Residency Updates: The First 3 Months

The first three months of residency have just flown by!

My first rotation consisted of Family Medicine Clinic with 5 evening shifts in the ER including some weekends. This made for some long, exhausting days but a rewarding experience overall.

My second rotation was in Obstetrics and this definitely stretched me outside of my comfort zone. My responsibilities consisted of helping with deliveries in the case room, seeing patients in triage, post-partum and doing ER consults. The schedule was rigorous and included night shifts and weekends. The most challenging part of the rotation was being away from family. I missed my husband and kids a lot! We found creative ways to treasure special time together and recently enjoyed a beautiful week of vacation together.

My third rotation was another Family Medicine rotation with a focus on Parent-Child. I had the opportunity to care for babies, young children, adolescents and expectant mothers as well as other patients of all ages. There were Youth Clinics, Breastfeeding Clinics, late shifts in Minor Urgent Care and also four 24-hour Obstetrics calls during this rotation.

I especially enjoy my Family Medicine clinic days which consist of seeing my own practice of patients. I am gaining a lot of skills on how to manage my own practice.

I love my Family Medicine Clinic!

In other good news, I passed my first licencing exam (LMCC I), the exam I sat way back in June! The kids are back in school so it’s back to juggling homework, extra-curricular activities with family time, social time and the demands of residency. Thank goodness for my amazing husband who continues to be a wonderful support. I thank God for His grace and ever present help when things get tough!

Overall, I am feeling more confident as a resident compared to my first month. There are still moments of uncertainty and doubts in my abilities but I am grateful to work with an excellent team and to be in a program that has such great support for residents (we have senior resident buddies, Faculty Mentors, Academic Advisors and more). Despite feeling exhausted at times, I love my program and feel so blessed to be on this journey!

Officially Graduated from Medical School…and Residency Starts Tomorrow!

Malaika Awori

It has been a beautiful past few weeks as I celebrated my graduation from medical school. It was not the conventional graduation ceremony but rather interacting with family and friends in virtual ways and in small gatherings. Even though I was initially disappointed about not having an in-person convocation ceremony this year and being unable to physically see family and friends from overseas, it has turned out to be so special! I have been so encouraged by the love and support I have received from family and friends across the globe! I thank God for His grace and blessings!

I have also been reflecting on how grateful I am to have had 3 months at home with the kids. It was busy with homeschooling, studying for and sitting my licensing exam but there were also so many wonderful moments of rest and relaxation with family and friends. Such precious memories that I will always hold dear! I am thrilled to have been featured on my dear friend Brenda Dogbey’s faith, career and motherhood blog careerslaymama.com. where we discuss my journey to Medicine, as well as tips for balancing motherhood and medical school. Do add her blog to your list of blogs to follow. It is insightful and inspiring!

I am excited to be starting residency this week. Each incoming resident has been assigned a senior resident “buddy” to help us transition to this new phase of our training.  I am also grateful that I will  be co-residents with several of my awesome classmates from medical school. We have our schedules for the year and I will be starting off with a 4-week rotation in Family Medicine and Procedural Skills Clinics with five evening shifts in the ER.

The Medicine Journey continues!

Medicine Journey Updates…Residency Preparation Begins!

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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.

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

Match Day Results are In!

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I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I matched to the Family Medicine Residency Program at McGill. It is a dream come true! My dear husband and children were by my side as I logged in online to view my results. We then spent the day together celebrating.

I have been so touched by the number of encouraging messages of support that I received from family and friends across the globe! Truly this medical school journey has a been a team effort! I am so grateful to my beloved husband for patiently enduring the past few years of a very hectic schedule. Endeavors like this truly require sacrificial love and support.

Although there were moments of anxiety leading up to Match Day, I am amazed at the incredible sense of peace God gave me that everything would work out for the best! He has answered so many prayers right down to the smallest of details. Truly a Father’s love is revealed in the loving care He takes of His children!

For the past month, I have been back-to-class taking some interesting Basic Science and Social Science classes which involved several presentations and a written assignment. We have some exams coming up plus a month long course “Transition to Residency” where we will go over topics such as Resident wellness, writing prescriptions, medical liability etc. We will also have some review sessions in preparation for our first licensing exam, the MCCQE1 which I will sit in early May. Graduation follows shortly after, and then…..Residency starts July 1st!

I look forward to all of you accompanying me on this next and final phase of my training…Residency!! Thank you for all your support and words of encouragement over the years.  I am so grateful and so excited to become a family doctor! Glory to God for his abundant blessings!

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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!

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!

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!