Third Year of Medical School…Done!

I can hardly believe that I am done with the third year of medical school! Despite the ups and downs, I am very happy with how much I have grown and learned during the course of this year.

These last 2 months, I have been busy with Internal Medicine Wards and Surgical Subspecialty rotations (Urology and Vascular Surgery). They were hard work but also a great learning experience overall!

All my electives for fourth year have been booked and confirmed (Palliative Care, Endocrinology, Family Medicine, Clinical Allergy and Immunology).  I will also be doing my Geriatrics and Emergency Medicine rotations during fourth year.

Now is that time of the year when we start thinking about the residency match! I cannot believe that this time next year, I will be starting residency! (As a recap, my plan is to apply to Family Medicine which I am very passionate about!)

For now, I am looking forward to the next month which is a month of summer vacation. I am excited to spend more time with my hubby, kids, extended family and friends. I am so grateful for their support and encouragement through this past year (which was undoubtedly, one of the most difficult I have encountered!). I thank God for the strength and grace He gave me throughout the year!

Thank you to all my readers for continuing to follow and support my blog. It is always appreciated!

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Breakfast on the deck, beautiful sunshine, birds chirping and a cute bunny skipping through the grass!
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Residency match timeline!

Clerkship Update: Internal Medicine and General Surgery

Clerkship updates! It’s been a busy past few months! I completed one month each of Internal Medicine (CCU/ER consults) and General Surgery.

What I enjoyed the most

I really enjoyed doing consults in the ER because I felt it really allowed me to hone my history taking and physical exam skills as well as come up with management plans. I met so many interesting patients and learned a lot from the fantastic staff and residents I worked with. In General Surgery, I had the opportunity to become more comfortable in the OR (I was initially terrified of going in there!) and practice useful skills such as inserting foleys and suturing incisions. I also had the opportunity to participate in laparoscopic surgery by assisting with guiding the camera, which was fun! I also developed a new appreciation for how difficult it is for patients to undergo surgery: the anxiety before surgery as well as the sometimes excruciating pain and post-op recovery.

What I struggled with the most

Internal Medicine and General Surgery have definitely been the most demanding in terms of work hours and I sometimes felt like I was floundering. I had managed to keep my mindset positive and motivated during my previous rotations but for some reason, I had moments of doubt and anxiety over the past few weeks which I can’t fully explain. So, I sat myself down, worked through my thoughts, prayed, and confided in family and friends about my struggles. I have emerged stronger and more motivated!

My take home message

Internal Medicine and General Surgery are great specialties despite the long hours. They each bring different perspectives and add richness to one’s medical training. The past few months have reminded me how important it is to guard one’s thoughts and to rely on others when we feel weak and downtrodden. Despite the challenges, I am excited to be pursuing a career in medicine and thank God for his ever abundant blessings in my life!

Featured image courtesy of BM Hospitals

When the Fog Lifts

The other day, I was on my daily commute to the hospital for one of my clinical rotations. The train chug chugged along and as it neared one of two bridges, I turned my head expectantly to view the expansive water and distant hills. But on this particular day, the view which I have come to treasure, was blanketed by an unrelenting fog. I could see absolutely nothing outside of the window. It was a disconcerting feeling. What was happening behind the fog? When would the fog lift? As the train made it to the other side of the bridge, the water and hills left behind, the fog gradually lifted, trees and buildings slowly appeared and my view of the outside world became crystal clear once again.

This two minute experience got me thinking about how similar life can be to this event. There are times in our lives when our path forward is clear. We can feel confident enough to proceed on our journey. There are other moments, when things become less clear, our confidence may become shrouded in uncertainty and we wonder where has the path disappeared to? One thing I do know. The fog eventually lifts, and we will see clearly again. It just requires patience, determination and the will to never give up.

I recently completed my second Psychiatry rotation and have just completed my first 2 weeks of Internal Medicine. Both have been great learning experiences with amazing staff physicians and residents. On some days though, I feel truly tired. I wonder if I have the strength and ability to become a good doctor. Or I struggle to balance medicine with family life. Doubts try to creep in. But I also feel so grateful to be in a position to help people so directly in their moments of crisis, illness or fear. It truly is a humbling and privileged position to be in! And even on those cloudy, unclear days…the fog eventually lifts!

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View from the train in winter-time

Featured image: View from the train in summer time, late evening (potentialdoctor.com)

Clerkship Update: Urban Family Medicine

Clerkship Updates! I have just completed a month in Urban Family Medicine and I absolutely loved it! It definitely solidified my interest in and passion for Family Medicine. Most of my days were spent at a private Family Medicine clinic. I also spent time at a Dermatology, ENT and walk-in clinic, a senior’s residence and palliative care center.

What I learned from this rotation

This rotation was fantastic! There was frequent, useful one-on-one teaching and feedback which helped me to grow in my knowledge and clinical skills. I was constantly challenged to think more and more independently. I had the opportunity to manage complex patients and multi-complaint visits. I developed some new skills/knowledge in Dermatology, ENT and how to manage geriatric patients.

What I enjoyed most

I very much enjoyed the one-on-one teaching, the positive learning environment, the variety of cases I saw and the variety of work environments. I loved interacting with the patients and looked forward to going to work each day!

What I struggled with the most

The greatest challenge for me on this rotation was coming up with management plans for the more complex patients. However, by the end of the rotation, I felt that I had a better grasp of how to do this.

My take home message

Urban Family Medicine was a fantastic rotation and was definitely one of my favorite rotations. I loved the variety of cases I saw, interacting with patients of different ages and  getting to see patients who have been followed by the same physician for years and who know their patients very well. I also enjoyed the flexibility and variety of work environments. I really look forward to a future practice in Family Medicine!

Next rotation….Out-Patient Psychiatry. Stay tuned!

Featured image: Family photo 2017

Clerkship Update: In-Patient Psychiatry

Happy 2019 dear readers! I hope you had a fantastic December holiday!

Clerkship Updates! I have just completed a month in In-Patient Psychiatry and I have to say that it was an extremely humbling and eye-opening experience! My rotation consisted of following patients in the psychiatric unit, doing consults and reassessments in the ER, reassessing medical patients with psychiatric symptoms on a number of different wards, as well as interviewing and assessing families in Child Psychiatry.

What I learned from this rotation

I went into this rotation with trepidation because I felt I did not have much experience managing mental illness but I learned so much from my patients about their life-stories, hardship and resilience. I was humbled by what they have been through and how far they have come. I was surprised by how attached I got to some of my patients and how much emotion I felt towards them. These were people from all walks of life. It could be me, it could be you. A very humbling experience. I also feel that this rotation really helped me improve my interviewing skills which will be very applicable to my interests in Family Medicine.

What I enjoyed most

Seeing my patients get better and discharged from the hospital, particularly after a long admission! I also really enjoyed the human side of medicine on this rotation. Many of my patient interviews were simply about getting to know the person in great detail, which was really a wonderful and sometimes emotional experience. The teaching and support during this rotation was also excellent, with plenty of opportunities to share our reactions and feelings about the rotation.

What I struggled with the most

The greatest challenge for me on this rotation was wondering if I was really helping my patients significantly. But I was amazed how many patients appreciated simply being listened to during their moments of crisis and how the hospital was actually a refuge and place of stability for them.

My take home message

My In-patient psychiatry rotation was really great. I learned so much from the staff and patients. I am realizing now more than ever that it is really important to reflect on each day and process the feelings you have about what you see. It is human nature to feel the pain others have and so I feel it’s important to process these feelings in a way that works for you. Some suggestions include reflection, art, music, talking about it or writing about it.

Next rotation….Urban Family Medicine! Thoroughly excited! Stay tuned for more updates. Wishing you all the best for 2019!

Featured image courtesy of medium.com

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Christmas morning!
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Christmas morning!
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Birthday girl!
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Family time in the Laurentians!

 

The Big Reveal: My Specialty Choice…and Tips for Choosing a Specialty

After months of reflection, prayer and exposure to different medical specialties, I have finally made a decision on which specialty I would like to pursue! I have to say that I am very excited to be at this point and feel very clear-minded about the path forward!

Choosing a medical specialty is not easy. There are so many of them to choose from! Many are interesting and potentially rewarding! This blog post will not only announce my specialty choice but also give some tips to help you with the decision process.

So without further ado….

I have chosen to go into…..FAMILY MEDICINE!

Why Family Medicine?

  • Getting to work with patients of all ages from babies to elderly
  • Variety of work contexts: clinics, hospital, ER, long-term care homes
  • Good work-life balance
  • Flexibility of practice: one can build a practice based on preferences and also needs in the community
  • Opportunities to work in both urban and rural areas
  • Good job outlook: family doctors are needed everywhere
  • Building long-term relationships with patients
  • Being involved in every aspect of my patient’s care (holistic approach)
  • Having generalist knowledge on a variety of disciplines (I find almost everything in the field of medicine fascinating!)
  • Intellectually stimulating
  • Opportunities to do minor surgical procedures
  • Opportunities to be involved in public health

These are just some of the many reasons that Family Medicine has grasped my attention and my passion! I am thrilled to be pursuing it!

Tips for Choosing a Specialty

  • Keep an open mind: I started off with keeping an open mind about the variety of specialties out there.
  • Do your research: I read up on the various specialties and talked to staff physicians and residents in the field about their experiences.
  • Wait to go through your clinical rotations first: Although reading about specialties is helpful, they do not always give the full picture on the lifestyle and work environment of a particular specialty. Therefore, I feel it is important to actually go through the clinical rotations before committing fully to or dismissing a particular specialty. You may be pleasantly (or unpleasantly) surprised!
  • What can you live with (or not!)? Through the course of this year, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to most specialties and obtained a taste of what I liked and did not like in each specialty. There is no perfect specialty but there are aspects of each specialty that I knew I could either live with or not. Similarly, I reflected on what aspects of medicine were important for me and needed to be in that particular specialty for it to be a good fit.
  • What are your priorities? It is important to factor in your priorities, for example, how will going into this specialty affect other important aspects of your life, such as your family life? Hobbies? Commitments? For me, I knew my family and church life are extremely important to me so I needed a specialty that would allow me to continue to devote my time to these aspects of my life.
  • Say “no” to being pressured: For some people, choosing a specialty becomes clear very early on while for others, it takes more time. Avoid the temptation to feel pressured into a decision. Only you can make the decision. Try not to let someone else make it for you.
  • What are the community needs? Another important aspect to consider in your specialty choice is the needs in the community. What resources for our patients are lacking and where could you step in to fill in the gaps?

I hope you find these tips useful in your decision making process. If you have further questions about clerkship rotations, specialty choice or anything else you would like to discuss, feel free to comment below or reach out to me at thepotentialdoctor@gmail.com. It is always a pleasure hearing from you!

Suggested reading materials: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty by Brian Freeman

Featured image: courtesy of Kunal Chopra