Third year and fourth year of medical school truly flew by. Here I am, a few days after graduating from medical school, still in disbelief that I am now a medical doctor. (!!!)
It’s been a long time coming.
Medical school was quite literally the best of times and the worst of times. In four short years, I took (and passed!) three board exams, saw my first patients, learned how to suture, tie surgical knots and delivered a baby. I realized I love the operating room. I traveled the world. I cried more than ever before, and I grieved–over the deaths of close family members and of patients I cared for.
Some of the people I met during the first week of school are now my closest friends. I chose a specialty (obstetrics and gynecology) and matched into a fantastic residency program. I proudly wore a thick black robe and sat under a sweltering sun on graduation day (sweating profusely, but still proud).
So now here we are, at the end of one chapter and ready to begin the next. Without a doubt, the upcoming years will be trying and I will be working harder than I ever have in my whole life. But I am also looking forward to training in a specialty I love and growing as a physician and as a woman. It’s officially time to retire the short white coat (which I actually haven’t worn in months lol) and start mentally preparing myself to wear the long one and the responsibility that comes with it.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I’ve been through a lot in the meantime.
For starters, I took (and passed!) Step 1! I went into hiding for 6 weeks to study for this exam, hence the absence from nearly all social media.
Then, after my Step 1 exam, I took a trip to South America–a much needed getaway. (I’ll devote a separate blog post to this trip, which will include the highlights from my stay in Buenos Aires and a side trip to Uruguay.) But for now I’ll just say I ate my fair share of steaks and drank plenty of Malbec.
And so now–finally–I have started my third year of medical school! Clerkships! I’m three weeks into my first rotation, and so far I’m still trying to figure this whole thing out. My first two weeks I was on the inpatient neurology stroke service, which was an amazing experience to jump into, albeit pretty fast-paced. Now I’m starting my two weeks of outpatient neurology, which so far has been much more laid back but still quite interesting.
Every day I just try to become more comfortable talking to patients, hone my physical exam skills, and learn more about clinical practice. Even though it’s a huge adjustment transitioning from classwork to clerkships, so far I’ve enjoyed it so so so much more. After all, this is why I came to medical school–to see patients!
I’ll continue to keep you all updated as I progress through third year, and (as always) I’ll be sure to share all the fun times along the way!
Yes, I realize December is almost halfway over and I am just now writing about my favorite moments from November. But things happen. This week marks the last week of my pre-clerkship classes, and I’ve also been transitioning into studying for my board exam coming up in January (the infamous USMLE Step 1 Exam), so school stuff has been a lot lately. Oh, and my laptop decided to go crazy on me so I had to replace my hard drive. Yay.
But, better late than never, so here goes a list of my favorite things from November 2016. Or, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, things I was thankful for this past month:
Thanksgiving. Duh. This is the highlight of November. What’s not to love about Thanksgiving? This year I was extra lucky and had two Thanksgiving dinners–one with my relatives in South Carolina (the annual Thanksgiving family reunion), and another one the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day. The second Thanksgiving was just with my parents and sister because mom worked Thanksgiving and couldn’t join us in South Carolina. My sister and I prepared the whole meal, and we didn’t hold back even though it was going to just be the four of us. I mean, if you’re going to do Thanksgiving, you’ve gotta go all out.
Election day. No, the election didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. But I greatly appreciate living in a country where I can exercise my right to vote and make my voice heard.
Wilderness workshop. The Emergency Medicine Interest Group and Wilderness Medicine Interest Group at my medical school put together a workshop designed to teach people important survival skills and tips for enjoying time in the great outdoors. Now, the closest thing I have ever done to camping was when I was in Girl Scouts and my Brownie troop camped in our troop leader’s backyard. But, I’d really like to go ~real~ camping one day, so getting advice from some of my classmates who are avid outdoorsmen/women was great. And I learned how to start a fire out of twigs and leaves and stuff which was pretty cool.
Falling leaves. In my October Favorites post I wrote about how much I love fall. Part of the reason I love it so much is because I loveeee when the leaves change colors. Campus looked so so so beautiful this past month with the orange, yellow and red leaves all over the ground.
Therapy Dogs. A student group organized an event in our library the week before we left for Thanksgiving break that included therapy dogs–perfect timing seeing as we were in the midst of studying for an exam! The dogs usually visit patients in the Children’s Hospital, and they even have their own trading cards. Too cute.
During my fall break last week, I (finally) got my torn meniscus repaired. Having surgery on my knee gave me an interesting opportunity that I haven’t had in a while–a chance to be a surgery patient.
I’ve had surgery before, but this time, as a medical student, it felt a little different. I understood a lot more of what was going on with my procedure and who was involved in my care. And of course I thought about everything that could possibly go wrong during surgery. Even though the meniscus repair was a pretty minor procedure and not very invasive, with any medical procedure there is always potential for something to go wrong. So naturally I found myself feeling a little anxious about all the possibilities for a bad outcome.
Getting surgery was a reminder of how overwhelming, stressful, and anxiety-provoking being a patient can be. As I sat basically naked under a hospital gown and blankets, doctors and nurses came in and out of my room to talk to me, started an IV, asked me questions, marked the site of surgery…. I verified my name and birthdate I don’t know how many times, and explained over and over to various people my idea of what was going on (arthroscopy of the right knee and repair of the lateral meniscus) to make sure everyone was on the same page.
It was a lot.
I felt lucky to have my parents there with me pre-op, which helped me feel a little more relaxed (even though they may have been more nervous than I was). I also felt lucky that I had a general awareness of what role all the various nurses and doctors played in my care and a good understanding of the procedure itself.
But I realize not everyone has these comforts going into surgery. Some people may show up for their surgery completely alone (especially if it’s an emergency situation), and many may not have a solid understanding of the procedure. I can only imagine that in either or both of those cases a patient’s anxiety would markedly increase.
Being a patient while in medical school was particularly interesting because one day, pretty soon, I will be on the other side of things and be a doctor taking care of my own patients. I’m thankful I was able to have some moments of introspection and reflection about what it feels like to be a patient because I think it can be easy for physicians to just view patients as a constellation of disease processes, injuries, or symptoms instead of as a whole person with feelings and fears. In the future I want to always keep in mind how I felt as a patient: vulnerable, nervous, restless, unsure. I don’t want to lose sight of what that felt like, because I’m sure my future patients will have those very same emotions–and many more.
I thank God that my surgery went well. The care and attention I received before and after my surgery was absolutely wonderful. (And I’m sure I received great care during the surgery as well because I’m recovering fabulously.) I couldn’t be more proud to be a student at an institution that really values patient care. (Sounds cliche but I really mean it.)
Labor Day Weekend 2016 has (sadly) come to an end. (But I refuse to say goodbye to summer because the temperature is still in the 90s.)
This year turned out to be a pretty relaxing LDW (after the part where I endured a pretty grueling final exam for cardio, of course). I mainly hung out around the house, tidying up/organizing/decorating. But everything changed when I came across an email about an upcoming discussion about artist Kehinde Wiley! I’ve admired his work for a while, because I love how he creates incredible, colorful portraits of people of color that are inspired by historical works of art. (If you want a better summary of his life and his work (trust me, you do), check this out.)
So naturally, when I realized that his exhibit, “A New Republic” was on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, I had to go. I recruited my best friend Michaela (also a huge Wiley fan) to come with me, and we spent our day off from class flourishing away in Richmond.
I was super excited for this exhibit and I can say that I was not disappointed. Wiley’s work is infinitely more beautiful in person, when you can really appreciate how detailed and (how massive) every painting truly is. I really was in awe of all of his work. I couldn’t even pick a favorite painting.
“A New Republic” also included some of Wiley’s sculptures and stained glass pieces, which were new to me because I had only heard of his paintings. But these works, especially the stained glass, were just as awe-inspiring as the large-scale portraits. Clearly, this man is talented.
Painting is about the world we live in. Black people live in the world. My choice is to include them. This is my way of saying yes to us.
Bottom line: If any of you ever have the chance to see Kehinde Wiley’s work in person, please please please go! You won’t regret it.