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

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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 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)

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!

 

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 

 

Parenting Principles that Transformed my Life…Discipline is an Act of Love

A few weeks ago, I started a new series on parenting principles based on several parenting books I read over the summer (plus my own parenting experience so far). The first principle in the series was speaking positively about our children, affirming them while avoiding harmful and destructive criticism. Today, we move on to the second principle.

Parenting Principle Number Two: Discipline is an Expression of love

  • Do we really need to discipline our kids? This is a tough one! Some days, it’s so much easier to just let the kids behave however they want. But I have to remind myself that this is not true love. While it may be easier in the moment to not discipline my child, this is not in their best interests in the long term.
  • What are some strategies for disciplining kids? Each parent will have their own strategy and values regarding discipline but what I have found works well for our family is outlined in Brittany Ann’s book “Teach Your Children How to Behave”. The basic concept is teaching your children how to make the right choice rather than simply ordering them to “do” or “not do” something.  We as the parents then follow through with consistent consequences if they make the wrong choice. I am seeing the value of teaching my kids this from an early age.

Disciplining children is tough! It can make us feel like mean parents (yes, I have been called “mean mummy!”) and it can be tempting to take the easy route. As difficult and emotionally wrenching as it can be to discipline our kids, it is worth it for the long term character building of our children and demonstrates how deeply we love them!

 

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

 

Gratitude: Appreciating the Big and the Little Things

One of the things that I wanted to improve on from my last year in medical school was learning to slow down and appreciate the little things around me. I loathed the fact that mornings were rushed and it seemed like we were always ordering the kids around and rushing them out the door. With better time management and changes to our parenting approach, the mornings during the past week have been beautiful. I know that not every morning will go smoothly but I am simply grateful for those that do. This morning I felt grateful for 4 things:

  1. Brushing my little girl’s hair: I had dreamed of doing this ever since I was a teenager. After my first pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage, it sometimes seems like a dream that both she and my son are actually here in my life.
  2. Getting hugs from my dear son: As I was getting things ready this morning, my son suddenly stopped me and said, “Mummy, I want to do something”…he then enveloped me in a deep, long hug. Moments like these make the challenges of motherhood seem more than worth it!
  3. Being in medical school: As I looked over the voluminous material I need to learn over the next few weeks, I simply sat back and drank in the fact that although it’s a challenge, I am doing what I have been wanting to do for so long…and I love it!
  4. My Heavenly Father: I love the scripture in Psalms that describes God as a “Father to the fatherless” and a “Defender“. Having lost my father unexpectedly when I was 5 years old, I truly have seen God be a Father to me through the years. Despite the ups and downs, He has always been there for me. He is my hope and everlasting peace!

Take a moment to stop and reflect. What are you grateful for today?

Featured image courtesy of versiondaily.com

Parenting Principles That Transformed My Life…Speaking Positively

Raising kids is one of the greatest challenges one can face. It calls for the utmost patience, unconditional love, and draws stark attention to our own weaknesses. I personally realized that I was not as patient as I thought I was. I can recall my angry outbursts and frustration with my two young children (particularly my son), often feeling like I had no idea what I was doing when it came to parenting. I couldn’t understand why they simply couldn’t listen more…and whine less!!

This summer, with my kids home with me every day for 2 months straight, I knew something had to change with my parenting approach. I didn’t like the fact that I felt so much frustration and helplessness. I decided to take concrete action and found that I started to see significant improvements in my son’s behavior (and my own!) If there’s one thing that I have realized with kids, it’s that often their negative behavior is fueled by my own behavior and attitudes.

So what action did I take? In a nutshell, I prayed daily about the situation and I read parenting resources voraciously. Then I applied what I learned consistently!

I have distilled what I learned down to five basic principles which I learned from several different books and online resources. I feel that these ideas have completely transformed the way that I see myself and my children. I will share these principles with you over a series of posts, but let’s get started with the first one.

Parenting Principle Number One: Positive Speaking

  • Speak positively about your child and to your child:  A child responds to your demeanor and attitude toward them. If all they hear is negative words about themselves, this is how they will behave. Negativity can slip out unintentionally in a moment of frustration: “You’re so messy!”, “You’re so slow!”, “What’s wrong with you!!”. I know I have been guilty of putting down my son when I could have been more gentle or understanding.
  • How can you create a more positive environment for your child? Focus on your child’s strengths. What are they good at? What did they do well today? This can be in the simplest of ways, “Thank you for putting your toys away” or “You were really sweet with you sister today, that’s great!” or “You’re really good at building things, keep up the effort!” This doesn’t mean ignoring their weaknesses or any bad behavior, but it means putting more emphasis on what the did well rather than what they failed at.

This principle was inspired by reading “Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World” by Zig Ziglar.

Stay tuned for Principle Number 2 in this series of ‘Parenting Principles That Transformed My Life’

Featured Image Courtesy of jodysysler.com