Select Page

Down the Rabbit Hole

I find myself a bit bewildered to realize that I have now been immersed in my PhD for a whole two weeks. Since Step 1 study period started, I’ve been looking forward to this period where I would have a chance to slow down and take a breath. Not that I expected my PhD work to be easy by any means, but I assumed that I would enjoy the chance to be free of imminent deadlines and the constant pressure of studying.

And so the months of March, April, May, June, and July passed, as I looked forward to the MSTP retreat and, right after that, my return to lab.

View from the MSTP Retreat (Higgins Lake, MI)

And I came and jumped back into my project and realized, with no little sadness, that while I sat at my cubicle and stared at my computer, my (former) classmates were starting a new rotation. My track mates were starting their first days of Neurology, seeing patients, while I sat in my cubicle and coded. Certainly a different kind of coding.

The first few days back were … odd. There’s really no other way to describe them. I wanted to be back with my classmates, despite the fact that I had been looking forward to this moment. I enjoyed working on my project but still felt slightly adrift. I jumped off a high-speed train into a field of grass and then didn’t quite know what to do with myself.

Except keep working. And as I did so, things started to feel more natural. Don’t get me wrong, this all still feels like a dream from which I will soon wake; but the oddness is fading. I’m falling into a new routine that I enjoy. I’ve even started a new hobby, as I learn to row on the Huron River.

My life is very different from what it was a month ago; I have the chance to re-invent myself once again. New classmates, new labmates, new experiences. It’s a bit like January 1, including the resolutions, but without the cold. Time for a New Year, a new me. And I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

Life Beyond Surgery

Despite Surgery being over for me for a few weeks now, I still can’t quite believe it. I enjoyed the experience greatly, but it was all a bit surreal. I wake up now at 6am (which is fairly early when you realize that clinic starts at 8am), and I’m still shocked when it’s light outside. But also quite happy about that fact, as you might imagine.

Now I’m partway through my Family Medicine rotation at Domino’s Farms, and I’m really enjoying it too. All of a sudden, I went from discussing one very specific aspect of a person’s health to taking all-comers. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to complete these clinical rotations before haring off to the lab – it provides the context and a reminder of why I wanted to do this in the first place. It’s the reason why you study so hard during the first two years of medical school: because that knowledge helps you make an actual difference in the quality of people’s lives.

And as I’m realizing this, my time in Family Medicine is more than halfway over, and it will soon be time to rejoin my lab and begin my PhD in Bioinformatics. I’m looking forward having schedule flexibility again and I’m excited to start coding again (although less so for the inevitable debugging). But I’m also sad to be leaving behind the patient interactions and to be left behind by my classmates. Well, at least I’ll be getting more sleep in the near future 🙂

Last Sunday marked the 11th Annual Dean’s Cup golf outing, and it was a blast. The forecast scared me all week (“Afternoon thunderstorms. Some may be severe.”), but the weather turned out great. It was definitely hot but there was a breeze, so it was lovely. I already can’t wait for next year!