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Hello! It has been FAR too long since I last wrote, and I guess the only excuse that I can proffer is that med school has felt like a whirlwind these past few months. Since I last wrote, I finished my third year, enjoyed an amazingly relaxing two week vacation with a cruise to the western Caribbean, entered my fourth year with three busy and very different rotations, took the USMLE Step 2 exam, and then hit the pause button on M4 year to start my research year in the lab. Needless to say, I feel like I’ve been going nonstop this summer!

Although I’ve only experienced a small taste of fourth year, I can already say that it lives up to its reputation as being the best year of medical school. Unlike third year, in which we have to complete seven required clerkships with no time for electives, we have complete flexibility in picking our fourth year schedule, and get to take only rotations that we’re really interested in. I started the year with a cardiology subinternship. I had rotated through cardiology early my third year and loved the rotation, so I thought I’d do it again as a fourth year, especially since at the time I was still undecided between internal medicine and otolaryngology. It was a great month, and I learned a ton about managing patients as a sub-I (where, unlike as a third year, the patients really feel like your own, as you have no intern working with you and thus are the one who puts in all of the orders and gets pages when issues arise). This month was probably as steep of a learning curve as starting my M3 year, but by the end of the rotation, I felt significantly more confident in managing patients.

In June, I did an ENT elective, and loved just about every minute of it. I got to rotate through pediatric otolaryngology, audiology, laryngology, and the head and neck cancer service, and each week felt like an entirely new rotation, with an amazing diversity of surgeries. I especially enjoyed the pediatric rotation, as the surgeries tend to be quick and gratifying, and I love working with children. The department is small, so I felt like I really got to know the residents and attendings, and the rotation solidified my decision to apply into otolaryngology next fall. I’m already excited!

Beautiful Caribbean sunset on my post-M3 cruise!

I ended part one of my fourth year with a pathology rotation. My father is a pathologist, so I thought it would be fun to learn a little more about what he does day to day. There is also a large interplay between pathology and surgical fields, as the specimens the surgeons remove are sent to pathology, who then quickly call back with the final diagnosis. The rotation—which espouses a “self-directed learning” philosophy—was more relaxed than the previous two, allowing me to see various aspects of the field I found interesting, while also giving me some free time outside of the hospital. I used this time partly to study for my Step 2 exam, which I took last week (for the younger med students out there, don’t worry; the process is far less painful than studying for Step 1!)

The day after I took Step 2, I jumped right into the lab. I’m working with one of the otolaryngology attendings, looking at head and neck cancer stem cells and their regulatory factors (I’ll spare the details on this for now at least!). There are about ten other people in the lab, and everyone has been very welcoming and helpful, as it’s been about five years since I’ve worked in a lab and am definitely a little rusty! After just two weeks into my research, I can already tell that it’s going to be a great year, and I’m so happy I decided to do this research program.

I guess that sums up what I’ve been up to in these several months that I’ve been negligent in blogging. It’s been a beautiful, though hot, summer in Ann Arbor, and it’s been wonderful having some downtime to take advantage of all the outdoor activities the city has to offer this time of year. And, most excitingly, today marks the two-week countdown until the kickoff of the Michigan football season—a season opener that promises to be memorable as we take on the defending national champions, Alabama, down at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas!