Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Congratulations Camille and Rajeev!

I went to a really lovely wedding last weekend. My upstairs neighbors (parents of Dante, a charming Corgi mix, to those of you in the know) got married and I had a simply delightful time. I got my hand decorated at the Friday evening Sangeet:

It got much, much darker overnight, but is starting to fade a little bit now. Most of my colleagues at the clinic are intrigued by it; one asked to clarify whether my hand was just dirty, or whether it was left over from the wedding.

They also had a photobooth, where I took some cute pictures of myself. Brighter folks than I took quick cell phone photos of the strip of pictures and posted them various places – I’ll try to remember to add that here when I’m back in Ann Arbor.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Out of phase life transition #1,000,000

My sister graduated from law school this past weekend. I'm super proud of her and am so looking forward to hearing about the amazing things she is doing now that she can put ",Esquire" after her name. That said, this is yet another person who by all rights was suppose to finish graduate school after I did who is now sprinting breezily across the finish line. And did it with style (Summa Cum Laude!). The psychiatrists call these events "out of phase" life transitions - like when a child dies before a parent or something good happens but it's still out of the order that you'd expect it to happen. Like when the students I taught as undergrads graduated from medical school before I was an M3. To distract myself from my seemingly never-ending graduate school career, I immersed myself in enjoying NYC for a weekend. A few pictures follow (with a bonus one of the dog thrown in for Claire - congratulations again!):

I was obsessed with the bridges on our Harbor Tour...

Mom insisted on singing the Emma Lazarus poem quite loudly as we approached the statue by boat. She threatened to reprise this performance when the guide read the poem as part of the tour.

A trash boat!

The graduation - my sister does not love photos of herself on the interwebs, so there aren't any here!

She loves Walter's face appearing on the interwebs, so here he is!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Welcome to M4 year, the best year since kindergarten

Cross-posted at Dose of Reality

I learned a lot last year, and one of the oft repeated nuggets of wisdom shared by residents and more advanced students alike was the joy of the year to come. They promised a less intense grading environment, electives chosen for purposes other than fulfilling core requirements, and more free nights and weekends. So far this is mostly true. I’m in the midst of a dermatology rotation at Henry Ford, a community teaching hospital in Detroit that is connected most closely to Wayne state, but at which UM students have the opportunity to do a few M4 year rotations. In spite of the fact that everyone seems slightly horrified that I’m not planning to go into dermatology, I’ve gotten to see a wide variety of dermatologic complaints while working with delightful residents and attending physicians.

Lessons I’ve already been applying from M3 year:
  • You will never know exactly where you should be or what you should do, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Smile a lot. People are less likely to think you are dumb if you also appear friendly and they like you.
  • Fake it. Listen closely to what your resident asks of patients so that when you have to see a patient by yourself, you know what questions they will think are important to ask and report back. Eventually you will make it and understand why they have asked those questions.
  • Wear gloves. Especially when someone has a rash on the palms of their hands, as it could be secondary syphilis and that is contagious through the rash.
New lessons I’m already learning about M4 year:
  • The word elective not only means something you chose, but also something that is not required of everyone. This means that the rest of your medical school training is unlikely to have covered this material and you will need to read a lot.
  • When someone tells you that something will be the best “X” since kindergarten, they do not necessarily mean that the entire thing will be filled with naps and snacks. They might mean that you can pick your poisons and that your schedule will be more predictable than previously.
  • Smile more. Especially when someone gives you the stink eye after you delicately explain that you are leaning strongly toward (read: have already chosen) another specialty and are just there to learn about their specialty, not to audition for their residency program.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Anatomy of a bike ride…

I went for my longest solo ride this season this morning, and during the few hours on was on my bike I thought a lot about training. Last week, I took Monday as a rest day after my 35 mile group ride on Sunday, and then did relatively short rides on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. None of them were great rides, and I was feeling pretty frustrated about my training regimen. I felt slow and sore, and really wasn’t enjoying riding my bike. Adding insult to injury, the only five minutes that it rained really hard on Wednesday were during the last few minutes of my ride. It had been sunny, with blue skies and fluffy clouds, and just before I arrived home, the temperature dropped by 10 or so degrees, the sky darkened, and the rain poured. I was cold, wet, and miserable. I wasn’t sure how to solve what seemed to be a combination attitude and athleticism problem, but a little voice in my head said “Is it possible that you are pushing yourself too hard?” I had brushed off the same little voice as I headed out on Thursday, and ended up cutting my ride short because I just didn’t feel good. As I looked at the beautiful, cloudless sky on Friday, I decided to take another rest day. It wasn’t on my calendar, but I thought an extra day of stretching might make me feel better. Lo and behold, it did. This morning when I got on my bike, I felt much fresher and was able to enjoy the burn up the hills, the wind in my face, and the perfect temperature of the air. I also warmed up properly, letting myself amble along for the first ten minutes, spinning faster than I needed to and pushing less than I could. I realized that I might have been sabotaging myself, pushing hard right out of the parking lot, straining cold muscles up the hills while lamenting slow progress, day after day without enough recovery time to get stronger.

For the record, it only rained a tiny bit on my ride today, which I consider a major victory. Also, my second lesson of the day was that I can, in fact, feel cold fronts move in while I ride my bike. They are not pleasant and I wish they would hold off until my ride was done…

Here’s to learning important things at the beginning of the season, and riding stronger AND smarter the rest of the summer!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Knitting in the new (M4) year

I’ve been on vacation now for a full week, and I must say that I am enjoying it. Although I generally like my vacations filled with tightly scheduled relaxing activities, I think I’ve had enough time off that I’ve been able to genuinely take it easy. I had a few things that had to be accomplished during the first few days of my break, and now that the manuscript is submitted and the abstracts are reviewed, I have been catching up on all of the amazing television-watching and knitting that I have not done over the past few months. What I have been working on and planning:

The wedding afghan: When my oldest friend announced she was getting married, I knew I needed to do something awesome. I love to make something beautiful and functional for a wedding, and while this often results in lovely dishcloths or winter socks (to remind the couple to enjoy even the small things), I just didn’t think that would be enough. I started looking at afghan patterns in spite of the fact that Laura lives in Miami, and finally found a throw I loved that would work in a cotton blend. I’ve finished it, and although it’s a tiny bit smaller than I’d hoped (maybe I just imagined that a throw was larger…), it’s lovely and I think it will serve them well.

The someday sweater: Perhaps this has been ill-fated from the beginning, but it is shaping up nicely. I’ve knit the entire body, knit and ripped out the neck edging once, and planned for the sleeves and finishing several times over the past several months. The current plan includes dropping and fixing a few stitches down the front, ripping back the bottom and adding a little ribbing, and then using ribbing for the neck as well. It is proving to truly be a someday sweater…

Other gifts: In the interest of not stealing the thunder from various other friends or spoil any surprises, I will simply say that I am working on several wedding and baby gifts.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Happy Belated Blogiversary!

I was looking back at my list of posts today and saw that I’d missed an opportunity for a reflective post. Not one to let that pass, I thought I’d share with you some reflections about the past seven years. That’s right, it’s been seven years since I started this blog on May 3, 2005, optimistically titling it “Someday I’ll Be Dr. Dre,” hardly daring to dream that one day I would actually be able to see the end of medical school coming up around the bend. I posted frequently for a little while, then less so, and then started blogging for the admissions office in January of 2006. At some point I moved all of those old posts over here as well so that everything could be archived in one location. Since then I’ve posted at least once per month (roughly!) in order to fulfill my commitment to the medical school, and much more than that over the past few years to fulfill my commitment to myself, to reflect on my life and share ridiculous images of my dog with the world.

In that time I’ve learned by reading others’ blogs to think about what is posted here, what is posted on the admissions blog, and what is kept private. I’ve learned by listening to friends and family what things they like to see and what motivates them to interact with the blog, through comments and surveys and even phone calls. I’ve learned by writing to identify my own many stages of burnout, to procrastinate creatively, and to frame my life in the way I’d like it to look. I’ve learned so much that I’ll probably keep going even after I’m Dr. Dre. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The sorting hat

Or, thinking about the residency application process

(Cross-posted on Dose of Reality)

Right before I finished my last rotation of M3 year, I had the opportunity to attend a dinner hosted by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for prospective residency applicants. It was a great chance to say hello again to the residents and faculty I worked with on my rotation and to learn a bit more about the application process. These sorts of events are often overwhelming and sometimes cryptic, but I was particularly struck by the reassurances from many of the faculty.

“Come talk to us, we will help you make a list that will work for you.”

“People who come and talk to us are happy with their matches. We can help you identify the right programs.”

“No, there isn’t another way to find good programs. Come talk to us.”

I left feeling like there was a sorting hat that would sit on my head, discern my clinical grades and Step 1 score, geographical and program-type preferences, and spit out a list of 15-20 programs to which I should apply. While this seems a little fantastic, it is closer to true than you might imagine. Having met now with three faculty members to talk about this process, I’ve come away with three fairly comprehensive lists of programs to consider.

For those of you not already familiar with this process (and those of you who are can skip to the next paragraph), the residency selection process is a match. Students submit applications through a central application system, and much like many other application processes, schools that are interested in particular candidates can offer them interviews. The similarity with most systems stops there, however. After the interviews, each applicant makes a rank list of programs and each program makes a rank list of applicants. These lists are fed to a computer algorithm that matches applicants and programs. The result it spits out is legally binding for one year. Because of this process, the list of program list an applicants starts with is important – there is only one application/interview cycle so there is no (easy*) way to go back and apply if one’s rank list seems a little thin or the match doesn’t go well.

As I’m looking over all of my lists, I’m wishing that there really were a sorting hat that could spit out a definitive set of options, but there aren’t, and honestly, I feel pretty lucky just to have a good sense of what specialty I’m entering and what I’m looking for in a program. I’ve created a spreadsheet (cue either scary or optimistic music, depending on your perspective), and am looking forward to doing a little sorting of my own. 

*I should note that if an applicant doesn’t match, then there is a second small match that used to be referred to as the Scramble, where applicants re-apply for program spots that have been left unfilled. This doesn’t happen often at Michigan, and certainly isn’t the best way to get the match of your dreams as the most desirable spots are already taken, but can yield an acceptable outcome for all involved.