Medicine Journey Updates…Residency Preparation Begins!

SMH

My base hospital where I’ll be starting residency in July! Photo credit: wikipedia

Today was a beautiful day as I visited the base hospital where I will be starting residency in July. I parked my car some distance from the hospital so I could enjoy a 10 minute walk in the brisk fresh air. I had flashbacks of me walking the same route before dawn during my Surgery rotations in medical school!

Today, we were scheduled to have our hospital ID cards done and be fitted for our N95 masks. It has been nearly 6 months since I was last there and it was nice to be back wandering the halls of the hospital revisiting memories of my Internal Medicine, Surgery and Geriatric rotations that I had the privilege of doing there last year. Of all the hospitals that I rotated through during medical school, this one really won my heart for its collegial atmosphere and community spirit. It also has a wonderful view of the St. Joseph’s Oratory standing majestically on Mount Royal.

Saint Joseph's Oratory, Montreal

Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal. It is the largest church in Canada and one of the largest church domes in the world. Photo credit: Canadian Immigrant

Today, despite the fact that the hospital  was much quieter than one would expect for a week day, I received friendly nods from behind faces with masks and one or two people with twinkles in their eyes as they asked if they could help me find what I was looking for. It really is an answered prayer that I was assigned to this hospital for residency as it was my top choice!

It was really special to see some of my medical school classmates who I have not seen in person since schools and universities were closed 2 months ago, and it was a pleasure to meet new residents from other regions who will be joining us on the 2 year journey to completing our residency in Family Medicine.

This week, I  managed to schedule a date for my first licensing exam (the MCCQE1) which I will sit on June 14th. I also have a few pending immunization requirements to complete. I’m getting really excited (and of course slightly terrified) to be starting residency in 1.5 months. It will be a new phase, a new journey, with new challenges in a COVID-19 world but I remain optimistic that it will be a wonderful journey despite the challenges.

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!

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