The Last Word

Kari, Fourth Year Medical Student

For me, this is not an end, but a beginning.

It’s been a privilege to attend Loma Linda University School of Medicine the past four years and now I am moving on. I’ve moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and very shortly I’ll start getting oriented to my Pediatric Residency program.

Before I say goodbye, I wanted to do a quick look back at the past 4 years:

First Year

It was pretty startling how challenging it was and it took me a while to get my bearings. I had a lot of fun though and it was so exciting to go from college to med school and take classes that were relevant to what I want to be doing with my life.

At Disneyland

Getting our short white coats

Second Year

Second year things got a lot harder. With Boards feeling imminent throughout the year and much tougher classes, it was hard to stay positive. I still had a lot of fun, I ran my first half marathon, became a vegan and started writing.

Fortunately my sisters were always there for me.

Third Year

Third year was tough because it’s such a change from sort of creating my own schedule to being a slave to the expectations of clinical rotations. However, it was also way better because all I’ve ever wanted is to do clinical medicine and finally I got to spend my days with patients. It was tough but great.

Third year banquet

Fourth Year

Everyone says fourth year is the best, and it is. Not only did I finally understand what was expected of me on clinical rotations, but I got to travel for interviews and then do a bunch of fun rotations and close out the year with lots of time with my friends. I also got married, which has been a great decision.

The view from my residency program on my interview day.

The academic year is about to roll over, everyone will advance a year and a new host of responsibilities will come to us all. As part of my graduation as an MD, I must also leave the blog behind to make room for the new voices about to start.

If you have any questions you can always email me at keyoung@llu.edu.

Good luck everyone, and thanks again.

-Kari

How To Have Fun

Kari, Fourth Year Medical Student

I’m going to admit something that makes me feel kind of lame: I think I’ve sort of forgotten how to have fun.

The swing at the playground by my apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely enjoying my life, but these final months are kind of a weird time in our lives. We fourth years are pretty much done with interviews (see my post on that here), and lots of us are doing electives that are of interest to us.

Now when I go to work I’m excited to be there and when I come home, sure I’m reading on my patients, but I’m not trying to keep up with a mountain of classes or study for a Board and there’s nothing left to do for applications but wait for Match Day in March.

And so I have free time.

Like, daily. 

What? Yes it is weird.

We worked really hard to reach this point. Long long hours in the hospital, overnights, never seeing the sun, so many tears shed over Pathophysiology––I know it’s not just me––and so much stress and travel to get that rank list ready.

And now I find myself startled by the small amount of stress in my life. Which looks SO silly when I type it, but it’s really brought home for me the fact that it’s been a long time since I had time for fun hobbies and I’m not even quite sure of what I really like to do. But I am completely caught up on quite a lot of TV shows right now, and I’m doing my best to try new things.

I might be mostly alone in this, but in case I’m not, I just wanted anyone else who’s feeling this way to know that it’s okay that we don’t remember what we used to do to have fun––we’ve been busy.

And now?

I get to see my friends outside of the hospital AND I get to see my husband.

I’m training for another half-marathon. This was the view from Smiley Heights on my run this morning.

I also bought a fish. It’s a baby betta. If we don’t kill it, it’ll grow up. Her name’s Victoria Dragonslayer, but I really have no idea if she’s actually a girl.

And sometimes I bake. I got out the Kitchenaid Mixer we got for the wedding and it made some sweet banana bread.

These are mostly things I’ve liked to do throughout my time in med school, and I feel weird but completely blessed that I have some time for them as we come up towards the end of these 4 years.

After all, residency will come soon enough.

The Blessing of Interviews

Kari, Fourth Year Medical Student
Happy New Year!

Now that we’re all back from a Christmas break that feels too far in the past already, most of us in third and fourth year are back to our usual work patterns and it’s been great running into some of you in the hospital.

Like many fourth years, I took several weeks off for interviews. Prior to coming back 2 weeks ago, many of us have been traveling almost continuously since before Thanksgiving.

I wanted to share a few highlights from my trips, photo style. As I have not yet matched, I won’t be sharing my opinions of programs or my rank list, but I went to a lot of beautiful places.

It all started with this bag my friends gave me for my birthday. It came with me everywhere. It’s giant but fits perfectly under the airplane seat. With this and a small carry-on suitcase, I never had to check a bag. However, since I flew Southwest which checks bags for free, I frequently checked it anyway so I didn’t have to roll it around on my layovers.

This is the view from Morning Report at one of the programs. Wow right?

The southwest was sunny and clear.

Snow all over in Utah.

Oregon’s amazing tram ride.

Boston has really tall buildings.

I tried to walk at least a little in every place I went because I think it gives me the best sense of it. Sometimes I took a latte with me.

I felt like Eloise at the Plaza in this hotel that the program paid for in Ohio.

There was snow on the Grapevine when we went through.

I just wanted to share that interview season, while indisputably exhausting, is a blessing. At what other time in our lives do we get to travel the entire country imagining what our lives might be like if we moved there, see amazing hospitals doing great work and meet piles of people who want to do the same thing.

And after most of them were done and I was bone tired, I got to head home to my parents’ house in Oregon for Christmas. My husband came with me, and relaxing there was that much more enjoyable because of the whirlwind.

Baking with my sister.

Walking our puppy Chaucer on the property. Loving life.

I finished my last interview a week ago, sent all my thank you notes, and after some consideration, I certified my rank list and got this email:

You probably can’t read that, but it says “Confirmation of Certified ROL” meaning, I’m done! I am of course allowed to change it up until February 20, but I have faith God will send me where I belong regardless of what order I put the programs in. I’ve done my best to be honest with myself, but messing around with my list isn’t going to change where He wants me to go, so it feels good to let it go.

So now that there’s nothing left for me to do but wait for March 11 (finding out if we matched) and then March 15 (finding out where we matched) it feels like a strange balance of relief and nervous anticipation.

It would be easy to be anxious, but I’m trying to just enjoy my electives, my friends and this time when my worries are out of my control.

So again, welcome back, have a great week!

Firsts and Lasts

Hi everyone.

Happy Mid-November––have you started the Christmas music yet? I have. Sweaters. Tea. I love this time of year.

This month I’ve been rotating in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. It’s a great place to learn and see lots of interesting cases and super sick kids – which is good for education, if a little heart-wrenching sometimes.

A couple things happened in the past week––some firsts and lasts.

First the Last: I did my last overnight call! I think it may be my last overnight call [as in, 28 hours straight] until I’m a senior resident with the new work hours, since we can’t do more than 16 at a time for interns. It seemed sort of weird, but I’m sure the time will fly by until I’m a senior and wondering how it could be only 1.5 years ago that I said, “Yay my last call for ages!”

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Now a First: My first residency interview! I’ll be traveling in earnest after Thanksgiving, but while I’m still on rotation I just a have a couple local ones. I went over to Orange for the UCI/CHOC program, and I would say it was a positive experience. I also wore my new interview suit for the first time.

Here it is in my closet:

Why am I showing you a picture of my suit? Because of this:

Yes, that’s the stitch at the bottom of the jacket that holds the flaps together. I went through my WHOLE interview with it still there – and it was in the full X shape – I just had started to take it out before I took this picture.

So a word of caution, though I’m reasonably confident I’m the only one who would do this, take the tack stitches out of your new suit before you go try to make a good impression. Oh well.

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Another First: the first day with a high below 70! [If you fact check me, you may find that's not 100% true, I really have no idea. But do you really have time to fact check me? Get back to work, crazies.]

Anyway it was truly cold. I went out at 6:30 AM on Sunday and I looked like this:

And, because we’re all a bunch of cold-intolerant creatures down here, proof I’m not bundled up just because I’m a wimp:

28 degrees! It felt awesome.

And so that’s pretty much life in Loma Linda right now––rotations, interviews, finally a little cold.

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As I start my national travels for interviews, I’ll keep you posted.

Now turn on some Christmas music. It’s time!

Power Out: Silver Lining Hunting

This is a story about expectations and circumstances beyond our control.

The power went out on campus last week.

I was in the pool. It was 6 am, so it was pretty dark. They wouldn’t let us stay in because the lifeguards wouldn’t have been able to see us if we drowned. Fair enough.

This is not the first time this has happened. The power going out, not the pool part.

The last time I was on my sub-internship on pediatrics and it was about 4 am. I was on call overnight and it had been plenty busy. There was a crazy thunderstorm outside and the hospital may or may not have been struck by lightning. I’m not trying to start any rumors, I’m just telling you from where I was sitting by the window on the fifth floor, that’s what it looked like.

Residents were furiously trying to finish history & physicals on the new patients so they’d be ready for when the day teams who come in at 6. It’s a sinking feeling when you’re typing along and that screen goes dark. Not to mention if you’re sitting in a room without auxiliary lighting. I tripped over at least 2 backpacks. Fortunately what had already been typed up on the patient saves to the server, backup generators come on for ventilators and things like that so that patients are okay, and our biggest problem was finding some computers that didn’t require the main power so we could keep working.

Point is, it worked out.

Let me preface this next part by saying that I realize my dilemma with this recent incident is small. Thousands of appointments had to be cancelled, patient care gets much more difficult without electronic records given our current system, and I’m sure there were lots of legitimate problems to deal with.

Back to my important workout problem.

I was kind of frustrated. My first reaction was not the peaceful “make the best of it” reaction I had hoped for. I had gotten a bit of a later start on a swim morning than I would have liked. I was only 8 laps in, and had been excited about it being a swim workout day. When forced to get out of the pool, I headed home and resolved to run instead. It’s only a few miles back to my apartment, but in that short distance, I found myself getting angry.

“I can’t believe I drove all the way here and now I’m just driving back to run around my neighborhood. I could’ve saved that gas.”

“This is my own stupid fault, I would have been almost done if I’d gotten there at 5:30 like I planned instead of sleeping that extra 20 minutes.”

“I’m wet and chlorine-coated for nothing.”

“This totally throws off my morning timeline. I was supposed to be studying pretty soon. Do I skip the workout altogether? What’s worse? Stupid power.”

“Also I’m starting to get hungry. This is going to delay breakfast. I hate that. I want my oatmeal.”

And so on.

And as I cycled down this path of whiny self-pity and frustration, I heard myself and realized none of those thoughts would make anything better.

I had an expectation: being able to swim and complete my workout at a certain time.

It was not met because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. So I took my frustration and went on a run.

Here’s what I found:

Forcing me to go later meant it was light outside and I saw a lot more beauty on the route than I expected. Also it gave me that push to feel like I was a little pressed for time – which shoved me past my usual procrastinating ways and led me to actually get things done today.

Here’s what I’m trying to say: There’s something good to be found in all the things that happen that I can’t control and when I look for it, things get better. 

I’m not going to draw any direct parallels to medicine, but I might think on it.

Wait, I lied.

In this time when I’m about to start interviewing at programs and traveling around the country, I’ve no doubt there will be numerous logistical circumstances beyond my control. It’s probably good I’m practicing my silver lining hunting with something tiny like an early morning swim.