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!

Featured image: “A Walk in the Woods” by potentialdoctor.com

Enjoying the Journey

“Don’t wait till you get there!”

That’s my motto for how I see my journey through life. Don’t wait till you get to the destination, whatever that may be, to enjoy life. I view my end goals as something worth working towards but that I must obtain some joy from the steps I take along the way. Yes, it may  have some difficult moments but I cannot focus so much on the destination that I miss out on the fun in between.

I want to carry this “enjoy the journey” attitude into my aspirations to becoming a doctor.  It is a long journey to becoming a doctor and we have often heard terms like “grueling”, “endless”, “requires sacrifice” to describe the process to becoming one. I have had several conversations with friends and family who are doctors or who are on their way to becoming doctors and I have to say that although many describe how difficult it is, there are also  many who describe it with such passion and enthusiasm. I love those conversations because it reminds me to focus on the positives and that although hard work is required, there is also a lot of joy to be gleaned from the learning process in medical school right through to the extensive interaction with patients in residency. I do not yet have firsthand experience of the process but I am now at a place in my life where I don’t see becoming a doctor as some far off event that seems unattainable. I see every step I take, be it preparing for the MCAT, volunteering, talking to physicians or just learning about medicine as a career, as something beneficial, like a building block towards constructing my dreams. When my children play with Lego blocks, a lot of the fun is in assembling the pieces before obtaining the finished product. If they hastily put the blocks together with only the final product in mind, they would have missed out on the fun, problem solving and learning experiences of putting the blocks together. In the same vein, I am enjoying the “building” process that is going towards my medical career.  I enjoy studying for the MCAT and discussing new things I learn with my husband (we are both inherently nerdy!). I enjoy dreaming big with my brothers who are in medicine as we envision the type of work we could do in developing countries. These are all little steps towards the end goal.

Whatever your dreams or goals may be, writing a book, visiting a new country, going back to school, starting a business, changing careers, remember to enjoy the process of getting there. Don’t just wait till you get there!

Honeymoon
My husband and I on our honeymoon in Kenya in 2007

Caleb and mummy holding hands
My son and I walking along the boardwalk in Saint Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec when he was 9 months old

Challenges: The Life-Residency Comparison

So it’s one of those days when one of the kids is being a bit challenging. I didn’t expect this to be easy but man it can feel so discouraging sometimes! I’m trying to see the good in all the challenges I face. First and foremost, the Bible talks often about how struggles refine us and bear the fruits of patience and perseverance. I can already see that my patience threshold has increased since we first had kids. Whereas a particular situation may have thrown me into tears and gloom before, I am now learning to take a step back and look at the situation more rationally. How will this current trouble affect me or my family in the long run? Is it really that big of a deal? What can I learn from this situation or how can I turn it into something positive?

Throwing in a parallel to pursuing medicine, I sometimes wonder if parenting can be compared to residency. Endless hours of being “on call” for your children. Days of exhaustion, frustration and feeling like you have no idea what you are doing. But then also days of amazing connections, bonding, fun, laughter and a sense that even if we don’t know all there is to know about parenting, that a sense of unconditional love, warmth and commitment is what really matters.

So even on days like these when I feel a bit helpless, I am trying to see the positive in it and to remember the good things, like cuddling with our children, smelling their baby smell, holding them close, their hilarious antics that have us doubled over in laughter, or having them run to us with a look of complete love and dependence on us. Wow! It can be so difficult but so amazing. Very much worth all the effort and tears that come with it. I’m hoping that when I am finally at the stage where I am doing my residency, that I can remember days like this and remind myself that it’s all for a good cause and the difficult moments won’t last forever!