Thursday, May 14, 2015

Impact of Residency and Finally Realizing a Dream

Ok, so that was really bad. My last blog entry was in 2012…..? Oh how the time flies. Or maybe the proper thing to say is, oh how all consuming residency is! I must admit that over the past 2+ years I don’t recall even thinking about this blog….not even once. There were just too many other things going on in life. A lot has happened since 2012.


Intern year: Being an intern was the most challenging, stressful, time consuming, tiring thing I have ever done in my life. There were many times along the way I thought, “why did I become a doctor? I wish I could quit.” I have to say that an amazingly supportive family and friends and an amazingly supportive residency program are the things that keep you going when the going gets tough. Intern year consisted of 9 out of 12 months on “inpatient” services. This means caring for hospitalized patients and working long hours. Duty hour restrictions mandate that interns can’t work more than 80 hours per week (but averaged over 4 weeks) and that you must have 4 days off per month (to name a few). Many weeks are longer than 80 hours per week and a day can be up to 16 hours. There is not always a lot of time to sleep! As family medicine residents, we rotate through inpatient pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics, ICU and family medicine. I often had feelings of inadequacy and being too slow and inefficient. Luckily, time passes and intern year comes to an end eventually. Upon looking back at the tough times, I do realize how much I learned and grew as a doctor. I was lucky to be at Masonic and feel thankful everyday that I am surrounded by such great doctors, teachers and friends!

PGY2 year: Hours improved during the second year but with that comes more responsibility as a “Senior Resident”. This means taking 24 hour in house call at the hospital and being alone covering the service overnight, along with supervising interns during their family medicine service months. Being a senior was definitely stressful but it is also fun to help teach and give advice to your juniors - you can understand and relate to what they are going through! This year consisted of much more outpatient work and better hours. I found most of my irritation to come through working in the clinic and fighting with our EMR (electronic medical record). Clinic is normally very busy, moving quickly from one patient to the next, hearing about each patient’s complaints and concerns, and trying to give each patient the time they deserve but also trying to stay on time. At the end of a clinic, you realize the work has only just begun. Hopefully, you have entered some data into the EMR, but usually there is plenty of charting to finish. I would find myself sitting charting for hours after my clinic finished. Luckily, I found friendship in my “work wife” Vicky - we would sit and chart together and sometimes go for Chipotle dinner after hours of charting. LOVE YOU VICKY!!!

PGY3 year (present time): Now I find myself in my 3rd and final year of residency. I knew my goal coming into family medicine residency was to do a sports medicine fellowship. Most of the work to make this a reality comes during the 3rd year which consists of audition rotations, applications, interviews and once again the dreaded MATCH!!!! I decided to do 2 audition rotations - one at Notre Dame and the other at Michigan State. I picked Notre Dame because over the past 2 years we had matched a resident from Masonic into their sports fellowship. My story about MSU dates back to several years back when I learned about Dr. Larry Nassar - head team physician at USA gymnastics. After doing some research, I saw that he was at MSU and seemed to be part of their faculty. I knew this was a place where I could potentially work with Dr. Nassar and gets lots of experience and exposure to working with gymnasts. I was able to set up an away rotation there, which was a great experience. At that time, I met Dr. Brooke Lemmen (the fellowship director) who is a former gymnast. We learned early on in my rotation that we had both attended U of I gymnastics camp in our younger years and the following day Dr. Lemmen brought in a picture from camp where we were literally standing 3 people away from each other! What a small world! The application and interview process was long and hard, especially because Bill had already matched into a fellowship of his own doing neuroradiology at Northwestern Hospital and a fellowship anywhere but Chicago would mean long distance again for us. All in all, I knew I wanted a strong collegiate experience in my fellowship and I didn't’ think I could get that in Chicago. On January 7th, 2015, while on my first Utah ski trip in over 10 years, I got the news that I had matched at MSU!!!! It was dream come true and the realization that all of this hard work in residency had paid off. Soon I will get to focus on learning about the care of patients with problems related to sports and exercise. One of the most exciting things for me will be directly working with MSU athletic teams and taking care of not only their musculoskeletal injuries, but also general primary care. It has been a long time in the making, but I am finally realizing my dream!

Hopefully more to come from me in the near future!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Impact of a Thank You

I have spent the last month working at Hope Children's Hospital for my pediatric inpatient rotation. I worked on average 12-14 hour days and had a stint of 6 14 hours night shifts in a row. There were very sick kids and it was overwhelming as my first inpatient service month. There was lots of frustrations, lots of feeling overwhelmed, and lots of feeling like a not so great resident. There were even a fair share of tears. However, tonight, on my last night at Christ, I had a moment that made me think that the whole month was really worth it and that I am making a difference. I have been taking care of 4 week old boy for the past 6 days. Tonight I told the mom that this would be my last day here. She spent several minutes telling me how much she appreciated my help in taking care of her son, how she appreciated my patience and how nice she thought I was. She said thank you again and gave me a big hug. It really had such a big impact on's amazing how just hearing a simple "thank you" or "we appreciate your hard work" can really make all the difference in your outlook. I feel that as residents we work so hard and try to do the best thing for our patients at all times. Almost everything I think about and do relates to my patients. It was so so so amazingly nice and refreshing to hear a simple thank you from a family. It really made me smile and made me have a good feeling about the past month. I know I have a lot to learn and that I made my share of mistakes during this month, however, I also know that there is something to be said for working hard and being compassionate. I really hope I made a difference in my patient's lives and helped them while they were in the hospital. I am now feeling as though I could fall sleep while writing this, so I think it is time to call it a night. I am ecstatic to have a day off tomorrow and I hope to try and get some "normal" stuff done tomorrow like going to the grocery store, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, going to the gym, and relaxing a bit too :) :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

And then I was a Doctor!

Where has the time gone? So much has happened since my last post that it is impossible to recap everything.

The End of 3rd Year - When I last wrote I was in the middle of my pediatrics rotation. After that, I began Family Medicine for 6 weeks. SIU is unique in that it lets it's student go to their hometowns to work with a local family physician. I was lucky enough to get the chance to work with Dr. Chris Nelson who works at Carle in Mahomet. I had so much fun working with him in his clinic. He knew everything about his patients and his patients really loved having him as their doctor. During the final week I was able to be a part of the inpatient Family Medicine Service at Carle Hospital. It was neat to get to learn about Carle and compare and contrast hospital versus clinic work. After those 6 weeks, I did my Psychiatry rotation. On this I spent 2 weeks on the inpatient psychiatry service, two weeks on the substance abuse service, one week in the Partial Unit which is a group that meets daily to help with the transition from inpatient to outpatient life, and one week on consult service in the hospital where we see any medical patient who needs a psychiatric consult. Overall, it was a very interesting experience! I liked it, but not enough to do it full time.

4th Year - Heading into the beginning of 4th year was pretty scary because I still did not know what I wanted to do with my life! In August I did an away rotation at UIC in Chicago in ENT. This was a very fun, but very exhausting, month. Most days started at 5am and got done after 6 (however, the residents normally had to stay longer). I got to see a good deal of surgical procedures including tonsillectomies, myringotomy tube placements, rhinoplasty, thyroidectomies, parotidectomies, and trans-spenoid approach to removal of a pituitary tumor. We also got to do a lot of clinic work. Although I loved the subject material, I really found myself unhappy, tired, and stressed out. This made me highly consider picking either ER or Family Medicine as my choice. My next rotation was in the ER. I liked it but at the same time did not like it. I enjoy all of the people in the ER. You never feel like you are alone, even in the middle of the night. There are always nurses, other physicians, techs, and many other students and physicians who come in and out. Also, the ER physicians at Memorial Hospital are top notch. I really loved working with them. However, I found the ER so hectic. It is hard to get to know patients, you are always rushing around having to sacrifice time with one patient for another. Patients are unhappy because they have been waiting so long. So, after much thought I decided on picking Family Medicine as my career choice!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Application and Interviews - It took me a long time to get my full application together, which consists of all of your grades, classes, extracurriculars, personal statement, and 3 letters of recommendation. I applied to every program in Chicago in hopes of finally being able to live with BILL! I ended up going on 11 interviews. They say that 4th year is easy because you don't have to take hardly any tests and you can pick what rotations you want to do, however, it was pretty stressful in my opinion. I went back and forth so many times on my rank list. It was crazy. That being said, there was one program that really stood out from the moment I went there - Advocate Illinois Masonic. Everyone was so welcoming and I really felt like I clicked with the program director. People kept telling me to go with my gut, which I ended up doing, but it was hard. I liked to make lists and compare every little aspect of the residency....who gets more vacation, how much parking costs, where do I get more electives, who has free food in the cafeteria, etc. I am so happy that I ended up picking Masonic as my number one!!!!

The wait - So, after you submit your rank list, they make you painfully wait for what seems like a year before you learn where you have matched. I have gone through all of this with the post about Bill. Finally, on March 16, 2012 I found out that I match at my #! choice!!! YAY for Masonic!!!!!!!!!! This was such a great day and I was happy to have my parents, Bill, and Bill's parents there with me.

Panama - In April I went on a medical mission trip to Panama with a great group of people from SIU. This was a once in a lifetime experience and I wish I had a post all in itself that described this amazing experience. Our group set up a clinic in several different communities and we saw about 200 patients per day. It was interesting to see a different culture and a totally different way of living. The biggest thing I took from the experience was that even though these people did not have much, they were extremely happy and very grateful for what they had. Maybe someday I can write more about this experience because I really want to share and document my journey. Oh yeah, I also turned 30 while I was in Panama! It was a birthday I will never forget!

End of Medical School - the end of school was bittersweet. As time began to wind down, I realized how much I would miss the great group of friends that I had made. I would miss family dinners with my loves Eliza, Shannon, and Jess. I would miss the hospital that I had gotten comfortable with even Springfield. It was scary to think about moving to the big city and becoming a resident, but also exciting. I got to celebrate Jess and Ben's wedding, Steph and JJ's wedding, and be the matron of honor in Eliza and Tom's wedding! We all finally graduated on May 19, 2012 and were all officially doctors!!!!

Now - Now I am set to begin residency tomorrow! I start of with a few weeks of orientation. My goal is to document my adventure on my blog. Ideally I will try to update with each rotation, but we will see how that goes! Hopefully you will be hearing from me soon!!!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh how time flies when.....

Time seems to be flying by rather quickly these days. One minute you are starting medical school and the next minute you are over halfway done! Third year of medical school is really what medicine is all about. I feel like this is my job - like I get up everyday to come to my place of work and work really hard all day and then get home and work really hard when I get home.

I started my 3rd year of medical school with my internal medicine rotation. It is 10 weeks long. I spent the first 4 weeks doing hospital inpatient care. We took care of many sick patients. As students, we had to take overnight in house call. I would get to the hospital by 7am one day and not leave until the next day at 1 pm! Talk about a long time to be up and trying function like a normal person. On my second call, I saw a patient code and another patient need a rapid response. Basically, both are really bad. Luckily, both patients survived. However, at this point, I realized how real this whole situation is and how serious caring for patients while the are in the hospital is. During the 10 weeks I also spend 2 weeks at an outpatient medicine clinic and 2 weeks doing nephrology. At the end of each rotation, we have a big standardized exam and then move on to the next rotation.

Next, I spent 10 weeks in surgery. I got 1 week in colorectal, trauma, orthopedics, ENT, cardiothoracic, and urology. Then we had 2 weeks on general surgery. It was an amazing experience to be involved in the care of patients before, during, and after surgery. I had fun getting to know the rules of the OR, how to scrub, and how to suture. I saw a lot of variety of things including: open heart surgery, knee replacements, bowel resections, burn victims, tonsillectomies, rhinoplasty, prostate removal, lumpectomy, appendectomy, and gallbladder removal (to name a few!). I enjoyed my time on surgery, however, it was extremely tiring and there were very long hours. I usually arrived to the hospital between 5 and 5:30am and often would not leave until after 6pm. Many many many days passed where I did not see the sun at all!!!! Overall, it was a rewarding experience.

My next rotation was Ob/Gyn. I spent 3 week on obstetrics watching/assisting with babies being born and C-sections. This was a crazy experience! Then I spent 3 weeks on gynecology where we did a lot of annual exams, hysterectomies, and urogyne surgeries. This was a very interesting experience, however, I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

Now, to present day. I sit here now in my on-call room during my peds rotation. Today is our 3rd day on inpatient service. So far it has been a lot of fun. I get to spend 3 weeks on inpatient service and 3 weeks on outpatient/clinic service. I am busy studying everything peds, trying to keep up "House", "American Idol", and "The Bachelor" between busy days and studying and also try to make it to the gym as much as possible.

Third year of medical school is very hands on training. It has been an experience to realize what life as a resident/attending will be like someday and trying to learn as much as possible until I get to that point. Somedays are hard - I fell tired, overworked, sleep deprived, stressed out, sad that patients get sick and die.....and I wonder why I ever decided to become a doctor. Other days days are fun - I feel like I have learned so much, like I can help people, like I made a difference in the care they received, and feel satisfied with the mental and physical challenges come along with this year and that this occupation bring.....and I know I made the right decision. As Dr. Constance says, you must "find your tribe." Each day I feel like I am coming closer to finding my tribe and deciding what kind of a physician I want to be in the future. Each day I use the motivation and excellent example that my dad and Bill have set and am motivated to work harder and rise to meet the challenges that are before me. I feel really lucky to have them as inspirations and also have the love and support of my mom and wonderful friends.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Hubby the M.D.

Congrats to my wonderful husband who is now officially a medical doctor!!!!!!! So proud of all of the hard work he put in to get to where he is today. What an inspiration! YAY for Dr. Bill!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bill's Match Day

Match Day is a foreign concept to a lot of people and it is actually really confusing for those of us who go through it also! This is my best explanation of what it is. Crazy people like Bill and myself decide we want to be doctors and set off on this journey that starts with 4 years of medical school. The first 2 years are mostly book learning and the second 2 years are more clinical experiences. During your 3rd year you rotate through some of the different areas of medicine and try to see what you like and what you don't like. Sometime around the end of your 3rd year and the beginning part of 4th year you have to pick what area of medicine you want to go into. Bill decided that he wanted to be a radiologist. So, the next step is to fill out an online application (ERAS or Electronic Residency Application Service). Here you put all sorts of information about yourself, your grades and scores in medical school, write a personal statement, provide your letters of recommendation, and select all of the residency programs that you would like to apply to. And people generally apply to a ton of programs!!! I have heard of people applying to over 50 places!!!!

Oh, so residency, I didn't really explain that yet. A resident is a doctor that has completed medical school and is now getting more specialized training in their area of interest. How long it lasts depends on what residency you choose. A radiology residency is 5 years. The best thing about residency is that you are finally getting paid, although it is not a lot of money, especially since you are putting in about 80 hours per week. Just a side note because this used to confuse me after watching Grey's Anatomy. An intern is just a special word for a first year resident. It took me a long time to figure that out! After you finish your residency, you can go out into the world and become an attending physician or you can pick to get even more training in a particular area and do a fellowship. Bill is thinking he wants to do a fellowship in interventional radiology. This would be an additional year of training.

So, once you have filled our your ERAS and submitted it, you wait VERY patiently for interview offers. The one thing I have learned about this process if you have to do A LOT of waiting. I think you submit your application in September and usually don't hear about any interviews until December or later. So, once you hear back from programs you schedule your interviews with them. You then interview at the schools and you check out the program as the program is checking you out. Now comes the crazy part. At the end of the interview season, each medical student and each program must compose a match list. For the student, you put down the order of which you liked the programs. Number one is the place you want to go the most and the last number is the place you want to go the least out of the programs you ranked. Only rank the programs that you would be okay going to, because it is possible to end up at any program that is on your list, or it is possible to not even match into a program at all!!! The programs then make a list of the candidates that interviewed with them, number one being the person they most want to have at their program and on down the list. Then, several months later, the Match takes place.

The Match, from what I understand, uses some sort of crazy computer program using both the student's match list and the programs match list and MATCHES each person to a program. On Match Day, which is at the same time and day all over the US, you open an envelop that tells you where you will be spending the next several years of your life. Let me tell you, this is one of the most nerve wracking days I can ever imagine. If you do not match into any program, you are notified 2 days prior to the match unveiling and you must try to "scramble" into any programs that have vacant spots. This does not seem like fun.

To make a long story short, Bill matched into the radiology program at UIC in Chicago. He really liked the program there and is excited about being in the big city in the future and closer to his family. Radiology programs are 5 years and the first year is called a transitional year and for Bill it is a preliminary internship in internal medicine. You normally go to a totally different program for this prelim year. Bill got matched to SIU!!! That means he will be with me in Springfield from June 2010 to around June 2011! We finally get to live together like a real married couple :) I am really excited about that. Then, he will leave and head to Chicago for his radiology training and I will have one year of medical school left in Springfield. Luckily, it will be during my 4th year when you can do "away rotations" at different schools to see if you like their program and you get to travel to do your different residency interviews.

All in all, we are very happy with the results and excited to see where our future takes us!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Too Much For One Post!

Okay, so it's been WAY too long since I have even thought about this blog!! About a million exciting things have happened in my life since the last post. Since there is too much to talk about, I will start with the most important thing that has happened and the most recent news.

What an amazing day! Bill and I got married on a beautiful but rainy day in Champaign/Urbana. It was full of excitement, nervousness, friends, family, and tons of fun! It was everything I had hoped for and more. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. The morning started out amazing as my bridesmaids surprised me with a early morning massage at the I Hotel. I had been so stressed out leading up to that day that I really needed some relaxing. Thanks girls! Then we went to Hair Design to get our hair done. Mine took a long time. I actually didn't really like the final result very much. It just wasn't how I had pictured my hair turning out, but looking back it did look ok. I also got my makeup done there. I liked it a lot and it was nice not to have to worry about doing it myself. My mom brought bagels and yummies to snack on, which was nice. Then we headed to the church in the limo bus and all got ready there. There were lots of fun snacks and fun times while we were getting ready. It was fun to see all of the bridesmaids get dressed. They all looked so pretty!!! Then it was finally time for me to get on my dress. This was exciting! After I was in my dress, my dad stopped by to get a sneak peak. Kenny Kim got some awesome pictures of my dad seeing me for the first time with my dress on and giving me a big hug and kiss. So cute!

Then it was time for the ceremony. I had to run under an umbrella from the room we got changed in to a little room in the back of the church. I could see out a window into the church and saw all the people coming in. It was kind of peaceful being in there by myself for the minutes leading up to the wedding. I reflected on how lucky I was to be marrying the man of my dreams and also how lucky I am to have so much support and love from family and friends on this day, and also everyday. Finally it was time to start the ceremony. It was fun to walk with my dad down the isle. I will never forget it. Seeing Bill at the end of the isle made me really happy. We took each others hands and the rest was history. Father Joe was really funny and made us feel calm during the ceremony. At one point I winked to Bill and Kenny Kim caught an awesome picture of it. I forget a lot of the details of the ceremony, but luckily we have it all on video. I should watch it again soon!

A funny thing happened as Bill and I were headed out of the church. He was a little bit behind me somehow he walked right into a glass door and got a big red mark on his forehead!!! I also had a little slip up about an hour later as we were taking pictures in between the ceremony and reception. We were getting out of the limo bus to take pictures at the Assembly Hall and I somehow managed to slip down the steps of the bus and fall right on my butt down the steps and onto the ground. It really hurt! Luckily, my dress didn't get dirty at all and we got some AMAZING pictures! Kenny was able to display some of the pictures he took from the ceremony and after on video screens outside of the reception hall. It was fun to see all of the pictures. I think people really enjoyed that part.

Next was the reception. The room was decorated really beautifully and the food was great. I was for some reason really nervous for this part of the day. I just wanted everything to go perfectly. My dad gave a really cute and funny speech. It made me cry. Then Will, the best man, prepared a sideshow for Bill that FINALLY played after some technical difficulty. Then Isabel, the matron of honor, and Mooshy (Kim), a bridesmaid, gave a beautiful speech that once again made me cry. Then, out of no where, Bill got up and gave a speech that he had prepared. It was so sweet and wonderful and unexpected. I cried AGAIN! Then it was time for the dancing. Bill and I had practiced our first dance a couple of times and we had a blast out there dancing to "When I See You Smile" by Bad English. Then my dad and I did the dad-daughter dance that we had practiced many times to "Butterfly Kisses". It was extra special because in the background we played an old video of my dad and I dancing when I was just a young girl. It was my idea to incorporate this and it turned out great. There were a lot of teary faces in the audience for this one. Then Bill and his mom danced to Elton John. It was so cute :) Then the dancing and fun began!!!!!

Overall, it was an amazing day that I will never forget. There were so many good memories. My family and I have talked about writing them all down so we wouldn't forget them, but we haven't done that yet!!! That is on the "to do" list.

Okay, the most recent news is that Bill is almost done with medical school and in just 2 days he finds out where he matches for residency. He applied to radiology and found out on Monday that he for sure did match somewhere (some people sadly don't match into a program at all!). Thursday is "Match Day" and he will open an enevelop which tells him where he will be spending the next 5 years of his life. It is nerve wracking but also exciting. I will let you know what happens!

BYE FOR NOW.....but hopefully not for too long!