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

The Power of ‘Meaning’

Angie, Fourth Year Medical StudentWhile boiling raw beets for my mom- she swears by them for helping lower her blood pressure- I came across a Google news story titled, “Tearjerker! Angelina Jolie’s Speech at the Governors Awards Will Make You Cry.” Curious, I clicked on the link and found myself indeed moved by Angelina Jolie’s speech.

Above all [my mother] was very clear that nothing would mean anything if I didn’t live a life of use to others. I didn’t know what that meant for a long time… it was only when I began to travel and look and live beyond my home that I understand my responsibility to others. -Angelina Jolie

I could not agree more with her words about living a purposeful life to the fullest. During the last couple months, I have asked myself too many times why I am choosing to pursue a career that will daily ask demand me to choose between two jealous loves I love most- my patients and those I call family. The next four years of residency will be brutal, exhilarating, and exhausting because it will be the time to try to learn everything in the field of obstetrics and gynecology to come out ready to practice or pursue fellowship. I am realistic- it will be stressful making sacrifices and feeling like I may not be able to make everyone 100% happy all the time.

So why am I still here? It is because the pursuit of medicine in the field of obstetrics and gynecology brings my life meaning. With the skills, experiences, and support I have been blessed with these twenty-seven years, I find greatest peace and energy when I am placing the wellbeing and comfort of my patients before that of my own. This seems counterintuitive, but a TED talk by health psychologist Kelly McGonigal recently helped me see that the new science also supports this idea that stress- when attached to something meaningful- may actually be beneficial. One study looked at the impact of stress on longevity: overall, there was a 43% increase in the risk of death for those who believed they had high stress and that stress had a large impact on health. However, those with high stress who did not perceive stress as negative were amongst those least likely to die. Furthermore, another study found the positive impact of giving to others on stress-related mortality.

I have been so thankful for my parents who have not asked me for anything more than to come home to have dinner with them when I am free. I am also so thankful for my sister who has taken the time to travel with me to some of my interviews; my significant other who helped me first survive, then taught me to thrive in medical school; and my lifelong friends who have forgiven me for my selfishness and stuck by me through the toughest times. These people bring my life meaning, and will continue to balance the negative stress that I will inevitably face at times.

This interview process has been ‘stressful.’ When I talk with my interviewers about my passion for women’s health and medicine, my heart begins racing and the rate of my words speeds up. But I remind myself that this stress is positive, and just a natural response to my perception of a worthy challenge in the pursuit of living a meaningful and responsible life helping others.

It has been a wonderful experience meeting my fellow applicants and and I wish you all the best as we continue to pursue the common goal of becoming excellent OBGYN doctors!

You can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges. And you’re remembering you don’t have to face them alone. –Kelly McGonigal


The Significance of September 15

Angie, Fourth Year Medical Student

It’s official––I am applying to Obstetrics-Gynecology residency! After lots of agonizing, internal debates and talks with those who know me best, I decided at the end of my third year that the specialty that specializes in women and has a love for new life (whether in bringing babies into this world or re-suspending pelvic organs back to Baden-Walker “0” to give women improved qualities of life) is the one for me!

I’ve taken my Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (the 9-block computerized exam at your local Prometric site) and Clinical Skills (the ridiculously overpriced 12-patient clinical exam), and have now recently finished the Gynecology-FPMRS 4-week elective aka “sub-internship” or “audition rotation.” I personally don’t like the term “audition rotation” as it sounds like I am putting on a performance.  I much rather prefer to call it a “sub-I” because it reminds me that I have more responsibilities to my patient and my team. As much as I’ve enjoyed my role as a 4th year student/sub-I, it can still be an awkward transition with Epic (the electronic medical record system) replacing a lot of the duties a medical student used to fulfill to help the residents. Nonetheless, I loved working with “the greats” in laparoscopy and robotic surgeries, as well as teaching knot-tying to and organizing the schedules for the third year students on the service.

So this week, I fortuitously had the week off before starting another elective in OB-GYN. I have been working on my residency application on ERAS, which consists of inputting everything significant to medicine since beginning college to generate a standard format curriculum vitae, completing your personal statement and FINALLY deciding that’s the last draft to upload, making sure your letters of recommendations are uploaded by the Dean’s office, and picking programs to apply to! It sounds pretty straightforward, but in reality as most who have been/are going through the process would probably agree, this has take a lot of mental and emotional preparation as well.

September 15 is a significant day for senior medical students; this is not a deadline, but the opening date of submitting your residency application on ERAS (deadlines are program specific, usually around Nov 1). As getting into residency spots has gotten even more competitive this year, most students (myself included) will be ready to certify and submit their ERAS application by the crack of dawn this Sunday for those on west coast time. After that, I will wait for Monday to come and for programs to actually start looking at my application and waiting for interview offers!

However, what else will I have to look forward to on September 15? Well, my September issue of Vogue informs me that 3.1 Philip Lim x Target collection will be available that day. Also, a quick google search found that September 15 is “International Day of Democracy”. As I try to have perspective during these critical months until ANOTHER critical day (March 21) in a medical student’s career, I am thankful for the freedom to pursue higher levels of education and the wonderful mentors in medicine who have encouraged me to come this far. Oh and for Tar-jay for offering “designer collections” at fractions of the cost for poor medical students.

Good lucks class of 2014! Look forward to hearing about your progress and meeting you on the interview trail!

Ask not “what” but more importantly “why”

Angie, Third Year Medical Student

As a medical student, you quickly realize what areas of medicine you better understand and other areas that you have no idea what is going on and would rather avoid like the plaque. For me, that plaque I like to avoid is cardiology, more specifically EKGs. Sure, I know that a ‘p’ wave corresponds with atrial depolarization and that “rabbit ears” indicate right bundle branch block. But put a strip in front of me, and my heart begins racing and I’m sure I develop sinus tachycardia (what the heck is that??).

I am currently more than halfway through my three week block of inpatient Internal Medicine at White Memorial Medical Center in Los Angeles. When I began, I was a bit skeptical to be at a non-academically affiliated hospital, albeit they have residents so it is still a teaching hospital. I didn’t expect too much teaching, and figured I would have to rely on my review book and review questions. Boy was I wrong! The very first day that I met my two residents and my attending, who was (surprise!) a cardiologist, they started setting expectations and began to question me on “the basics.” Whoops, too bad I didn’t even know how to replete potassium. My senior resident kindly let me leave early that first day (maybe I looked really overwhelmed), and I got back to my on-campus housing exhausted and anxious for the next day.

That very first week I was inundated with questions, looking up answers to those questions, and presenting my findings. My senior taught me how to replete electrolytes, and then asked me everyday exactly how much I would give to patients with low lytes. During rounds, my attending set the bar high for the residents especially as well as for me.  If he didn’t understand why a patient was still in-house when there was no acute medical problem to address, he asked me to look up the evidence. I made sure to know my patients well and to not miss a thing.  He said the very first day, “ask WHY, not what.”

But through the rigorous and often overwhelming academic aspects of this rotation (there is SO much medicine to learn!!), I have thoroughly been enjoying every moment of it. And I have to thank my intern, my senior, and the attending physician for all that I have gained in the past one and a half weeks. The attending clearly set the bar high and always gives feedback on how we could have better managed the patients (it’s always easier in retrospect he says), but he also sets a very good spirit of team work and acknowledges that he is most critical of himself, which is why he challenges us as well. He has taught me to practice evidence-based medicine, NOT anecdotal medicine.

My senior resident has a self-deprecating sense of humor and I’ve noticed that he picks up on everything. When he notices I look a bit stressed, he always acknowledges it concernedly to the point where I have tried to look as confidant and well-slept as possible (pretty much impossible). He always asks me questions, and if I don’t know it well, he’ll give me time to look it up and present it to him. Almost eerily, my senior can predict what questions my attending will ask me the next day, and I have made a better impression when I get pimped the 2nd time around. Apparently that’s how it’s supposed to work. He is a great teacher even during the crazy busy times, and I want to emulate his actions when I become a resident with a medical student shadowing me.

My intern is one of the hardest working interns I have worked with, and he gets the award for “Least likely to complain.” Even though I feel more tired than ever, I have chosen to adapt and continue pushing myself because I see that my intern often stays overnight to get work done and never seems to be dying.  My intern has taught me to stay calm, work hard, and do it without whining (although that might be hard for me…).

With all these important lessons I have been learning, I can’t help but now be grateful for getting a cardiologist for an attending, and being pushed beyond my comfort level to tackle something I once feared so much. I have a plan on how to tackle an EKG now. Even if it looks like just a squiggle of lines, I know that I have enough knowledge to figure out the basics of the EKG and go from there.  And sometimes, if the EKG looks really weird, it may be that it needs to be repeated! What’s more, I have been learning how to correlate the EKG findings clinically as well. What’s the point of knowing what an EKG says if you can’t answer the why ultimately help your patient?

Also, here is the link to an article in the New Yorker by the amazing Atul Gawande that I couldn’t put down. I wish I could say I’m so very well-read and that I found this all by myself, but actually my attending gave the article to us and said we need to read more (sad day when I am indirectly told I have become an uncultured-journal-articles-only-for-me kind of student).