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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!

Happy Fourth!

I can’t quite believe that it’s nearly the Fourth of July, when it seems like I have barely interacted with the real world since the beginning of March, when the Step 1 study period began. And now we’re in July and school’s out and I find myself slightly bewildered. Where did the time go?

Heralding that time has passed is the fact that my Surgery rotation is now over. I took the NBME shelf exam yesterday and my oral exam this morning. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that, come Monday, I will not be shuffling into the hospital at 5:30am nor will I be scrubbing in to a case any time in the near future.

For the last two months, surgery consumed much of my being. When I wasn’t at the hospital, scrubbed in to a surgery or seeing patients in clinic, I was home, doing one of three things – eating, sleeping, and studying. And sometimes I even combined the activities – studying while eating dinner, or dreaming about being in the OR (about as close as you can get to absorbing information by osmosis).

However, this focus on surgery has left me a bit bewildered in the rest of my life. There are books strewn about my apartment and a pile of clothes that haven’t quite made it back to the closet. Now that surgery’s over, I have to remember how to be a normal person again, and it feels a lot like this Zits cartoon:

Nevertheless, I truly enjoyed being on Surgery. It definitely required an adjustment period but I liked being able to do something, to fix someone’s problem. One of the most notable instances of this was when I saw a patient in clinic and heard his carotid bruit, then scrubbed in to his carotid endarterectomy, and could no longer hear the bruit the next morning. I was actually doing something to help people – the reason many of us went to medical school in the first place.

I wish everyone has a great Fourth of July weekend; I am certainly looking forward to sleeping for much of it!