Three Important Life Lessons

Three Important Life Lessons

What we learn when we are young can follow us for the rest of our lives.

In my last post on Managing Confinement, I wrote about balancing homeschooling kids with other responsibilities. I alluded to the fact that I would like to teach my kids life lessons to help them in the future. The time in confinement has allowed me to really reflect on this and I feel these 3 areas are particularly important:

  1. Family Values: I think it is important to teach kids what values we feel are important as a family and to demonstrate this to them as much as possible through our actions. And when we fall short of those values, apologizing to our kids is equally important in demonstrating humility.
  2. Work Ethic: There are days when it would be so much easier to simply let the kids do whatever they want. But ultimately, they do need guidance and the ability to develop a strong work ethic that will allow them to develop into responsible and dependable adults. For us at this stage, this simply involves the kids taking responsibility for their school work as much as possible, helping out around the house and keeping their rooms in order.
  3. IMG_0958Financial Responsibility: It’s never too early to start teaching kids about how to manage finances responsibly. This is an area I did not really know how to impart to my kids however after reading various sources, we came up with a plan that we feel is right for our family and which the kids are on board with. There are of course many schools of thought on this with a multitude of approaches. For us, the kids will obtain an allowance once a month in return for helping out with chores around the house. We suggested that for now, they divide the money up equally in 3 jars: Savings, Spending and Giving. If there is something they would like to have outside of their usual needs, birthday and Christmas gifts, they will have to save up for it. I’m hoping that this will teach them about the concept of saving, delayed gratification as well as generosity.

Further reading: I just finished reading this book which I feel is useful in guiding parents about what life skills to teach kids and would be a good read for adolescents (currently free on Amazon Kindle so grab it while you can!)

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Managing Confinement

Managing Confinement

How are you managing confinement so far?

As an introvert, I have generally been fine with spending so much time at home although I do certainly miss my extended family and friends as well as our usual social activities. Regardless of personality type, being confined to one’s home certainly has its pros and cons. As a mother of two young ones aged 8 and 6 years old, I have been trying to balance homeschooling while attempting to study for my first medical licensing exam. Now that it’s been a little over a month since schools and universities closed, I have found a basic approach that seems to be working well and so I wanted to share this with you (particularly parents with young kids):

Let this be a unique and positive learning experience for your kids

While attempting to home-school my children, I have been reminded that kids learn in different ways and that they can learn from many things, not just structured worksheets at the table. I made the decision that I would like my kids to learn in a natural and non-stressful way so that they can develop a positive attitude towards learning in general.

For my kids, we have settled on a very simple routine of daily reading, writing and Math (about 1-2 hours per week day). Beyond this, the kids are free to learn what they would like and we parents facilitate the learning process. This means our days are quite varied and somewhat unpredictable but I find that this has been a much less painful process than trying to schedule out the whole day with very structured activities. Mum and kids have been much less frustrated and in fact it has been fun! (And can I just say that I have a whole new appreciation for school teachers. They are unsung heroes who deserve so much more recognition for the hard work they put into teaching our kids!)

If you are looking for some ideas for your kids, here are just some of the activities my kids enjoy:

  1. Board games: kids can learn plenty of concepts from board games from strategy to math (my daughter’s mental math has grown exponentially since repeatedly being the banker while playing Game of Life!)
  2. Bike rides or walks:  kids get physical exercise while enjoying nature and learning important concepts such as road signs, the rules of the road and how to be spatially aware of vehicles. It’s also invigorating as a family to see other people in the neighborhood, even if from a distance.
  3. Cosmic Kids Yoga: another way to keep physically active and includes a creative backdrop of kids’ favorite themes such as Frozen, Pokemon, Minecraft and many more!
  4. Online lessons: kids can learn many things via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom such as art, programming and musical instruments. Is there a friend or family member who has time on their hands and would be willing to teach your kids while you study or work? Depending on your financial situation, paid lessons could be an option too.
  5. Group homeschooling: kids can join other families who are homeschooling via FaceTime, Zoom etc. so that they can socialize and do their work together. My kids have enjoyed doing this with their friends who were routinely home-schooled before the pandemic and whose mum does an AWESOME job teaching all our kids! This has been especially helpful when I had my own online classes to do for medical school.
  6. Educational apps: the kids love SplashLearn and Education.com which has fun games in Math, reading, typing and more. Boukili is an excellent app for learning to read in French.
  7. Science Experiments: the kids have enjoyed Colour Chemistry from Crayola. (I still remember my very first Chemistry set as a kid!)

In all of this, I know I will never be the perfect parent. All I can do is my best and focus on making sure that my husband and kids know they are loved and appreciated! I have also been trying to teach my kids life skills that are hopefully going to help them later in life. More on that in my next post!

I hope this post has been helpful. This has been a tough year for many and my hope is to bring some encouragement and remind you that you are not alone in this.

Done With Medical School!

Done With Medical School!

I am happy to announce that I have completed medical school!!! It is a bitter sweet moment as the journey came to a somewhat abrupt end in the wake of social distancing. There were no physical goodbyes to classmates, teachers or mentors and our graduation ceremony was cancelled. I experienced some heartfelt disappointment that I will not get to see beloved family members and friends who were planning to travel to Canada to celebrate graduation with me.

But I am also so thankful that I made it to the end of this medical school journey. It has been a life-changing experience that has stretched me beyond what I thought I could manage. I am so grateful to God, my husband, kids, extended family, friends and readers for supporting me and encouraging me through this journey.

COVID-19 has impacted the world in unimaginable ways, some terrible but some also refreshing and positive. I am very thankful that the timing worked out such that I can be home with my kids, at least until I start residency in July. Homeschooling the kids while attempting to study for my first licensing exam (MCCQE1) has been quite an adventure! More on that in my next post!

Photo: McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Match Day Results are In!

Match Day Results are In!

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I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I matched to the Family Medicine Residency Program at McGill. It is a dream come true! My dear husband and children were by my side as I logged in online to view my results. We then spent the day together celebrating.

I have been so touched by the number of encouraging messages of support that I received from family and friends across the globe! Truly this medical school journey has a been a team effort! I am so grateful to my beloved husband for patiently enduring the past few years of a very hectic schedule. Endeavors like this truly require sacrificial love and support.

Although there were moments of anxiety leading up to Match Day, I am amazed at the incredible sense of peace God gave me that everything would work out for the best! He has answered so many prayers right down to the smallest of details. Truly a Father’s love is revealed in the loving care He takes of His children!

For the past month, I have been back-to-class taking some interesting Basic Science and Social Science classes which involved several presentations and a written assignment. We have some exams coming up plus a month long course “Transition to Residency” where we will go over topics such as Resident wellness, writing prescriptions, medical liability etc. We will also have some review sessions in preparation for our first licensing exam, the MCCQE1 which I will sit in early May. Graduation follows shortly after, and then…..Residency starts July 1st!

I look forward to all of you accompanying me on this next and final phase of my training…Residency!! Thank you for all your support and words of encouragement over the years.  I am so grateful and so excited to become a family doctor! Glory to God for his abundant blessings!

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My Last Rotation…Allergy and Immunology. What’s Next?

My Last Rotation…Allergy and Immunology. What’s Next?

pictureI am excited to announce that about one week ago, I completed my very last clerkship rotation of medical school! It felt quite surreal and also a reminder that in just a few months, I will be graduating from medical school.

I had an excellent experience on my last rotation which was in Allergy and Immunology. My days were spent in a variety of clinics such as General Allergy, Asthma, and Reproductive Immunology. As my goal is to become a family doctor, I specifically picked this elective so I could develop skills in various allergic conditions which are quite common to family medicine. The team of residents and physicians were great to work with and were wonderful teachers. I also learned how to do skin testing for common environmental allergens and how to perform drug allergy testing which was interesting!

So now that I am done with rotations, what’s next? Interview season for Residency!

I am spending my time prepping for this, plus slowly starting to study for my licensing exam which will be in May. It has been really great to spend more time with my family and friends. The kids are really enjoying having more of mummy around! It has also been nice to have some free time to work on music, read, exercise more and cook again (my dearest husband has been doing a lot of the cooking since I started medical school, bless him!)

I will be heading back to class in February to April for our last set of courses “Putting it All Together” and “Transition to Residency”. In the midst of this, our Residency Match Results will be released on March 3rd. Exciting! (If not slightly nerve-wracking!)

be-persistentWhatever stage you are at in life, whether starting off something new, in the middle or close to the end…keep going!  You will get to the finish line eventually…and at your own pace! There may be detours or delays along the way, but don’t let this stop you! Your journey is unique to you!

Reflecting on 2019…Looking Ahead to 2020

Reflecting on 2019…Looking Ahead to 2020

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I just wanted to wish all my readers a happy holiday season and an exciting year as we enter a new decade!

For some of you 2019 may have been a tough year (I know it was for me!). I think it’s important to reflect on both the successes and failures. A review of the successes allows us to see what we did right, how much we have grown and reinforces where our strengths lie. A review of the failures (as painful as this can be) allows us to see where things may have gone wrong and what can be improved.

img_9398I love this simple lesson that I learned from one of my young daughter’s story books entitled “I’m Not Afraid to Fail”. The main character is a little girl who has experienced multiple failures. Her grandfather encourages her by saying, “but failure is fantastic….because each failure takes you one step closer to success!”

Success and failure means different things to different people but if there’s one thing that this year has taught me is that in those moments where I felt I had failed…those moments always taught me something important to hold on to for the future. There is always room for improvement. And the better we become at our craft, be it in medicine, business, education, art, music, parenting, homemaking or other pursuits, the more we provide better service to those we serve. And to me, that’s a success!

Whatever 2019 may have meant for you, whether good or bad, a new year is upon us with plenty of new opportunities! Seize them! Dust yourself off if you fall down…and keep going! Be the best you can be!

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Wishing you a happy and fulfilled 2020…from my family to yours!
Clerkship Updates: Geriatrics

Clerkship Updates: Geriatrics

I cannot believe 2019 is almost at an end! This year has just flown by! I just had an incredible rotation in Geriatrics. It consisted of 2 weeks on consults and 2 weeks managing patients on the Geriatrics wards or off-service units. There were also two 1/2 weekends on consults.

Geriatrics was challenging in many ways:

  1. Patients often have complex medical histories
  2. Patients often have varying degrees of neurocognitive disorder (dementia)
  3. Patients are often frail and at risk of falls
  4. Patients may have delirium which can be difficult to tease apart from possible underlying neurocognitive disorder
  5. Patients are dealing with many challenges such as incontinence which can be demoralizing for them. For some patients, continence may be their last act of independent functioning.
  6. Patients are often on multiple medications (polypharmacy) whose side effects can put patients at further risk of falls or delirium.
  7. Patients are faced with what we often write in the charts as “disposition”. Where will they be going next after being discharged from hospital? They are often too frail or dependent to go back home therefore may be facing the reality of moving to a residence or nursing home. There can be complex family dynamics as the details of this transition is worked out.

Despite the complexity of geriatrics, I found this to be a truly rewarding rotation as I developed close bonds with my patients and got to know some of them very well. I was really touched by some of the conversations I had with my patients and how much I learned from them. I worked with a fantastic interdisciplinary team and found the geriatric physicians to be extremely compassionate. I also developed clinical skills that will be very useful in my future practice as a family doctor.

I am now on my last rotation of clerkship! It is an elective in Allergy and Immunology and has been an extremely fascinating rotation so far! More details to come!

Featured image courtesy of Emory University School of Medicine

Clerkship Updates: Family Medicine Elective

Clerkship Updates: Family Medicine Elective

I just spent an incredible month on elective at a Family Medicine clinic in my community. The clinic is comprised of 6 family doctors, some of whom have been practicing for over 30 years and who had a wealth of experience to share. The clinic also has several specialists who visit at regular intervals.

I felt that my clinical skills really grew during this rotation, and it was very rewarding to follow-up on the same patients throughout the month. My days were constantly filled with variety from baby well checks, to adolescent visits to elderly patients. I also had the opportunity to practice several procedures such a pap tests, skin biopsies, cryotherapy and minor surgery.

Like many of my rotations, there were days when I felt I had a good handle on things, and other days, when I was humbled and reminded that there is still so much I have yet to learn. This rotation served to further confirm my passion for Family Medicine and I am very excited at the possibility of practicing in my community in the future.

I recently submitted by residency application (yay!). I’m excited for this next phase of my training! The journey continues! Up next is a one-month rotation in Geriatrics. Stay tuned!

Clerkship Updates: ER, Endocrinology and Residency Applications

Clerkship Updates: ER, Endocrinology and Residency Applications

Time has just been flying by! After an incredible experience on my Palliative Care rotation, I went on to complete a month of Emergency Room Medicine. The pace was fast and challenging but was definitely a good learning experience. The month consisted of daytime as well as evening and night shifts. The skill that I felt I had the opportunity to work on most in the ER was to develop a logical, organized way of structuring a differential diagnosis for the most common, life-threatening conditions.

After my month in the ER, I went on to start a one month elective in Endocrinology which I will be wrapping up this week. I chose this elective because I felt it would be very useful for increasing my knowledge on conditions such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypo/hyperthyroidism and other endocrine or metabolic abnormalities that I am likely to come across often during my Family Medicine practice. It has been a good experience with my days consisting of clinic, wards and ER consults.

And in other exciting news, I have been working on my applications for residency and am making good progress. The application consists of various components including a personal statement, CV, and recommendation letters. Despite how stressful this stage of medical school can be, I feel remarkably at peace and am sure that everything will turn out for the best. Regardless of the outcome, I feel extremely grateful for all the blessings in my life and thank God for his faithfulness!

I am really looking forward to the next month of clerkship which will be a Family Medicine elective in my community. Stay tuned!

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Beautiful Fall day with my munchkins

Featured image courtesy of healthcatalyst.com

Clerkship Update: Palliative Care

Clerkship Update: Palliative Care

I had an incredible experience on my palliative care rotation. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Whenever I informed people what rotation I was in, many wrinkled up their faces and said, “Ooh, it’s got to be depressing being around so many dying people”.

I have to say that my experience was quite the opposite. It is a different way of practicing medicine. Rather than focusing on curing a patient, one is focused on making them as comfortable as possible as they navigate the last months, weeks, days, hours and seconds of their lives. I found it a true privilege to accompany people on this journey.

I very much enjoyed how much time I got to spend with each patient and their families on a daily basis. It was certainly never easy discussing a short prognosis but in some ways, families found relief in having an idea of their loved one’s trajectory and in knowing they would be kept as comfortable as possible. The main things that impact heavily on dying patients, particularly in the context of terminal cancer, are pain, nausea, lack of appetite and a progressive sense of loss as they decline in function. Although it can be  difficult to do much about the loss of function, it is staggering to see how much better a patient feels when their pain and nausea can be controlled.

On this rotation, I worked with an excellent interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, PABs and art therapists.  I was truly inspired by their dedication and compassion for our patients.  I certainly struggled with my emotions when I lost a patient (which was almost on a daily basis) especially seeing the profound impact on the family members left behind. I truly treasure the meaningful connections I had with patients and their families on this rotation.

I also had the opportunity to participate in home visits. There was something especially touching about being able to go into a patient’s home and deliver care to them in an environment where they feel most at home.

Overall, my palliative care rotation was one of my best experiences in medical school. I encourage medical students out there wondering what electives to take to strongly consider taking it. It will change your perspective on life.

As my fourth year of medical school continues, I feel my confidence as a doctor-in-training progressively growing. There is still so much to learn of course. One of the great things about medicine, is the challenge of constantly growing and learning new things. As I ponder the current stage in my training, I am so grateful to be on this path to becoming a doctor, as difficult and challenging as it can be.

Featured image courtesy of https://www.medstarfranklinsquare.org