Clerkship Update: Pediatrics Inpatient

Clerkship updates! I just completed a 4-week rotation on the pediatric wards and it has been one of my favorite rotations so far! My schedule consisted of 2 weeks of day shifts and 2 weeks of evening/night shifts plus 2 weekends. During the day shifts, my day consisted of teaching sessions/lectures, rounding on patients, writing progress notes and discharge summaries. My night shifts mostly consisted of admitting patients to the ward and writing admission notes. I also spent one amazing afternoon in the newborn nursery where I had the opportunity to refine my skills in conducting a newborn physical exam.

What I enjoyed the most

I very much enjoyed working with children of all ages and worked with a fantastic team of staff physicians and residents from different specialties (pediatrics, family medicine and pediatric neurology). There was also excellent teaching during this rotation with plenty of support. I felt I grew in my history taking, physical exam skills as well as coming up with a differential diagnosis and management plan. I felt that having had my own children really helped me communicate with young children and relate to the anxieties that parents have about their sick children. Also, although I used to dread the night shifts, I decided to change my attitude about it and focus on the positive aspects of working at night such as avoiding rush-hour traffic and getting to spend the mornings with my children, go on walks with them, or surprise my son at school at lunch time.

What I struggled with the most

My greatest challenge during this rotation was having to communicate in French. Many of the patients and families I encountered were Francophone and did not speak much English so I was forced to put my French language skills to the test! It was not easy getting a history or communicating plans to families in French but it certainly gave me plenty of practice! I definitely feel that I am improving!

My take home message

Pediatrics is a fantastic field if you love children and interacting with families as a whole. I also find the environment to be very positive and supportive! When it comes to night shifts, working strange schedules in medicine can be a challenge both mentally and physically. However, trying to find ways to adapt, adopting a positive mindset and getting creative with our time can ease the strain and pleasantly surprise us!

This ends my very first block of third year!  I am very excited to be starting my rural Family Medicine rotation next! Stay tuned!

Featured image photo credit: lakeviewpediatrics.net

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How Do People Feel Around You?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about defining what our daily vision is.  The next task was to think about the type of impact we want to have on those around us. When a person has spent time with you, what do they come away with? How do they feel?

The answers to these questions will vary from person-to-person but by consciously thinking about the mark we want to leave on another person’s life, it gets us thinking about the other person, thus moving the focus off of ourselves.

As I pondered this task, I came up with these 3 approaches:

  1. Appreciation: does the person feel genuinely appreciated and cared about when I am with them? This could be through my words, gestures or behavior.
  2. Inspiration: is the person motivated and encouraged in some way by what I say? Positive and exuberant speech can get others excited about life!
  3. Attention: do I give my undivided attention, use eye contact and appropriate body language to ensure the person feels truly listened to?

In addition to daily vision (for example, persevering through difficult tasks, having a positive attitude, doing our work with diligence), the mental act of considering how others feel around us can get us more focused on how we affect other people.

 

Living a Life of Purpose and Vision

I read an inspiring blog post last week on the importance of the vision we have for our lives. What really motivated me about this post was the challenge to focus on and apply your vision on a daily basis.

Most of us have goals in mind. Some of them may require months if not years of effort to achieve. But what do we do in the mean time? How do we tackle life on a day-to-day basis? Our vision is not just limited to that goal we want to achieve at some point in the future. It is a daily experience that can help us to keep our focus and to live more fulfilled, purposeful lives.

This post asks us to consider three words that describe your vision. I had a hard time narrowing it down to just three words so I decided to come up with 3 concepts that encompass my vision for how I want to live my daily life. Try this exercise for yourself and see what words you come up with, particularly if you are grappling with a lack of direction or purpose at this present moment:

  1. Positive Attitude and Gratitude: On a daily basis, I am aiming to focus on the positive side of my circumstances and to reflect on a few things that I am grateful for. Today, it was simply the beautiful, crisp, fresh snow that I woke up to in the morning. It was breathtaking.  As I folded my children’s laundry, I looked at my son’s bright red Cars T-shirt and my daughter’s favorite rabbit shirt and contemplated the gift of having two beautiful children in my life.
  2. Excellence, Discipline and Perseverance: In my current stage of life, my main focus is child-rearing and family life. Having had a professional career prior to this, there are days when dishes and laundry can seem mundane. Does it really matter if I try to keep the kitchen tidy? Who’s going to notice anyway? I’m realizing though that it’s not so much about the tidiness level as to the heart behind it and the effort put in. If I keep in the habit of giving every task I undertake my very best (no matter how menial it may seem), I am training myself to give my best in all areas of my life, including my future goals. This requires discipline and perseverance. There are days it is difficult and I fall short. But I have to get back up and try my best, no matter what the task is.
  3. God and Faith: I grew up in a Christian environment and culture in Africa so faith is an important part of who I am. I find that daily devotions and quiet time to sing, pray, read and reflect are nourishing to my soul and remind me that I am not facing life on my own strength but with One who is greater than I am.

I found this exercise in defining ‘daily vision’ quite enlightening because it helped me to identify a general approach to life which can be applied to any future goal, be it living a more healthy lifestyle, starting a new project or simply dealing with the daily stresses and hassles of life.

Once you have identified your vision, the next exercise is to think about how people feel when they spend time with you. What impact do you want to have on their lives? I will share what I personally came up with in a subsequent post. Thank you for reading and I hope you are that much closer to thinking about how you want to experience your daily life!

(Thank you to Dax Murphy for his motivational post that inspired me to write this!)