Spring, Updates on Rotations…and Looking Ahead to Clerkship!

Hello everyone!

The past few months have just flown by! We are slowly starting to see the signs of Spring after a long Winter! One of my favorite things about this time of year is seeing the green shoots of plants in the garden trying to make their way up out of the recently frozen ground, their tips emerging strong and ready for the next season! I also love hearing the honking sound of the Canadian Geese making their way back as the weather gets warmer!

Med school has been great! I completed a fun 2-week rotation in Pediatrics where we got some hands on practice taking a history and doing physical exams on patients ranging from a few months old to teenagers! I was based at 2 locations: a pediatric clinic as well as the Children’s Hospital where I shadowed a fantastic pediatic nephrologist. I felt very at ease with parents and young patients, perhaps because I have two little ones of my own. So as I spoke to parents, I thought about how I would want to be treated if my own kids were sick.

My next rotation was an 8-week rotation in Internal Medicine which I am just about to wrap up. I found it quite challenging at the beginning when faced with the complexities of the diseases I encountered on the wards and witnessing very sick patients compared to my previous patient encounters. As time went on, I began to feel more comfortable on the wards. At this point in our training, we still play mostly an observational role, but it was a really good experience getting to interact with patients, write up admission notes and work through differential diagnoses. Even just getting more familiar with the hospital’s electronic medical records was reassuring for me!

Aside from the invaluable experience we are getting as we transition to clerkship, I am also enjoying getting to know my classmates in more depth now that we are working in smaller numbers and it is easier to get to know people.

In other exciting news, we just received our schedules for Clerkship! Here’s what my next 2 years are going to look like:

  • Year 3: Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Elective, Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, Surgery
  • Year 4: Electives, Emergency Medicine, Public Health, Geriatrics

In the lead up to clerkship, I have had mixed feelings…both excitement and fear. My main concern has been the longer work hours and how that would impact my husband and kids. But my husband continues to reassure me that we will “figure it out” as we have always done! I continue to rely on God’s strength to keep me positive and motivated! And I am thrilled to see my kids thriving and happy. They are so curious to know what I am learning, “What did you do in med school today, mummy?” I love it!

All-in-all, I am really looking forward to Clerkship in this next phase of our medical training. In the mean time, I am getting ready for my next 8-week pre-clerkship rotation which is a combination of…Surgery, Radiology, Anesthesiology and Ophthalmology. Here we go!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Spring! Some green shoots in our garden!
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Still a lot of snow in the mountains though…picture of the Laurentians from my mother-in-law’s house in the woods
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This is the study spot that I sometimes sneak away to while we’re at my mother-in-law’s house in the woods. It used to be my husband’s bedroom during his childhood summers.
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And I just had to throw this in because I think it’s so cute…our Superwoman!

Featured image: My view from the train during my daily commute to med school.

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Med school update…Loving my clinical rotations!

Hello everyone (and welcome to those who just recently started following my blog!)

The month of January has been a month of transition as I moved out of the classroom and into the hospitals and clinics. This new phase of my training is called “Transition to Clinical Practice”. It is to prepare us for third-year clerkship by giving us exposure to real-life medical settings. At this stage, we do not yet have the  level of responsibility of a third-year student but we are still considered a part of the team which is great!

The first 2 weeks were quite the adjustment as no longer was my medical ‘world’ centered around campus but rather in various hospitals and clinics around the city. I ultimately decided to switch from driving to public transport which was an adjustment in itself! But now I feel much more settled and have come to enjoy the pleasant 1-hour train ride to and from the city. I am using the time to study and catch up on emails.

My husband also came up with the excellent idea of listening to audiobooks which I have been doing during my drive to the train station, subsequent subway commute and walks to the clinic/hospital. It has all turned out really well because I am able to come home earlier than last semester since I do not get stuck in traffic! There is always a bright side to new changes, even if they throw us off at first!

Here are my impressions of the rotations I have done so far:

  1. Family medicine: I liked the variety of cases that I saw and that the family doctor/resident has to have such a breadth of knowledge on many subjects. I am looking forward to gaining more exposure in clerkship.
  2. Neurology: I absolutely loved this rotation! I met wonderful attending physicians, residents and patients. I had a variety of experiences from doing consults in the ER to rounding on patients in the wards, to taking a history and examining patients in the clinics. I also had the chance to visit the electrophysiology lab where the Nerve Conduction and EMG studies are performed. There were plenty of opportunities to review CT and MRI scans. Overall, I found this to be a very intellectually stimulating experience. In addition, the patients I met were truly inspiring and humbling as they battled with debilitating and life-changing conditions. Since there are no core rotations in neurology in 3rd year, I am considering taking an elective in neurology in 4th year.

Other than school, the family is doing very well! We have instituted a new family tradition which is for each of us to say something we are grateful for every night at bed-time.  I also have a journal on my bedside table where I jot down a few things I am grateful for every night. This is really helping me to remain thankful and positive despite the busy and demanding weeks!

What’s next? My next rotation is pediatrics which I’m looking forward to! Will post an update on that in the next few weeks.

Keep striving towards your goals! Be positive in the moment and don’t wait to reach your destination in order to find happiness. It’s about the day-to-day living and what things we can be grateful for on a daily basis!

Thanks for reading!

 

Med School Update…And a Trip to Kenya!

As I write this, I am sitting on a paving stone step, listening to the wind blow through the slender pointed leaves of majestic eucalyptus trees towering over me, forming a blanket of protection against the omnipresent African sunshine. My family and I are thrilled to be spending the Christmas holidays in my home land…Kenya, where I was born and raised.

It has been 7 years since my husband and I were last back. And this is the kids’ first trip to Africa. They have loved every moment of it, from the perfect weather, to the friendly people, to the delicious food, to getting to meet cousins, aunts and uncles for the very first time. Words cannot express the joy in seeing my own children embrace the culture of the country where I grew up and of which I have so many beautiful childhood memories. It feels like I have come full circle!

During our 2 weeks here, we have been staying at my mum’s house in Nairobi and the kids have already reignited the bond with their Gran who they hadn’t seen since 2014. We have been having a wonderful time and I am not sure the kids will ever want to leave at this rate!

And what about med school? The last block (Neurology) was fantastic. Without a doubt, one of my favourite blocks! The last month of school was quite intense with block and anatomy exams, presentations and standardized clinical exams. It is bittersweet to have come to the end of my “classroom” learning (already!) but also very exciting to be starting TCP (Transition to Clinical Practice) in January. My rotations will be in 3 main blocks:

  1. Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Neurology
  2. Internal Medicine
  3. Surgery, Anesthesia, Radiology, Ophthalmology

TCP will run from January to June and then, after a one month summer break, I will begin my 3rd year clerkship rotations at the end of July.

The next few months will be quite an adjustment for our family due to the long hospital hours. I will have to be strong being away from the kids so much but I know they are in good hands and we will work through this as a family!

In the meantime, we will enjoy our last week of vacation here in warm, sunshiny Nairobi before heading back to snowy Canada in the New Year. Merry Christmas to all my readers and thank you for reading! I hope to continue to hear from you in 2018! Whatever dreams you may have, continue working towards them and never give up! All the best!

Year 2 Reflections…Challenges Make Us Stronger

This week was refreshing as we started the final block of the Fundamentals of Medicine: The Nervous System and Human Behavior. The previous block (Reproduction) was surprisingly one of the most challenging blocks for me due to the sensitive nature of some of the topics such as complications in pregnancy. It was difficult to listen to the lecture on miscarriage having personally experienced the trauma of a miscarriage 7 years ago. It felt like I was reliving the experience and I found myself thinking about my dear, sweet, unborn child that I never got to meet.

Moments like this plus settling my son into Grade 1, helping him with homework, occasionally managing on my own while my husband was away, plus the pressure of exams, made things seem overwhelming at times (there were definitely plenty of tears). But I continually remind myself how grateful I am to be in medical school and how much I enjoy it. And in those moments when I was really down, I thank God for his indescribable peace and grace that sustained me. I thank God for my wonderful husband, who despite experiencing his own stress and pressure at work, continues to support me and stand by me on this journey. I thank God for my family and friends who continue to pray for me and motivate me. Sometimes I feel as if I am a marathon runner who has supporters running alongside me shouting, “Keep going! Don’t give up! Keep your eye on the prize!”

One of my dearest cousins used to tell me that nothing worth having in life ever comes easily. This needn’t scare us about trying things and stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone! It is worth the effort, tears and sweat in the end!

I am truly excited to be learning about the human brain, nervous system and behavior over the next few weeks. This week in the anatomy lab, I had the rare privilege of holding a human brain in my hands. I hope this will not be too gruesome for some of you to read but I had to write this to express my sincere appreciation for the magnificence of the human body and for those people who donated themselves for our educational learning. To be holding the essence of this individual’s personality, memories, hopes and dreams in my hands made me reflect on how important each life is.

Featured Image by Potential Doctor: Sunset view of Montreal after a hike up Mont Royal 

 

White Coat Ceremony…Donning the Healer’s Habit

Today was a very special day as my classmates and I celebrated a milestone in our medical training…The White Coat Ceremony! It was a beautiful and inspiring ceremony as we reflected on the next phase of our training, the moments when we will get to experience the triumphs and challenges of helping our patients navigate their illness.

In January, we will be transitioning into clinical practice which is when we will begin observational hospital rotations (alongside lectures and small groups) before beginning our official rotations in the 3rd year of medical school. I am very grateful that our curriculum offers us this opportunity to gradually transition into the world of clinical practice as we wrap up our Fundamentals of Medicine block in December.

Today was a reminder of the immense challenges ahead, but also what an incredible privilege it is to be in this profession.

 

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My amazing, supportive husband by my side
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White Coat Ceremony!
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Going on stage to receive my White Coat. So humbled and proud to be a part of the medical profession

 

First Day Back at Medical School…Year 2

Today was the first day back at medical school and I am excited to have started on the next block…Reproduction! From looking ahead at the schedule for the next month, we will be covering plenty of topics that interest me such as prenatal diagnosis, obstetrics and breastfeeding. The block will be heavy in anatomy and histology which is a big challenge! Although it takes me time to master anatomy names, I do enjoy this part of the medical curriculum. Histology has been one of my favorite areas since the beginning of medical school. I feel like my brain just gets it which is very rewarding!

This afternoon, I had my first session for my Community Health Alliance Project (CHAP). This is where we each get to volunteer with an organization out in the community in order to give us more exposure. My community organization is in the area of Mental Health. I chose this because I do not know much about mental health issues yet I have seen it affect people around me. I am curious to know more about it, how it is managed and how I can help to break the stigma around it. The people at the organization were very welcoming and seem extremely passionate about what they do. I was very inspired by the inter-professionalism and I am excited to be a part of the team for the next few months.

I am hoping to try and keep a balanced approach to life during this second year of medical school. I know it will not be easy but it is my sincere wish to keep God and my family as my top priorities, to make time for exercise and rest, as I give my best effort to my school work!

PS… If you love to read as much as I do, or if you’re simply looking for something new to read, please do visit my “Books to Read” page. I have updated it with several new titles that I read over the summer. I hope you will find them as useful or inspirational as I did! Enjoy!

Summer Fun..and Getting Ready For the Second Year of Med School!

I can’t believe how fast the summer has flown by and that I’ll be starting the second year of medical school in a week!

It has been a fantastic summer spending time with my husband and kids, as well as catching up with friends and family. The kids developed a great love of swimming this summer and we went to the local pool almost every day. It was so great to see them getting over their fear of water and becoming more confident. It was also nice to catch glimpses of what their gifts and talents may be. My son seems to have a gift for designing and building things. He can come up with something from scratch without instructions! My daughter has such a depth to the way she observes and interprets the world and seems to just naturally nurture, comfort and encourage those around her. It’s been great watching the kids grow in their friendships with others. My son had his first sleepover at a friend’s this weekend and he had a blast!

My time at home with the kids also reminded me how difficult parenting can be. It requires so much patience and grace! Motherhood is definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it has also allowed me to examine my own character and weaknesses, and enabled me to grow. Regardless of the challenge and the weight of responsibility in bringing up, disciplining and guiding our children, I am so grateful for the precious memories of this past summer, and for the many moments I got to cuddle and kiss my children!

This summer, I also got to spend a day shadowing at a hospital and it was a fantastic experience! One of my favorite blocks during the first year of medical school was Cardiology and so I wanted to find out more about what it’s like in the hospital setting. So, I spent the morning rounding on patients in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) and the afternoon in the ER doing Cardiology consults. The staff physicians, residents, and fellows were wonderful to work with. I loved the Interprofessional aspect of the medical team and how everyone on the team could give their input on a case. I got to interpret some ECGs, examine patients, take a partial medical history, observe the management of patients with a variety of cardiac conditions, and even got to give some input on differential diagnosis. It was so interesting and mentally stimulating! I was moved by my interactions with the patients who had much to teach me about the experience of illness and hospitalization.  I will definitely be adding Internal Medicine to my list of potential specialties for the future!

As the summer break comes to an end, I hold my memories with the kids close to my heart! I am excited to be starting my second year of medical school (and also excited for my son who is starting Grade 1!)

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Science in action! The kids making a battery out of a lemon which powered a digital clock. They were fascinated!

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The kids’ favorite place to be!

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He could look at books for hours! I love watching him!

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Enjoying the view from Jack Layton Park

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His first time kayaking on Lac Simon….he loved it!

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Baby girl canoeing with daddy on Lac Simon

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It’s so fun being a kid!

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Canoeing with daddy on Horseshoe Lake (Saint Agathe-des-Monts)
 

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Yummy ice-cream in Saint Anne-de-Bellevue

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Ready to hit the pool!

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Hike and picnic on Mont Rigaud

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“Elementary, my dear Watson!”…..the kids came up with their own play and costumes!