A Black Female Medical Student

Hey! I know… its been awhile. Its actually been super busy. Immediately after finishing my home EM rotation I went across the country to do my away rotation. Now I’m back home, on a really chill rotation, waiting for interviews to come in. 

I am happy to say I have been fortunate enough to get a couple of really great interviews! Its still somewhat early for the EM application process, but every interview I have has been at a place I think I would be really happy to be. 

The applying for residency is such an introspective (and expensive) process. When I submitted my application (and forked over a massive amount of money!), I really had to ask myself, why are you submitting an application here? Is this a place you would really be happy over the next 3-4 years? 

I must say, my perspective has changed markedly since starting the application process! I started the application pretty sure I wanted to be in a certain type of program (academic), now I have no idea what type of program I would like! 

Its difficult because I feel like I certain goals outside of medicine that I don’t want to be distracted from or lose momentum for over the next few years. I have a deep interest in addressing some of the social aspects of medicine, given the large impact they can assert on care. My experiences in my public health program only deepened that! When I initially started the application process, I thought I wanted to be at a program that would give me the best clinical training possible… point blank and period. Now, I think I want a program that will help me develop all aspects of my career in residency, not just the clinical aspects. 

I would love to get started on community programming, or a policy-oriented project while in residency. But if I were to go to a program that has me clocking 13-14 hrs days regularly, where will I find the time? Or more importantly for me, the energy? I know people say you can make time for what matters to you, and I care about service and policy enough that I know I will at least try to get substantial work underway during residency. However, I know myself. I am not one of those people with an overflowing well of energy. My energy level is quite finite. Basically I’m saying, I know what burnout feels like, and I don’t want to feel that again lol. 

Location is also a major issue to me, I’m almost embarrassed to say. There are some top programs in EM that I didn’t even bother applying to because of the location. It’s really important to me that I have a decent social life. Add to the fact that I am currently single and looking, I knew that I must be in a major city or at least close to one!

And I’m looking for diverse faculty, good opportunities for mentoring, access to underserved populations, and interests in critical care and international medicine that I would love to explore more during medicine… sigh. Its a lot of things to think about! 

But yup… that’s where I am right now. 

So I’m finally on my ED rotation. A little bit of a rough start but I think I’m starting to get the swing of things. The patients are random, chaotic, sick and wonderful.

I had one patient who came in for one complaint, but like most of our patients, come to find out there’s another crazy unrelated issue.. she hasn’t had a period on 3 months. I asked her if she thought she was pregnant. She said, “I dunno.”

I asked her if she was normally regular, she said “Very regular. Like clockwork.”

I asked her if she took a pregnancy test, she said “No… I’ve just been praying. Waiting on a miracle.”
I didn’t even have the heart to tell her it didn’t work like that…. poor thing. I think she already knew anyway. She was such a sweetheart too. I liked her a lot.

 

Hey! I’m on MICU. Its cool. I like the fact that the patients have a higher acuity over the floor patient, you sit and make decision on things that could be life and death on a patient.

I’m working my way up to more autonomy. One thing I do like is the fact that my notes have improved A LOT, compared to 3rd yr. I thought I could write a decent note at the end of third year, but I noticed that I’ve become more detail oriented over this past year (something I really struggled with my first 3 yrs of med school… the devil is in the details. I tell ya. SMH). So I’m happy about that.

But yes, I do put orders in… and pend them. So that my resident can do them. But I like the fact that my resident seems to trust my clinical judgement, which is cool.

I need to work on my speed. I am sooooo slow lol. Tomorrow I’m going to work on speeding things up a lot. Not worried about my knowledge. I think its  pretty good. I’m surprised out how much I remember, given the fact that I’ve been gone so long. I’ve been reading from the ICU Book by Marino. The big one. Just a chapter a day. I like it. Its pretty clear and concise.

My only thing is that I don’t feel like my attending really likes me, but there’s not much I can do about it. I’m not the most chipper person. I’m not angry either LOL, but I do have problems communicating the fact that I actually want to be there to my attendings. Ppl think I’m bored a lot.

I don’t know what to really do about that. I’m totally involved in patient care, knowledgeable on my patients, and my notes are very good. I’m so tired of faking the BS, at this point in my life, I couldn’t fake enthusiasm if I tried. Plus I don’t think that I really act any different than anyone else… I just have a very serious face LOL. If I was blond and white, I think ppl would be a little more open to my personality set. But I’m not. I’m black and dark-skinned. And my default face is one of boredom. LOL, there is nothing I can do about that.

But. Yeah. Also… all these random e-mails. Ugh. I am so nervous about residency applications…. I’m more worried about my evals over my next couple of rotations. I had wanted to try to get a letter from my MICU attending. I think when the attendings switch over next wk… I’ll let the new one know that I am not bored… my default face just indicates such. Maybe that will help.

Called myself tryna work out. Nearly killed myself.

Seriously. I have chest pain. This ish is scary.

WTF was I thinking.

Hey! I’m back home… I’ve missed this city so much. Even all the weird and awkward ppl that walk around my campus.

This year I’m applying for residency. Ahhhh! Crazy right? I’m applying in Emergency Medicine and I think I’m gonna try to match in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic area. Part of me wants to just make the move down South or out West where its warm and sunny all the time, but I don’t have enough connects in those place. I would be happy and blissfully warm, but I would be lonely :(.

So… things I’m looking for in a program.

I want good, solid, broad clinical training. I want to see everything and wanna learn how to manage everything cuz being a excellent clinician is important to me.

I also want to be at an academic program b/c I want to have that option open to me when I’m done with residency. Even though private pays a heckuva a lot more money than academic (like a $100K difference), I like the balance and the intellectual challenge of academia.

I want to be in a urban medical center b/c I like urban health, I think its interesting. I’m also really interested in immigrant health, and it’ll be easier for me to get exposure to those sorts of issues in a urban area. I want to be in an area where I have friends and family to call on when I have a minute or a wknd off.

And I also want to be in a good area where I’ll have decent chance of getting married. Black women know what I’m talking about lol.

So… yeah, there’s what I’m looking for in a program. I’m excited about being an EM doctor, I think its one of the coolest fields out there, I think its very fulfilling, cuz you help a lot of ppl, from all walks of life. I like the pace of it, I like the fact that its a younger field, its a little more laid-back than the typical high-powered fields, so you don’t have to deal with as many egos. I like the way its structured, I feel like I’ll be able to use all parts of my brain and work with my hands. I live the variety of what you see, and the fact that the pay is pretty good.

I think its a great field for ppl who see themselves transitioning outside of medicine later on in life. I honestly don’t know if I want to do the doctor thing for the rest of my life. What else would I do? I dunno. There are so many options. I’m thinking about going back to writing. Maybe advocacy work… I dunno. I sent a couple of e-mails out to some non-profits in the area. I want to get back into volunteering no that I have the time. I’m interested in human rights stuff (yes, I’m a typical bleeding heart lol). But seriously, I’ve been reading more and more about how human trafficking is becoming a larger and larger issue in the US. So I would like to become more involved, so I’m going to start volunteering with one of the orgs in the area.

But yeah. That’s what going on with me. I might disappear again… I’m starting MICU in about a week, which I think will be cool? I dunno, you do a lot ICU stuff in EM residency so I thought I’d get an early look at it. Its an actual sub-internship, so I’m supposed to be involved in direct patient care… aka actually managing patients. Fun fun fun. Scary scary scary.

After that I have my EM rotation in Aug, which I’m extra excited about and then I might be traveling for a research project in early Sept, and then I will be doing my away somewhere across the country in Oct. It’ll be a busy next couple of months, but I’m looking forward to it.

I’ll keep you guys updated :-).

Hey!

Posted on: May 2, 2012

I’m not depressed anymore. Just busy. Will update when I’m done with finals.

You know… I thought that I would be the last person with mental health issues. I have great insight, I’m totally laid-back, a healthy self-image, all of that. But everyone reaches their limits.

Its been piling up. I have some stuff going on with the family, some stuff going on with the finances, school is as demanding as always, and now, I have to start preparing for residency application. After Match Day, after I congratulated my friends and celebrated their accomplishments, it kinda hit me. They’ve been stressed out for a year, and now… they’re not. They get a 3 month respite until the time comes for them to start their residency. I get nothing.

Nothing about my home life has changed or become less stressful, the only think I can look forward is a financial situation that’s even worse than the one I have now, after I finish this degree I’m going straight back to medical school with barely a break and on top of all the stressors I have going on now, I have to add on something else. Putting together a kick-ass app for residency.

I don’t know. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t imagine adding on anything else to my plate. So I shut down. Bit by bit, I’ve been shutting myself down, to the point that I was just numb. I couldn’t even get stressed out anymore, over the past 2 wks, its like my body had become completely desensitized.

Even so, I didn’t think that anything was *really* wrong with me. I thought I just needed a vacation, and then spring break came and I didn’t feel better. I saw my friends, and I didn’t feel better. The weather changed and my mood didn’t automatically lift the way it normally does. I just didn’t bounce back the way I normally do. I couldn’t get motivated, I couldn’t get excited, all I wanted to do is just lay in bed and continue to not feel.

But even so, I didn’t think that anything was wrong with me. I’ve accepted stress as a permanent component of my life. I’ve spent my life pushing past…. whatever. Be it fatigue, lack of sleep, financial difficulty, challenging workload, too many obligations, whatever it was, I sucked it up and I did it. And I thought that I could just suck it up and push past this slump, but I couldn’t. Its like my body was betraying me, my own mind had betrayed me.

And the funny thing is, nobody could even really tell that anything was wrong. I had everyone fooled. Even me. Looking back now, there were definitely signs. I stopped dressing up for school, stopped wearing makeup, stopped enjoying myself when I went out, I was handing things in late, avoiding my friends, laundry was piling up, I dunno it was just all bad.

I still don’t really know what’s wrong with me. It might be depression, it might be anxiety, it might be both. But don’t allow yourself to be fooled. Like one of my mentors told me, you don’t have to feel this way. And if it you manage it appropriately, its temporary. So tomorrow, I’m hitting up Student Health Services. I’m probably going to get put on medication. Which I *really* don’t like the thought of. But I want to get out of the slump, I want my life to improve, I want to get back to where I was.

So… I’ll let you know how everything goes.

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