and quite a bit has changed in my life. For one, I’m not even a medical student anymore, having successfully graduated at the end of May! It was a very weird transition period between graduation and actually starting my first intern shift. I had about three weeks of downtime, moving from Loma Linda to my parent’s house, then moving a fraction of stuff into my new apartment. It was a total “limbo” zone – just completing medical school and receiving a piece of paper that says, but not feeling like a real doctor yet.

Where did I end up? The match could have gone better, but ultimately, I did get a pretty sweet job, if only for a year. What I am referring to, is that I did not match into a categorical surgery position. Monday of match week, when the rest of my classmates were jumping up and down, high-fiving each other in glee, I was sobbing in the Dean’s office, trying to figure out which few remaining jobs I could apply for. By Wednesday of match week, I had been offered (and happily accepted) a one year preliminary position with UC San Francisco Department of Surgery.

UCSF is an amazing program, definitely the best on the West Coast and arguably one of the best in the nation. A preliminary year is just a one year position, but I have all the same roles and responsibilities as the categorical interns. I do have to reapply and attend interviews this year, but I will have several months’ experience as a physician, and am confident I can land a categorical position for next year.

I started my intern year June 21 on the Trauma/General Surgery service at San Francisco General Hospital, the level 1 trauma center for the area. In the past month I have lost count of the number of stabbings, gunshot wounds, suicide attempts, and even plane crash victims that have rolled through the Emergency Department doors. I participated in my first mass casualty incident, assisting in triaging the victims of the SFO Asiana plane crash. Our team was just finishing am rounds when the attending received a phone call there had been a plane crash. 30 minutes later the whole team was in the ED getting the trauma rooms geared up, not knowing what injuries we would be facing. It was a little scary, but we trusted in our excellent group of trauma surgeon attendings to get us through the day.

In one week, I will have completed my first month as a surgery intern, and will be moving on to a rotation at the main UCSF medical center, where I will be rotating through the rest of the year. Having grown up North of San Francisco, I knew quite a bit about the city. What I didn’t know is that while the rest of the nation is having a toasty summer, it is in the 50’s and constantly foggy in SF. I think I saw the sun last week. And I am most definitely enjoying the cool weather as opposed to the scorching heat in Southern CA.

Hooding Ceremony

There is a lot I miss about Loma Linda, having spent 5 years there. The people, favorite restaurants (and coffee shops), Dr. Werner’s lectures, the free pens in the Dean’s office (seriously, I love those pens and regret not taking more before I left). But now it’s time for me to leave Loma Linda behind (though I will be back to interview this winter), and start getting familiar with my new home for the year. It will be a weird transition moving out of this limbo period, and I am looking forward to the many new experiences that await me during intern year.

Best wishes to the medical students at Loma Linda, work hard on your rotations, and don’t forget to always do your best!

Lauren Ritz, MD PGY-1, UC San Francisco Department of Surgery