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I’ve heard a (preposterous) rumor that my classmates and I are officially halfway done with our core M3 clinical rotations. I refuse to believe that this is fact, but figure it’s only fair that I pass the message along; never let it be said that I stood in the way of free speech or whatever.

Halfway there, pffffft. Sure.

I just needed an excuse to use a picture of Bon Jovi. Mission Accomplished.

I just needed an excuse to use a picture of Bon Jovi. Mission Accomplished.

What I can say for certain is that I’m officially done with my psychiatry rotation. I returned to the VA (where I first started out – nostalgia!) for my month of psych. I was overjoyed to discover that I felt a little less, well, dumb to be perfectly honest on this rotation than my previous two. While I’d like to think that this was due to cumulative clinical experience, it’s far more likely that it was due to better background knowledge heading in… which means that my next rotation, surgery, is going to be a hot mess. Yikes.

Getting ahead of myself – back to psych! I particularly enjoyed my time on the inpatient unit, where I felt like I really got to know my patients well and genuinely contributed to their care. I was able to relay more detailed information to the team (because I had the time to dedicate to more thorough conversations), get in touch with family members/other health providers for clarification, and advocate for my patients. Every single attending and resident I worked with was supportive and just generally awesome. The VA cafeteria and I are still not on speaking terms, but we were able to tolerate each other’s presence and remain relatively cordial.

We now find ourselves faced with a strange new critter, something called an “Intersession.” It’s not really a break per se: we have required stuff every day of the coming week except for Friday, and some days are actually quite full. It is most definitely a break from clinical duties at least, and a break from constantly being evaluated. A couple of the activities are meant to be more leisure than anything else. There’s a challenge obstacle course or something and let me tell you – the only thing I enjoy more than physical activity is physical activity outdoors. (Is my sarcasm shining through? I can get sassier if need be.) In typical form, I conveniently have a broken foot (though nearly healed! In regular shoes since yesterday, wahoo!) to parade around so no one can accuse me of wimping out. I’m pro-level when it comes to avoiding athletics.

I'm not sure what's going on here, but it looks treacherous.

I’m not sure what’s going on here, but it looks treacherous.

Following Intersession I will start surgery and I am TERRIFIED. I’ve unfortunately gone right ahead and placed epic pressure on myself in regards to this rotation, hoping for an epiphany one way or another in regards to what I want to pursue as my specialty. Up to this point I’ve at least modestly enjoyed everything and truly disliked nothing so I’m pretty clueless. I’m also deathly afraid of sleeping through my alarm because, as I believe I’ve already established previously, I am the world’s worst waker-upper. My body doesn’t believe it should have to get up before the sun no matter what the circumstances. My brain tries to convince her otherwise, but doesn’t put up much of a fight before, say, noon. It’s bad news bears. Buried underneath all of the anxiety, however, there is still a great sense of excitement. I’ve certainly enjoyed all of my experiences in the OR so far and maybe, just maybe, my surgery rotation will be the best ever. Fingers crossed!

Don’t ask me where babies come from. You will receive TMI.

I’ve now officially completed TWO clerkships! I finished clinical duties Sunday evening and took my ob/gyn shelf exam this morning.  I still consider myself to be quite the novice when it comes to babies, but I’m a good deal more knowledgeable about pregnant ladies. I’ve also learned that crying new daddies are officially the cutest. I had the opportunity to do my rotation at an outside hospital which definitely had both pros (awesome health-conscious cafeteria, far superior parking situation) and cons (oh good a new and entirely unfamiliar building in which I can get lost forever, stranger danger). Truthfully, it was an easier adjustment than I expected and I’m going to miss seeing many of the delightful people I met and worked with in the past few weeks. I will also be forever grateful for how kind and accommodating everyone was in light of my… “special” condition. (more…)

Random strangers sometimes refer to me as ‘Doctor.’ Cue anxious laughter and inner terror.

I feel like I’ve expressed this sentiment so many times that anyone reading is like, “WE GET IT ALREADY,” but medical school passes by so quickly that it seems to defy the laws of physics. …Not that I remember much about the laws of physics. Not only have I officially started my core clinical rotations, but I’m already practically done with my first: Internal Medicine (which, coincidentally, is also the longest). I’ve spent time at the Ann Arbor VA, General Medicine at the University Hospital, and I’m currently on the Hematology/Oncology service also at the U. The majority of my experience thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. I have, however, never felt more stupid in my entire life (and have frequently expressed this out loud and received confirmation of the same from my classmates).

The transition from the classroom to the clinical realm is NUTS. For all the fuss I made over Step 1, it’s like the vast amounts of information I crammed into my head in preparation have magically disappeared now that it’s time to start actually utilizing it (thanks a lot, brain; you traitor).

She knows what she did.

She knows what she did.

There’s also all this other stuff that suddenly comes into play that lectures/Step 1 didn’t even touch. I have to know which antibiotics are oral and which are IV only? You do realize it’s a minor miracle when I even remember that they’re antibiotics, right? I’m continuously bewildered by the sheer quantity of knowledge that my superiors possess. I’ve not yet decided if they’re robots or wizards, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the two. I’ll get back to you.


OR MAYBE BOTH! Tricksy hobbitses…

Probably the hardest part of figuring out how to navigate my new life (and it really does feel like an entirely new life) is balancing the fact that I am constantly findings topics that I need to study and have practically no time to study. I’ve heard that Internal Med is pretty hardcore in this regard and am hopeful that this balance will be easier to strike in the future.

My current feelings expressed above are highly colored by the fact that my end-of-rotation Shelf Exam draws ever closer. I must say that on most days during the past several weeks I’ve called my mom in the evening and essentially said, “I’m really happy and I don’t even know why.” Being part of a healthcare team, participating actively in patient care, learning by doing; it’s all permeated by a general sense of contentment. I just feel good (and exhausted, but that’s a given) at the end of the day more times than not. Honestly, one of my biggest fears at the moment is that I’m going to love everything and be an absolute hot mess when it comes time to decide what specialty I want to pursue. There are worse problems to have.

I haven’t studied today!!! …I feel dirty. (J/K, I feel SPLENDID.)

It feels like it’s been approximately a gajillion years since I last wrote (and, upon checking the date, it nearly has been that long. Oops?)

Life got a little crazy. Like, Step 1 crazy. Yeah – that happened. I took the test two days ago and it already feels like it was in a past life. It’s AMAZING (and kind of terrifying, truly) how 5 weeks of insane studying and preparation passed in the blink of an eye. I shudder to think of how many hours I spent sitting in front of First Aid (aka the Step 1 Bible)… which is why I choose not to! 😀 Aside from the constant presence of terror lurking over my shoulder (the test is coming the test is coming the test is coming), the whole process was actually sort of rewarding in a twisted (masochistic?) kind of way. It really hammered home the sheer volume of material we’ve covered in less than two years’ time and, though many, many things were forgotten (and forgotten again and then again just for good measure), many more were still remembered. If nothing else, the fundamentals have been beaten into me enough at this point that when I have to look up what exactly is going on with Trendelenburg gait (I always remember superior gluteal nerve and abduction, but you ask me to explain it and I go, “Uh…..”), I actually understand the explanation. Med students: the best Googlers in the (mid)west.

It's, like, angles! And - and lever arm! PHYSICS! (It's always physics.)

It’s, like, angles! And – and lever arm! PHYSICS! (It’s always physics.)

In my test-induced haze, I truthfully have no idea how I did, but I definitely didn’t walk out of the testing center feeling like I needed my mommy to hold me – which is how I anticipated myself feeling when all was said and done. I’ll take it.

Immediately after finishing the test, I had to tackle the epic amounts of paperwork and online training required by the VA hospital because I was insightful enough to schedule my test on the due date of said paperwork. It’s not like I was going to take any time from studying to do it, so I obviously hadn’t even touched it up until that point. It proved to be a time-consuming task, as did coaxing my mother’s printer/scanner to cooperate with me. In other words, the fun didn’t stop until late in the evening. Now, however, I’ve finished up most of the things that have been collecting dust on my to-do list during the study period and it evokes a feeling that defies description. I’m actually able to take enough time out to contemplate the fact that my classmates and I will be starting M3 orientation in… 5 days? Yikes. I actually went and ordered textbooks for my Internal Medicine rotation on Amazon yesterday morning because, yeah, I’m a school supplies nerd. (I know you’re all flabbergasted at this revelation.)

Dubin and I are gonna be TIGHT.

Dubin and I are gonna be TIGHT.

I’m both nervous as all get out and so stinkin’ excited to get started. For the moment, however, I’m more than content to stop and take a few moments to just be. Also, video games.

Burr Holes and Broomsticks (and yes, I am smirking at how clever this title is)

Last I wrote I was preparing for my first OR adventure. I’m proud to say I (obviously) survived and, what’s more, didn’t do anything exceedingly embarrassing! It went far better than I possibly could have imagined and now I find myself completely reconsidering the few preconceived notions I had as to what I want to do with my life. My primary concern with envisioning myself as a surgeon is the hours: not the quantity, but the starting point. My body doesn’t function properly before the sun comes up (or, typically, for several hours after the sun comes up). That’s kind of a problem. If I had my way, the “day” would run from roughly 11:00 AM to 1:00 AM. You guys could get on board with that, right? If so, problem solved! …But seriously, I’m not sure if I’m capable of this. I’m confident that I can survive my surgery clerkship (notice “survive” as opposed to “excel in,”) but not so much in terms of a potential career. We shall see.

There’s also the fact that I’m really clumsy. I’ll cross that bridge when (if) I come to it.


Speaking of clerkships, we received the terrifying news that we had to rank our track choices (the order in which we’ll cycle through the various clinical rotations) in early December. We were given something along the lines of a week to agonize over what we were assured was a completely arbitrary decision. Everyone will eventually get to everything anyway, there’s no such thing as a “gunner track,” etc. LIKE WE’RE GOING TO BUY THAT. In typical fashion, we over-analyzed and obsessed over how this decision would impact the rest of our lives. I should also mention that “decision” is not really the most appropriate descriptor: we rank what we want and then what we actually get is determined by a lottery system. In other words, even if you develop a foolproof algorithm to hone in on which track is meant to be yours, you still might not get it. Did this impede our efforts in the slightest? Hah. (We’re unabashedly neurotic. We can’t help ourselves.) Everything obviously turned out just fine. No fatalities. I ended up with my first choice which just so happened to be Track A (A-team, WOOOOO). I also reveled in the hijinks of my classmates on the spreadsheet where we entered our results so that we could further theorize on the group dynamics of the new inhabitants of the various tracks. (As I said: neurotic.)

Being at home for the holidays was delightful aside from the disgustingly hot weather. I don’t care if you’re Florida – you’re not allowed to be 86 degrees on Christmas. Unacceptable behavior. Nonetheless, I had a lovely time. My puppy was as adorable as ever and perhaps even more cuddly than usual! I managed to see Star Wars three times (still not enough, but a decent start) and we spent a couple days in Orlando seeing, among other things, Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. Pro tip: Knockturn Alley is extra air-conditioned for effect. Slap on a Dark Mark to blend in and bask in its breezy glory.

No heat stroke here, folks! (Please excuse any terrified screaming.)

Because the Step 1 exam is starting to weigh ever more heavily on the mind I spent a fair amount of time looking over resources while I actually had the chance, but I also spent an equally fair amount of time playing Fallout 4 and being purely lazy. I feel like I balanced things quite effectively.

Now that we’re back we only have a few sequences left before the Step 1 study period. I feel like I say this every time and yet it still comes as a shock: how does time slip away so quickly?