Thursday, May 19, 2011


So, it's been a long time since I've blogged in any way, shape, or form. Today is a huge day. I finished medical school today! Graduation is actually next Friday, but all requirements are finished as of this afternoon at about 2:15. I am now certified to save someone by shocking them. It's a big responsibility, and a huge burden at the same time. I'm excited to take on that mantle, but so scared to screw it up. I know that as I transition to an intern, resident, and ultimately an attending, that I will probably lose my perspective on what it is that truly drew me to my field, and medicine in general. To this end, I think tonight is the apropos time to write about what, at this moment in time, draws me to my profession.

As an OB/Gyn, I will be a surgeon. I love the OR. I love the dance that is scrubbing and gowning up. I love the routine of a specific cycle of washing one's hands, the feeling that you'll never be so clean in your life. The feeling of being gowned by such seasoned staff who know how to touch anything and keep it sterile. The twirling of your body as the gown is tied in place, like a ballerina in pirouette. The learned ability to maintain sterility while being allowed the privelege of reaching inside someone. The trust required to allow you to heal someone from the inside out. The ability to find the best path to follow surgically, and knowledge that after closing, and withdrawal of anesthesia, the patient will feel better than before.

I also love being an OB. To bring life into the world. To face so many complications and stare back at them, ready to take them on. To protect the most vulnerable form of life in our world, while protecting those that would bring them into it. To care for mothers who are scared, unsure, excited, nervous, etc, about bringing a new child into the world is a privelege and excitement beyond mention. To help those who are not ready; and to comfort those who are in the throws of loss is a task that very few take, and fewer attain proficiency in.

I will learn courge, in the face of fear and possibly of certain death. I will learn true empathy in measures unknown to me as a medical student. I will learn to bring someone back from the brink of death and manage their new, complicated life. I will learn to be a friend and advisor who does not, can not, flinch from difficult decisions.

I will also learn to seek help. Help from friends and family when things go poorly. Help from mentors and superiors when I don't know what to do. Help from the depths of myself when I am not sure where my conscience wants me to go. No man is an island, and neither is this woman.

I will also learn to go home. To go home and greet my family as if no baby has died today; as if no mother had complications. I will learn to love every moment of my happy life for what it is; a gift that as easily as not could be blinked out of existance.

I am not a particularly faithful person. But I know that in this life we are guided. I know, that despite the choices presented, I was not randomly assigned this path in life. I believe it is my purpose to do this good; to help those whom I am trained to help, and to ask little in return.

I remember when I was in college and dating someone who was clearly not my match (as J obviously is!). I told him that merely graduating and making money was not enough, that I wanted to make a contribution. He asked, "a contribution to what..."

I want to do something greater than myself; to help so many that I might not otherwise ever know. I want my contribution to be to those who need me. A person who needs an empathetic ear; a teenager so afraid of her parents she feels she has nowhere else to go; a family that desperately wants to expand and share their love.

My life can only get better in this practice of medicine. It's been such a long road, with so much more to come, but I know that in the end what I do will make a difference to so many people; starting with me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

And we're....moving!

That was a bit of a shock to us! We didn't really even consider the possibility. But, in the realm of, when one door closes, another opens...we're headed to the Mayo Clinic. This is definitely a good thing! I will no doubt get exceptional training there and in the end, I will be able to do anything I want. The only down side is having to move. We've really grown to love Colorado, and I never relish the thought of moving. Blech. We're trying to get all of our things out of the house now, and we plan to rent it out for the time being since the market is so-so at best.

It's been a whirlwind for sure, but now we have a few months to gather our wits about us before the really hard stuff begins. There are days when my panic of moving definitely gives way to the panic of actually being responsible for patients. Scary stuff. The first time I tell the scrub tech "knife to me" is going to make my mouth dry and my heart pound, but I'm starting to feel like it's time to move toward that. And in some ways, even look forward to it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Well, tomorrow is the big day! I felt like I would be freaking out a lot more than I am. I guess it can be chalked up to feeling like I've already wasted too much good anxiety on this! I'm hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, which has substantially improved since Monday. On Monday I found out that I would be matching into OB/Gyn. This means that I will, come hell or high water, be beginning an OB/Gyn residency come late June. Now just to find out where!

I can't help but feel like Match Day is in a lot of ways a bigger deal than Graduation. After match day all the pieces come together. I know that my class is all bracing themselves right now. Tomorrow is a huge day, and I know that it's totally possible it might be an awful one. I'm cautiously optimistic, secure in the knowledge that in 4 years I WILL be able to practice Ob on my own.

I'm sure I'll be posting on facebook at about 11:01. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Awake again

Well, once again the house is completely quiet and here I am awake. I'm watching the world's trashiest tv (You're Cut Off on VH1), and staring at the computer wondering why on earth I can't sleep. Of course, I know why, but thinking about that will only make the insomnia worse!

I really do wish I didn't have class in the morning, if so, I would be able to just take a benadryl and get some zzz's. However, I do not want to have the "hangover effect" in the morning, so I'll just make due with whatever sleep I'm able to grab on my own.

The peanut is doing great these days. Getting to look more and more like a "kid" and not a "baby" every day. She is the ultimate distraction and makes every day a little brighter!

Here's hoping you all are getting the zz's you need, and that you have sweet dreams when you do!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The strangest way to get a job...

So it's clearly been a really long time since posting here. If you haven't gotten an invite to my family blog and want one, send me your email address and I'll hook ya up. But, back to medicine in this forum...

So, residency. It's the looming black cloud that follows four intense years of medical school. It's also a job. A paying job. For that, I couldn't be more excited. It's a lot of hours. Only recently have the "rules" (aka guidelines) changed to mandate the maximum 80 hour work week. This is as an average of 4 weeks. It's acceptable and expected that on occasion you'll go over that 80, but basically you shouldn't make a habit of it. I have chosen to pursue a residency in Ob/Gyn, which is typically one of the more hours-intensive residencies, up there with general surgery. Call for OB tends to be physically demanding. You don't frequently get to sit in front of the computer and write notes and answer pages, you have to be on your feet, often in the OR, often doing procedures. All this being said, there is absolutely no field I could envision myself doing except this, and there is no such thing as an easy residency, so taking these four years (in the case of OB) and making the absolute most out of them is just what needs to be done. I would never choose a field based on perceived difficulty of residency, it isn't worth it in the long run.

Now, how does one get this dream job, you might ask? Well, this is the strange thing. After working your butt off for 3 and a half years of medical school, you begin to apply to residency programs. Generally speaking, you apply to one field. However, some folks do apply to several fields if they can't decide, or one field is very competitive and they want to cover their bases. The application is done online and is submitted to however many programs you'd like to apply to.

The programs then start to respond and ask you to come out for interviews. Now, this is not like getting a job out of, say, law school. There is no schmoozing, there is no wining and dining (generally). There is you paying out of pocket for the interview times that are available by the time you rsvp for an interview spot. There is you paying for a hotel and a rental car and making arrangements for your travels. For most average fields, folks do about 10 interviews give or take. This number can change greatly if you are 1)applying in an incredibly competitive field like dermatology or 2)applying as a "couple" where both members of the couple are applying into a field in medicine and need to live in the same area. Both of these things make it more difficult to match, so you need to apply to more programs.

So, you go to interviews. Meanwhile, you still have to make sure you are completing any course work you need to finish. At the interviews you generally have a dinner the evening before the interview day where you meet some of the residents, the other applicants who will also be interviewing, and sometimes faculty. This dinner is always about balance. Balance between asking too many questions and not enough. Balance between looking "fun" and having a drink with the residents and looking stupid and having too many. Balance between getting there too early and being the only applicant and getting there late and looking like a slacker, and by the same token leaving to early and looking to eager to get out and leaving late and being that awkward hanger-on that just can't get the hint. The next day is an interview day which usually includes a tour of the facility and 3-5 interviews with faculty and residents. Then you'll usually book it to the airport to get out of there.

After each interview you try to make notes about the place, the people, the program, etc. Some people go to such lengths as to make complicated spreadsheets with numerical values assigned to each category and a tally of total points. I just wrote about the general feel of a place, could I see myself working with these folks in close quarters for long hours for 4 years?

After all your interviews are done the end game comes into sight. Ultimately how this whole deal is decided is remarkably similar to Greek rush in college. Applicants make a rank order list, where they rank each program they interviewed at (or if you're really nuts you list programs you didn't interview at...they will not rank you). The programs will also make a list of the applicants they interviewed in the order that they would like to accept them. This is all due in late February. For us, Feb 23 at 9pm EST sharp! From this date until "Match day" some sort of black box computer program sorts through all this, matches up who wants to be where, and presto-chango, you will become a resident! Signing up for the match is a legally binding congtract, so you better not list somewhere that you really don't want to go. You need to be willing to move wherever you list on that rank order list.

Sometime between your interviews and the due date for the rank list, it is generally accepted that students should send "love notes" to the programs they are most interested in and thank you's to all their interviewers. Some programs will send love notes back and there is a strange kind of courtship that goes on, all the while walking a thin line that the National Residency Match Program deems within the rules. You are never allowed to outright ask a program where you will fall on their list, just as they are not allowed to solicit this information from you. Both parties are allowed to voluntarily offer this information, but even that can be deceiving. For example, a program might tell an applicant "you have been ranked to match at this program." Well, that sounds great! Maybe they should be first on my list so I can for sure match there. Not so fast! Think how different it would sound if they wrote to a different student "we have ranked you in our top five, and you will match here if you rank us number 1." Apparently two different students from last year's class got these two messages. Knowing these are both possible, it makes it awfully hard to interpret what they tell you. And to make it worse, so many of the programs will give you absolutely no guidance at all, in part to not influence your decision, and partly to abide by the rules of the match.

Applicants are informed of whether or not they matched (but not where) on March 14th. If you did not match, you will then join the "scramble." That is, you will be left to scramble into one of the positions that did not get filled. This may or may not be in your field of choice! Match day is when you actually find out where you matched if you were able to match without scrambling.

Match day this year is March 17th. I'm hoping it's lucky since it's St. Paddy's day. The process on that day is neuroses inducing as well! It's not mandatory to go to match day, but it's a big deal and most of the class does attend. Family is invited as well. We are having it at Invesco Field this year at an indoor conference room. A nice lunch is going to be served, etc. The weird part is the ceremony. The program starts at 10am (and the bar opens as well) with some speeches by professors we've chosen and a toast from the dean. Then, and this is the crazy part, at 1pm EDT EXACTLY, you are allowed to open the envelope that contains the location of your residency assignment. Again, you don't have to open it there, you can bring it home or whatever, but most people choose to open their envelope with their class. This makes the atmosphere at the luncheon totally bizarre. There are people screaming with joy, there are people crying with joy, there are people screaming in agony and crying in desparation. It is the strangest, and most electrifying, environment I've ever seen (I had the honor of going to last year's match and helping to plan this year's). Last year they had all the envelopes on a table and everyone ran up like a herd stampeding. This year we will have them in a goodie bag at the tables (covered in very noisy cellophane so no one thinks about opening it early...). We are doing this 1)so no one gets trampled and 2)because programs often text message their new incoming interns at the 1pm EDT marker, and a lot of folks thought it was kind of anticlimactic to find out in a text while you were waiting to get your envelope.

With only 2 weeks to go until the big day, I am starting to feel the effects of the stress. Let me just say that a few weeks ago, I would not have been awake after 11 when the baby is still waking up repeatedly throughout the night. When I do sleep, I have nightmares about ending up somewhere I truly didn't want to be. I worry about having to move my husband and my daughter, I worry I won't be happy. It's a huge weight on my mind. To make matters worse, we have a mandatory two week class through next Thursday that puts us all captive in a room, our anxiety feeding off each other. It's just insane. We've had beautiful weather lately, and hopefully it holds out, maybe I can burn off some steam since we just inherited a running stroller from some family friends.

No matter what happens, on March 17th, green beer will be had. Probably in fairly large quantity. The in-laws are taking la nina so we can have a night out and if you're in town and want to join, shoot me a line so I can tell you where we'll be. I'll either be celebrating or crying into said green beer, but you are welcome either way!