Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rank List Dilemmas

I thought that making my rank list would be about deciding what kind of program I want to go to- but it's turned into so much more than that.  It's about deciding what kind of person I want to be, what kind of life I want to have, what kind of surgeon I want to be....  none of which are questions that anyone else can answer for me.

There's one type of program- we'll call it Academic Central, that is great in a hard core, down and dirty surgery kind of way.  The residents are the coolest, slickest, most confident and cool-headed people I've ever met, and I want to be just like every single one of them.  They work really hard, but they save people's lives every day.  They come out of residency completely exhausted, but also as some of the best trained surgeons you'll ever meet. They publish lots papers and are taught by "famous" surgeons who have invented procedures and written textbooks. If I went there, I would have little/no life for 5 years- but afterward I would be on the track to becoming a world-renowned whatever-kind-of-surgeon I want.

The other type of program- we'll call in Community Galore, is much more laid back.  Smaller program with a heavy emphasis on bread-and-butter surgery cases (lots of gallbladders and appendixes).  They work less hours, and they see fewer super complex cases.  If I want to be a general surgeon, though, do I really need to see 14 Whipple's?  Probably not.  And as a 4th and 5th year, you operate fairly independently which makes you actually ready to operate alone in practice after graduating. Their average number of cases is higher than Academic Central's, and yet they work about 20 hours a week LESS (that's the magical thing about home call-  you stay at home at night and only come in if they need you) .  I would actually have a life for 5 years (the current residents have babies, run marathons, play poker 2x per week...) and I would graduate as a well prepared general surgeon, and I could go to fellowship if I want to (but no one will be beating down my door begging me to come to their program, like they would if I was from Academic Central).

I'm sure that half of you think its a slam dunk decision in each direction- but it's really REALLY not.  I don't think I'm ever going to be the world-renowned surgeon in anything, because that's not what I'm passionate about.  I don't care about being "famous" or "cutting edge", I care about having patients who I can take good care of and who I can help.  I'm going into surgery because I like operating and I like fixing people.  The more I do that, the happier I will be. 

I want to have a life outside of surgery too.  I've been told repeatedly that being in academics is general at the expense of any kind of family life.  I want to have friends, and see my family, and have my own family someday who I actually get to spend time with.   Call me crazy but don't get me wrong- I'm not lazy.  I don't have a single lazy bone in my body.  When most other medical students take a nap- I write a novel and run a marathon.   I'm not hoping for less time at work because I'm lazy; rather because I love all of my life so much that I want to have time for all of it. Balance.  I would love to start volunteering with Danny in my free time.  I'd love to become an adviser at my sorority for women interested in medicine. I want to write another novel.  I want to run half marathons.  I want to get married and raise good kids. I want to have a full and meaningful life, where I can point at five completely different areas of my life and say, "That satisfies me."  Surgery should be one of those areas- not all five.

And yet, there is a little voice in my head that says, "You HAVE to go to the most competitive program that you can.  You HAVE to always be reaching for the highest medical school, the highest program, the highest job. Otherwise, you're wasting all your hardwork and abilities."  My competitive nature tends to highly value adversity and difficulty; as though something being challenging innately makes it the most desired path.  True, I like challenges, but they need to have meaning.

So I'm stuck between this unrelenting drive that I have to succeed, do more, reach further; and the very real desire to be a well rounded person who is happy and balanced in every area of life. ADVICE WELCOME.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Birth Control and Folate?

I was watching TV the other day, and I saw a commercial for a new birth control pill that contains folate.  Folate, as they correctly state, is to help prevent certain birth defects that can happen early in pregnancy.


Does it strike anyone else as odd that a BIRTH CONTROL pill would include something to make your PREGNANCY healthier?  It feels to me like a used car salesman who includes a free bus pass with every car sale (umm... if the car works, then you shouldn't need a bus pass).  If the pill works, you shouldn't need the folate because you shouldn't be pregnant.

I get that the company is just trying to do something to make their product stand out, but why couldn't they include something that helps you with every day life (calcium, viatmin D, etc...) instead of something to help with pregnancy?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Five Year Old Doctors

I just spent three days hanging out with Danny's sister's family- killing some time that I'm stuck in Chicago between interviews.  Today, his 5 year old niece asked me to play doctor with her.  I was obviously relegated to being the patient, but I was willing to go along with it.  Here's how the interaction went:

Me:  I have a cough, doctor!
Niece: OK.  I will listen to your lungs.  Take deep breaths.
**auscultates in 4 areas on my back chest and 2 on my front chest** 
Now I'll look in your ear.
**pulls my pinna correctly as she pretended to look in**
 Me: So what's wrong doctor?
Niece:  You have strep throat.  You have to take antibiotics.  You have to take all of them, and you can't skip any, and you can't stop early.  Otherwise the bacteria gets stronger.

I would put any 3rd year medical student toe-to-toe with that 5 year old, and I bet she did a better job of doing a classic pediatrics sick visit.  She won lots of points for:
(1) actually listening to my lungs correctly (3rds years do 2 spots on the back and call it quits)
(2) looking in my ears correctly
(3) making a clinical diagnosis without unnecessary lab tests (any 3rd year would've ordered a strep swab)
(4) spending 80% of her words on educating me about responsible antibiotic use

Well done, little niece.  I hope medical school is in your future.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Google Searches

I use Google Analytics, which allows me to see all kinds of neat info about the people who visit my blog.  One of the more interesting pieces of data that it collects is what search terms people have used who ended up on my site.  Here are some of the stranger ones, which I will try to answer to the best of my ability. 

"paying for medical school by running " 
Dear Financially-Challenged Reader, Running does not pay very well, or pay at all.  And medical school costs a lot. The only way that I can think of to make enough money by running to pay for med school is if you can run away from a bank very fast.  Like faster than the bullets coming after you.

"astronaut dislike doctors"
Dear Spacey Reader,  This makes me sad! I thought that astronauts and doctors had so much in common- we both never see our families, we are both the fantasy spouse of 1950's women, and we are also incredibly good-looking. I will make it my personal mission to never offend or injure any astronauts.  Except the astronauts in my novel, who were all brutally murdered.  By me.  A doctor.

"what to put jello in"
 Dear Confused Reader,  I feel the need to suggest some of the more obvious answers- a bowl, a plate, a cup, a spoon, your mouth.   But I sense that you are looking for more than that.  You could put it in your hair (as synchronized swimmer's do), your co-worker's office supplies (as the cast of The Office did) or alcohol (as every college aged partier has).  I hope that you found the answer on some other website, because you searched for this many months ago, and I bet your jello got pretty melty since then.

"usmle female blonde" 
Dear Girly Reader,  The USMLE is a computerized test which is quite fancy.  Yet unlike Google Analytics, which can in fact tell me the gender and hair color of everyone who visits my site, the USMLE sadly does not have that advanced function.   So take that test confident that the computer thinks you are a brunette male.  Your patients, however, do know your gender and hair color, so you might want to get over your insecurities before starting clerkships.
"long hair medical student clerkships" 
Dear Super Girly  Reader,  I'm glad to see that you passed the USMLE and have now made it onto clerkships.  I'm also glad to see that you still enjoy googling mad-lib style combinations of (1) your physical attributes and (2) parts of medical school.   You don't have to let your long hair stand in your way, but be wary of a few common pitfalls for long-haired docs: rectal exams, vaginal exams, homeless people exams, and any-kind-of-abscess-exams.  Just please don't show up on my site again after googling "how to stop chewing your hair".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Marathon Slideshow, aka Pure Awesomeness

I've always believed that John Williams music makes everything seem more important, historic and glorious.  This slideshow is no exception.  Get your tissue boxes ready, ladies and gentlemen, because this slideshow is about to blow your mind.

(Apologies for some of the low res/watermarked pictures.  I'm not willing to pay $99 per person to get the full size images)


Monday, January 10, 2011

Disney Marathon

Well, maybe it was a little harder than that.  But either way, it was WONDERFUL.  I felt good up until mile 22-ish, but even after that I felt ok (just very very tired).  Seeing all the Disney parks and characters was a blast.  My dad, brother-in-law and I all finished strong.  My sister jumped out a little early, since she was running for two (ie- she's super pregnant).  It's a little embarrassing that her 6-month-pregnant pace is not too different from my normal pace.  O well!  Here are some pictures!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I joined twitter! You can see what I've tweeted (twitted?) so far over there===>

I'll be honest- I joined Twitter out of extreme boredom. I don't do well with sitting around with nothing to do, which is all I've done this week.  So yesterday I decided to join Twitter.  I think it'll be fun, because there are lots of little things that happen in my life that it's fun to take pictures of and share with you.  A full blog post seems sort of intimidating to write, and I never get around to doing it most the time.  Hopefully I'll be better at twitting (tweeting?). 

And now you have another reason to visit my blog often!  Even if there's not a new post, there are probably new tweets!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'm On A Bus!

After a long "vacation", Danny and I have collapsed for the final leg of our long trip home: THE BUS.

"Why are you on a bus?!" you may ask, since you are my BFF and you know that I've been in Chicago and Oklahoma this past week (both of which are non-bussing distance from New England).  WELL- let me tell you.

This morning we had a flight from Chicago Midway to Providence RI at 8:30am.  Pop quiz for any whose ever flown: What time should we arrive at the airport?  If you answered 7:30am, then you are as smart/stupid as we were.    We even arrived 30 minutes BEFORE THAT, at 7am,  because we are rockstars.  We walked into the airport, only to find that 20,000 people (number provided by my imagination) were already in line to check bags at Southwest.  No biggie, we think, and jump in line to check our bags too.  The line wraps around the ENTIRE airport TWICE.  No joke.  We stood in line for 2 hours.  My math-saavy friends can tell you that those numbers mean that we checked in our bags 30 minutes after the plane took off.

Our only option of getting out of Chicago today (which- interesting piece of trivia alert- is the second busiest travel day of the year, trumped only by the Sunday after Thanksgiving) was to trade our defunct tickets to Providence for tickets to Boston.  Don't ask me why there were seats available to Boston but not to Providence- the last time I checked, Boston had significantly more citizens.

Since we flew OUT of Providence, that is where our cars are.  Which leaves us here, on a bus.  The only redeeming part of the experience is that the bus has WiFi.  Thus my sudden desire to blog from a bus despite my equally strong desire to nap.

Other things happened on my vacation too, all of which are more interesting and fun than my bus experience.  But it's my blog, and I'll whine if I want to.