“You Can Touch Me Now”: Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Medicine Essay Contest

This time last year, I had a patient encounter that humbled me. This patient, let’s use a random name (I’m partial to Charlotte), presented to the clinic with a complaint of breast pain. I wrote about this patient encounter – so I don’t want to provide too many details here – and submitted my piece to the Gold Foundation. I felt extremely lucky to have placed 3rd in the Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Medicine Essay Contest. Now, I feel extremely proud to see my essay in this month’s issue of Academic Medicine.

Click on the image below in order to read the piece. Feel free to share your thoughts with me!

Hope Babette

Advertisements

Pediatrics: Funded Away Rotations

pediatrics

I won’t lie to you: I’m not the most spontaneous. When it comes to academics and life-planning, I’m (to be frank) not spontaneous at all. This may not come as a surprise to those of you who have read my series on “How to Survive Medical School.” This time last year, a flurry of emails from then-MS4s-now-PGY1s launched a series of conversations amongst my classmates: “should we go on away/audition rotations?” For some of you pursuing fields such as orthopedics and urology, the question is not “should I?” but rather “how many?” For others, it really depends. The argument is raised that: if you go on an away rotation and perform poorly, you ruin your chance of matching to that program. I think that point is fair but I also think that if you go on an away rotation and you’re motivated and excited, it’s hard to leave a terrible impression.

Sure, there’s the “fish out of water” effect that is to be expected. Sure, you’ll get lost a time or two. Sure, the MS3s may perform better than you at the start. Sure, you’ll be frustrated because you’re nervous and feel like you’re not performing at your best in a new environment. You’ll acclimate. You’ll progress. They’ll notice. It’ll work out.

In the case that it truly is a terrible away rotation experience in regard to fit or workload – there’s a chance that it might not have been the right place for you as a resident. So even in that case, you’ve learned a lot about where you want to end up or what sort of programs you’re looking for when you start on the interview trail. Speaking of the interview trail, if you want to follow my journey the best places to do that are Instagram or Twitter. I’ll share a recap of my trail here on the blog after match day (March 2018!).

Continue reading

New Orleans: Vessel

IMG_5006.JPG

One week ago, I submitted my application to some amazing pediatric residency programs. This application process is in some ways easier compared to that of medical school – there are no secondary applications / additional costs, it’s extremely simple to have standardized test scores sent to each school, and the process is just in general streamlined. Nonetheless, this application process is unnerving. It is absolutely wild that…in March I will find out if I have to move for the next three years of my life. To be able to choose where you go to medical school is such a luxury (which, of course, I didn’t appreciate at the time). I’m excited and nervous about what comes next.

Interviews invites have been rolling in and I’m excited about the months of travel to come. I mentioned this on Instagram that as much as I am flattered that you guys are excited to see how this process goes for me, I won’t share specifics about interview invites until after interview season.

So what is going to happen to this space? I’m status post examinations (thank goodness) and beyond graded clerkships. I’ve shared my advice for MS1 – MS3 year coursework. I’ve shared some tips about USMLE 1. I have a few blog posts coming up about USMLE 2 CK and CS in addition to posts about VSAS and ERAS eventually. So back to the original question – what will happen to this space?

Continue reading

#tagged: Introduction

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Hello guys! I’m sure you’re surprised to see another post this week. Although I’m gearing up for the big day (ERAS submission aka residency application day – September 15th), I have a little bit more time on my hands. I’m back in my public health classes and I’m balancing that with some of the less time-intensive clinical rotations!

As many of you already know, I tend to share a bit of my life as a medical student on Instagram. One of my favorite fellow medical student bloggers / Instagrammers, Melina Rae, tagged me to introduce myself. Given the recent influx of followers on Instagram and readers on the blog, I can’t think of any better timing to reintroduce myself.

Here we go!

Continue reading

How to Survive Medical School: Obstetrics and Gynecology

I concluded my clerkship year in April. How crazy is that? Since that time —

  1. I took Step 2 Clinical Skills at the end of May — I passed guys!
  2. I took Step 2 Clinical Knowledge at the beginning of July (score is still pending)
  3. I completed a 2 week elective in radiology
  4. I completed a 2 week elective in allergy/immunology
  5. I spent a month in the northeast for an away rotation

file(4)

This post, admittedly long overdue, has been drafted for months. One of my friends (hi Ronke!) told me that I have to publish this post before she started her OBGYN rotation (aka on Monday) so I clearly didn’t take her too seriously.

As always, please take my advice with a grain of salt. If you’re looking for more advice, these are some pretty great places to check out as well.

Continue reading

“For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Too often, we find ourselves trapped in the mindset of “have to.” I have to go to work. I have to study. I have to go see the new patient in room 6. I have to make time to workout. I have to meet up with my friend for dinner.

I know I am not alone in this.

We, professional students, get caught in the whirlwind of our responsibilities and our interests. To-do lists that stretch far too long down the page serve as our lifesource. We are unfailingly hardworking. We schedule naps. We schedule social time. We fail to be spontaneous.

Continue reading

“Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.” – Oscar Wilde

IMG_2615

 

Is it just me or is 2017 going by extremely quickly? I cannot believe that tomorrow is the first of April. April is my last month of core clinical rotations. This year of medical school has been crazy. I feel like I mention in almost every post that medical school is hard. Each year in medical school has its own challenges. Third year is the awkward balance of two time-consuming roles: full-time student and health care provider. Each rotation comes with very different schedules (some schedules change on a weekly basis, others change every few days) and expectations. My biggest challenge has been to balance my work on the wards and to keep on top of my academics (there’s always a shelf exam on the horizon) and personal obligations (appointments and engagements).

I can easily say that the key to my sanity as a medical student is how I organize my day to day.

Continue reading

How to Survive Medical School: Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Neurology

The third out of eight weeks of OBGYN is coming to a close. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy deliveries (yay to babies) but my mind is on what follows this rotation.  Make sure to follow along with my day-to-day life on Instagram and Twitter. Just a heads up: I have a really neat giveaway planned for next week. I have a feeling you guys are going to love it! 😻

IMG_2505

Okay so before I jump into my recommendations for each rotation, here are some other spots with pretty amazing clerkship advice.

Continue reading

“Memories have huge staying power, but like dreams, they thrive in the dark, surviving for decades in the deep waters of our minds like shipwrecks on the sea bed.” – J. G. Ballard

I have found myself caught by the inescapable vise of nostalgia. There’s a trend. It is often when thoughts of the future overwhelm me that I find myself retreating to the past. This is an extremely happy time. The results of Match 2017 were revealed yesterday. I am extremely happy for my dear friends as they move forward in their journey to be health care providers. This is an extremely unnerving time. Many of us in the class of 2018 are weighing a lot of major (at least they seem major right now) decisions: what specialty will make us happy, should we even participate in Match 2018, research year, away rotations, sub-I, STEP 2CS and STEP 2CK — all while wrapping up MS3 year. It’s a lot!

I’m made a few of the major decisions. I plan to go into pediatrics. I have scheduled STEP 2 CS and STEP 2 CK and they feel like they are coming up ridiculously quickly. I’ve registered for my MS4 coursework, but I’m sure I’ll have to make some changes. 😸

I’m in the process of finagling VSAS in hope of landing an away rotation. I don’t even want to think about my sub-I right now; I’m still just trying to get a handle on the rotation I’m on: OBGYN. Full disclosure: I spent two of my hours on call in the CBD eating lunch and enjoying affogato so it’s not like they’re killing me. 😸

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

I had a really heartwarming conversation this morning with a member of the ancillary staff moments before I had to scrub into a C-section. She asked me: “how long would it be until you’re a pediatrician?” I answered: “Fours years. One more year of medical school and three years of residency. If I sub-specialize, that will be another 2-3 years.”

She responds: “It’s a long journey!” I responded non-verbally. Maybe I gave a sigh followed by an uncomfortable laugh. “At the end of the day,” she said, “it will all be worth it. I’m so proud to see a smart black woman in this field. Keep it up my dear. Keep going.”

There’s a trend. It is often when thoughts of the future overwhelm me that the words of a kind stranger restore my hope.

Five years ago, I had an unexpected albeit restorative conversation with a homeless man in Denver . We discussed politics, homelessness, medicine, art, and our hopes for the future. Before we parted ways, he gave me a hug and said: “You are going to be an amazing physician.” I remember crying, I was so moved, when I made it back to my apartment. I remember crying even harder, I was so distraught, when I came to realize he passed a year later.

These words of encouragement have been such as source of comfort. For those of you who are also juggling feelings of excitement, anxiety, and doubtfulness, I have faith in you. We can get through this. One day at a time.

“I am tired of knowing nothing and being reminded of it all the time.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Four core rotations down. Three more to go. Today marks my second week of clinical duties on the psychiatric ward. It’d be a lie to say I’m not nervous about this rotation in particular. I mentioned some of my anxiety to one of my colleagues today and he responded: “oh c’mon, Ajibike, you’re always nervous at the start of a new rotation.” To an extent, he is right. There’s an overwhelming sense of I know nothing that accompanies the start of each rotation. It seems as though the moment when I feel comfortable on a new service is exactly when it is time for me to move onto a new team.

Everyone who knows me knows that I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. Many of his works are fixtures in my list of favorite novels. When I stumbled upon this quote, I knew it would serve as an honest introduction for this post. This quote = mood.

MS3 is the year during which you amass a ton of clinical knowledge.

MS3 is the year during which you learn to not “sweat the small stuff.”

A MS4 told me at the start of my MS3 year that I should be prepared for moments when 150% effort will be rewarded with an evaluation that reads: “Good student.” She told me that it’s important to hold learning the art and practice of medicine as my main priority rather than impressing attending and resident physicians. Unsurprisingly, I followed her advice with: “Okay…I hear what you’re saying but what can I do to be a good medical student.”

She gave me three pieces of advice that I still find incredibly valuable:

1. Know your place.

2. Take ownership of responsibilities related to your patient(s).

3. Present well.

What does it mean to present well? Each discipline has their own twist on the history & physical or SOAP note…but at the end of the day, a good presentation is: concise, thorough, and accurate.

The major 🗝 to a good presentation is: organization. On my first couple of clerkships I made my own templates to record information on each of my patients. I also toted around an myriad of documents (physical exam maneuvers listed and described and an extensive review of systems). On each team, I learned what my attending wanted from me and adjusted my presentations accordingly.

I felt a lot of pressure when I started my pediatrics rotation. I came into medical school with an interest in pediatrics and so when the rotation rolled around, I wanted to impress my attendings. At that time, I got my hands on a Perfect H&P notebook.

img_1614

This notebook fits in a white coat pocket and is affordable – only $15 guys! The notebook supplanted all of the documents I was carrying around in my pockets. I’ll talk a little bit about how the notebook is constructed in a moment. I will say that this notebook is perfect for wards work. Sure, certain disciplines may require a bit more material on topics not specifically mentioned in the notebook. I’d say that this notebook is a great organizing tool for internal medicine, surgery, family medicine, and pediatrics. I can’t speak to neurology or OB/GYN as I haven’t completed those rotations yet. I will say that I don’t think the notebook is as helpful for psychiatry.

IMG_1615 copy.jpeg

The template has checkboxes for basically ALL the physical examination findings and symptoms (for review of systems) you could possibly want. I will say that the section for laboratory results is on the small side.

One aspect that I really appreciated is the sect ion for differential diagnosis. On so many rotations, I haven’t been required to present my differential for each aspect of the problem list. That’s honestly been a disservice to my education but I’ve found that  forcing myself to think of a differential (of at least 3) has helped me to present more sound assessments and plans.

I’m hooked on this notebook and I fully intend to pick up another one before I start my sub-I in June!

If you guys have tips and tricks for presenting on the wards, I’d love to see them in the comments below!

Disclosure: Perfect H & P provided this notebook for free to be reviewed on this blog. All opinions are my own.