Setting Sights On Free Time

After three long, grueling, educational and interesting weeks, I’ve finally completed my experience on the Surgical Oncology service!

Ad Yas GIF by Gap

The hours that I worked while on that service were some of the longest that I’ve ever worked while in medical school. However, I also saw some of the most intriguing things that I’ve ever witnessed during my time as a medical student and assisted with some of the operations in ways that I never thought I would be ever able to do as a student. Like, I was literally burning off connective tissue from the intestines at one point! (With guidance of course 😄) The operations that I got the opportunity to participate in ranged from simple and quick 30-minute procedures to complex and arduous 9-hour marathons. It was quite amazing to be able to cut open the body of a living person and appreciate the organs that keep all of us healthy on an everyday basis. Some of the tools that we would use during the surgeries were pretty cool too, almost extravagant even. I never knew there were so many surgical tools out there made specifically to burn flesh! Also, it never failed to blow my mind whenever we would see someone we performed a major operation on awake and speaking to us the very next day, as if we weren’t inside their body less than 24 hours prior. Of course they had to stay in the hospital for some time in order to recover, but it was still pretty wild to have full conversations with them shortly after having literally touched their guts.

tlc what GIF

Overall, these past three weeks were hard yet fulfilling, and I experienced so much during my time on this service. The team I worked with this past week were filled with excellent people who allowed me to do more than I could’ve ever anticipated. I also felt like I had really gotten into the groove of things by the time Friday rolled around, and I could really feel just how much I had grown from when I first started Surg-Onc. For example, when one of my classmates joined me on the service early last week, I found myself informing her of how the service was run, how to perform tasks and present patients in a way that the team would appreciate, and the things that she could do to maximize her experience during her time in Surg-Onc. I surprised myself at how much I knew while I was talking with her, because I literally hadn’t known anything about Surgical Oncology when I first started just a couple weeks prior to our conversations. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to participate in this experience and am even more happy that it was the first service of my Surgery rotation, because now I can look forward to having some more free time to study and get other stuff done. That’s right, no more 4:15 AM alarms!! Well, only until I get to the Anesthesia service in three weeks. I’ll have to be at the hospital at 6 AM at that time, which means I’ll be back to waking up around 4:45 AM lol. But that’s still 30 more golden minutes of sleep than having to wake up at 4:15!

Happy Eddie Murphy GIF

Now that I’ve completed my Surgical Oncology experience, I can look forward to starting Ophthalmology tomorrow! I’m pretty pumped about these next three weeks because as you may or may not know, I’ve had a particular interest in vision care for a long time now. Although I’m now pretty set on a career in Pediatrics, I’m excited to be able to work alongside various Ophthalmologists and to fully immerse myself in a field that I had previously been pursuing for years. I’ll also have more free time on this service to adequately study for the Surgery shelf exam that I’ll be taking a little over a month from now. Now you might go and say, “Christel, that’s so far away! Are you really pressed about studying for that test now??” And my response to that would be, “Yeah I know it’s not coming up soon…but past experience in my previous rotations tells me that it’ll be here before I know it! Plus, I’ve barely had time to even think about it these past three weeks, let alone study for it!” I’ll definitely need all the free time I can get to prepare for it. I’ll also need this newfound free time to work on SNMA stuff in preparation for the Annual Medical Education Conference next month (I can’t believe AMEC is only a month away!!), to work on my fourth-year schedule, to work on this blog and to do other tasks that I’ve recently been forced to put off. I’ve already been able to use some free time this weekend to participate on a student panel at the annual Pre-Med conference that my school’s SNMA chapter organizes each year, and as with every panel I’ve ever participated on, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was reminded of how blessed I am to be where I’m at! Oh, and I’m definitely going to be using some of my free time to make up for the sleep that I lost these past few weeks! I have a feeling that these next few weeks will prove to be ones that were worth looking forward to! *knocks on wood*

That’s all I got for you today! Be sure to have a fantastic week and an affectionate Valentine’s/Single Awareness Day! And I don’t know about you, but I’m HYPED to go see Black Panther this upcoming weekend! Got my outfit planned and everything…😏

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

– Black Man, M.D.

Taking Control

MAN does it feel good to be waking up at 4:45 AM everyday. Nothing like getting snatched out of your sleep by a screeching phone alarm that yanks your eyes open at the speed of light long before the sun even comes up. I love it when I find myself trying to calculate how much time I would lose if I snoozed for a few extra minutes, only to find myself getting annoyed at how much time I’m losing by making those calculations. The best part of all this is the moment I throw my covers off of me, turn on my bright-ass lamp, mutter a few words to myself, and get up to start my long, glorious, and enlightening day. 😊😊😊

Lol in all seriousness though, it has been a very fruitful week for me overall! My experiences with my team and my patients this past week have made waking up so freakin’ early worth it. I was able to do quite a bit of things for the first time, especially since the new interns started their academic year recently. In order to help the interns out as well as to build up my own confidence, I made myself available to call various departments for consults, to answer phone calls, and to put in orders for various patients. I also put in a nasogastric tube for the first time! The attending, upper-level resident and interns on the team unanimously decided that it would be a good learning experience for me and decided to task me with inserting the tube into the patient before I even had the chance to think about what they were asking me to do. As I performed the procedure on the patient he looked very uncomfortable, which was making me uneasy the whole time. But he then complimented me on my work after it was all done, which I greatly appreciated and thanked him for…because your boy was quite nervous about doing it. It also helped that he had these tubes placed in him before, so he knew what to expect. I also had the opportunity to pull a PICC line out of somebody, a task that is actually much easier than I had anticipated.

By making calls, checking on my patients periodically, performing procedures and providing updates about my patients to the attending physician on service, I’ve been thriving in this opportunity to take ownership of the patients under my care. With each task I complete for a patient, I become even more determined to provide the best care I can for that individual. With each presentation I give for a patient of mine, I gain a little more confidence in my skills. With each question I pose to the team, I feel a bit more knowledgeable. I’ve been part of the direct care of five different patients within this past week and I’ve appreciated all of my experiences with each of them. I’ve gotten especially close to one of them, with whom I had an almost two-hour long conversation with the first day I met him. It’s incredible to realize just how much trust he has put in me in the short time I’ve known him and how much he believes that I’ll grow into a great physician. I’ve also been moved by the positive spirit he has been carrying throughout his time in the hospital and the love & support that his family has given to him. Another moving moment that I experienced during the week happened while I was running to check on another one of my patients, who ended up not being in his room at the time. A worker on the janitorial staff was mopping up the floor in the room and I had asked him if he knew where the patient went. The janitorial worker, a man who looked like he could have been my grandfather, replied with,

“I’m not sure where he went, sir. I think some people came to take him somewhere.”

I was a bit surprised at the formality of his answer and told him, “Hey man, you don’t have to call me sir. And ‘preciate your help!”

He then stopped what he was doing, looked up at me and grinned. After asking me how much longer I had left as a medical student, he went on to say, “You know what man, you’re going to be a great doctor one day. I just know it.”

I looked at him in slight wonder and replied, “Oh yeah? How do you know?”

He smiled even wider and stated, “I can just see it man. I see it in your eyes, in the way you dress, in your bowtie and in your attitude. Keep it up man.”

In a moment of awe and gratitude, I thanked him for his kind words and that they meant a lot to me. I then wished him a wonderful day and went about my way. I ended up being in a pretty great mood the rest of that day! Small moments like that really do make me stop and think about how my interactions with some people convince them that I’ll become an amazing doctor. All I’m really doing is being nice to the people I encounter and taking the time to exchange a few words with them in a genuine manner. It’s wild that those basic actions, which are just a natural part of my personality, have the power to convince people that I’m going to become such a great physician one day. It’s also very refreshing to recieve those compliments, especially in the most random of times, and I really appreciate it every time someone goes out of their way to tell me about how positively they view me. It reminds me that I’m at least doing something right in this new dimension of learning.

I want to add one last thing to this post before I close it. I saw some new, unfamiliar people dressed in short white coats walking into patients’ rooms this week while I was going about my usual business. When I finally realized that these people were a few members of the new first-year class of med students, I was floored! It made me reflect on how far I had personally come from being that fresh, brand-new medical student who was a bit nervous about being in the hospital wards and talking to patients one-on-one. I really used to stress out about taking an accurate history from a patient! 😂😂😂 As I saw them wander into the rooms of the patients that they were assigned to, I wondered just what they were thinking about. I could only imagine how excited they must have been to finally be a medical student and to be able to interact with patients one-on-one. It honestly was refreshing to see them, and I hope to run into some of the new first-years soon in order to partake in their aura of excitement and enthusiasm!

That’s all folks! I hope your week turns out to be a joyful one!

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it it because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca

– Black Man, M.D.