A Couple Days in the Life

September 24, 2012

Due to increasing requests for what a clinicals schedule is like, I will take you through a normal couple days.  BUT before we get started, a few simple rules:

1) EVERY ROTATION is DIFFERENT!  I am lucky in that I am in a not-so-arduous rotation right now but other rotations, including other family medicine electives with different preceptors, can be much more hectic and demanding.

2) I am a night owl and keep odd hours

3) I do not currently have a car in Chicago, so much of my day is planned around when busses are least crowded and most accessible.

Mandatory clinic days for me during this rotation:

Monday 10:00, Wednesday 12:00, Friday 12:00, +/- Saturday 10:00

Sooo–here’s Monday-Tuesday:

08:00-09:00–Wake up, listen to music, brush teeth, wash face, put in contacts, curl hair, get dressed, put on makeup, have breakfast, pack bag.

09:00-09:40–Walk to busstop/Ride bus/Walk to MUA Rotation buddy’s apartment

09:30-09:50–Ride to hospital with MUA rotation friend in her car

10:00-~13:00–See patients in clinic/Present patients/Get grilled by doc

~13:00-14:00–Lunch with MUA rotation friend

14:00-16:00–Get dropped off at apartment then Nap.  Getting grilled is emotionally exhausting and I’m usually short on sleep.

17:00-21:00–Read/research topics covered in clinic/prepare presentations

21:00-22:00–Talk to friends/family on Skype


00:00-00:30–Cool down, stretch, finish drinking water so that 2L daily requirement met

00:30-01:30–Shower, dry hair, PJs, brush teeth, contacts out

01:30-02:30–Internet TV/fall asleep


10:00–10:15–Wake up, brush teeth, change into gym clothes


12:00-13:00–Shower, dry hair, put in contacts

13:00-13:30–Cook/eat lunch

13:30-14:00–Curl hair, put on make-up, put on casual clothes

14:00-17:00–Adventuring (faraway chores: Grocery/Post office/Target, etc.)

17:00-21:00–Read textbook

21:00-22:00–Skype friends/family

22:00-00:00–Laundry/Ironing, finish 2L daily water requirement

00:00-02:00–Internet TV/fall asleep

I know, it’s pretty cushy and a hell of a lot less stressful than basic sciences BUT you have to keep in mind, you have NO LECTURES to prepare you for Step 2 so I should probably be studying more than I am right now for those exams, it’s just that I haven’t done any major cores yet so I’m not so familiar with the material.  I still have probably another week or so worth of reading for Family Medicine to finish both of my textbooks, after which I will probably start in on the books for my next rotation (to get ahead), Psych.  Come to think of it, if you’re not strong with your basic sciences material, you’ll want to study more so that your preceptor doesn’t start making fun of you and giving you more scut work when you can’t answer their random questions at the drop of a hat.  I’m lucky in that I retained most of what I learned throughout basic sciences and know basics about many different subjects, but understand that your preceptor physician can and will quiz you on anything/everything he/she wants to–for example–on Friday in clinic, we were quizzed on how you would treat UTI, symptoms of UTI, differentiating UTI from STI, trade names and clinical names of antibiotics, which antibiotics you would give to a pregnant woman, symptoms of STI’s, differences in discharge between STI’s, how to treat Strep, how to treat Otitis Media, different infections for which you would prescribe azithromycin, how to write prescriptions, the age guidelines on HPV vaccines, rules for prescribing drugs to partners infected with STI’s, dosage guidelines in treating Chlamydia vs. Chlamydia + Gonorrhea, antibiotic resistance, why you would use levofloxacin over ciprofloxacin, what drugs to give patients with Sulfa allergies, etc.  Usually if you don’t know something, someone else in the group can discuss it or answer the question, but I hear in other rotations, if there is a foreign concept or if you’ve forgotten something from basic sciences, you have to research it and present it to the other students on a subsequent day.

To the kids in basic sciences, yes–it’s something to look forward to BUT don’t be heartbroken if you start out in a tough core or even a busy elective rotation that doesn’t have this schedule and doesn’t give you time off and time to study.  I can tell you the other kids doing family medicine elective rotation here who have the other attending routinely pull 12-14 hr. days, EVERYday with only weekends off.  Another thing to remember is that when you’re in a core rotation, you have required weekly assignments from the school as well as a patient log to maintain.  If you’re worried about workload when you’re just starting out, it might not be a bad idea to request starting out in an elective until you get your feet wet in the clinicals world as it is so different from the didactics of basic sciences.

Also different from basic sciences is that there is more planning required during these rotations, or at least it seems that way to me.  This is the first job for which I’ve been required to dress up on a regular basis–that means doing laundry at least every week and then ironing/steaming clothes so that they look presentable.  The days of being able to go 3 weeks without doing laundry and then just washing cottons and schlapping them up on the line to dry outside are gone.  Also, trips out must be planned.  I try to avoid going out on clinic days if I’ll be riding the bus because clinic is tiring and you must have your wits about you on the bus.  No cell phone out, no opening purse so you have to have your directions mapped out in your head, know exactly which busses you’re taking and which stops you’re supposed to get off at, and above all, you MUST BE BACK BEFORE SUNSET.  Then the actual process of getting where you need to go, depending how far away can take 1.5-2 hours worth of traveling–waiting on busses, walking, riding busses.  Also you must plan what you want to purchase and estimate if you’ll be able to carry it back with you on the bus without inconveniencing anyone or making yourself a larger target to be robbed.  Again, not like an hour’s trip to Gingerland grocery store where you just hop in your car and go.



September 21, 2012

So happy I’ve got another week under my  belt!

More clinic visits today, then a whole weekend off.  FINALLY started being a responsible student and have been reading [decent amounts of] my family medicine textbooks.  Can’t believe it but was able to pick up ID badge and drop off folder with employee health dept. on Wednesday; unbelievably happy at no longer being obligated to make trips over to the hospital for a while.

For those of you considering medical school, I wanted to take a minute to caution you on finances.  I know, historically, with undergrad and most US-based grad programs the hard part is getting in to the program you want, then financing is simply a matter of turning your rich uncle upside-down and shaking him for tuition or filling out a good ‘ole FAFSA form and getting low-interest student loans.  While they’re easier to get accepted into, the downside of the non-big-5 Caribbean schools is that they do NOT qualify for title IV US Educational Dept. loans.  This means that 1) none of the usual FAFSA lenders will give you loans and 2) if you have existing student loan debt, you must keep paying that debt off as you are not at a title IV-recognized school.  The option that most of them offer to US students is private lenders with high, variable interest rate loans that you must re-qualify for every semester and have near perfect credit to do so.  It sucks, yes, but it is a means to an end.  I cringe when I sign off on my loan every semester, but I haven’t really had that many problems with them so far.

That changed.

MUA is becoming a lucrative school on the young-Caribbean-medical schools front because it’s 14 years old, has produced a sizable number of graduates, and has a not-too-shabby residency-placement list that is published with each match that shows they’re doing something right.   I suppose that’s their rationale in consistently raising tuition.  The problem, however, is that for those of us on the private, variable-rate loans, the amount that we receive each semester hasn’t changed.  I don’t know how this fact is overlooked by the school and the powers at be, but it’s finally starting to have a serious effect on me.

Semester 1 tuition:  $9,740              Amount received back from loan:  $5,680

Semester 2 tuition: $9,120               Amount received back from loan: $5,155

Semester 3 tuition: $ 9,120              Amount received back from loan: $4,755

Semester 4 tuition: $9,870               Amount received back from loan: $4,305

Semester 5 tuition: $10,370             Amount received back from loan: $3,955

Semester 6 tuition: $11,745             Amount received back from loan: $2,130

Surprisingly, it’s easy enough to live on a tropical island and spend less than $1000 per month–rent wasn’t that expensive, there aren’t that many places to go out to dinner, nowhere to shop–the only expenditure that could really hurt sometimes was electricity.  So in the beginning, there was more than enough money to cover living expenses.  But now that I’m back in the states, am required to show up in business casual attire, RARELY get the opportunity to sign a year’s lease–usually it’s just for a few months so it comes at a premium rent, and ideally need to drive places, this is not an amount one can live on for an entire semester.

Since the school forbids us from having jobs while in school, we’re forced to look elsewhere for funds.  Canadian students have cushy loans, many students have parents who are docs, rich uncles.  But what about those of us who come from regular, blue-collar folks?  Yeah, it’s a problem.  When I got a bill from the school the other day for an additional $900 to cover the cost of my REQUIRED elective in family medicine, I flipped.  You just upped tuition by $1000 and now you want more?  I called the business office and the financial aid office at the school just to confirm that I was supposed to send them $900 NOW (oh no, it can’t wait) out of my $2130 SEMESTER’s living expenses, leaving me $1230 to live on until mid-January?!

I’m not quite sure what I am supposed to do.  I talked to my folks and they’ve agreed to help me out, but I don’t want to drain them for the next year and a half!  The financial aid office was clueless.  They wanted to transfer me back to the business office to shift the blame and “explain the charges” and then when I wouldn’t consent to that, had no advice for me except that they had applied for title IV loans but were still waiting.  No timeframe?  Nothing?  I’d heard of other students doing a joint MD-MBA program with Davenport University so that they could obtain title IV funding for their MBA tuition and then had some extra cash to live on during the semester but the lady in the financial aid office couldn’t even give me any information on that!  So wait, you know I’m drowning and you don’t even know where the nearest life-preserver is?  How can a school do this?  I’m flabbergasted.  What would I do if I didn’t have my folks?  What about my classmates who don’t have parents to fall back on?  I just don’t know.

So I sincerely advise you–sit down, look at your finances BEFORE you apply to these schools.  I’d say you’d need at least $20-25k put back into savings to help you along and supplement these loans to be financially stable because lord knows the school isn’t going to help you.


City Adventures

September 19, 2012

Whew is it Wednesday already?

Monday we FINALLY made it to the hospital for name badges and the drug screen.  As our previous meetings with the orientation department have gone, this one was chaotic as well.  I showed up 15 minutes early just in time to see the first group leaving and almost got lost trying to figure out where they went.  For some ill-conceived reason, they decided to shepherd us all into the front main lobby and then were absolutely bamboozled when we weren’t quiet after we’d been sitting there for over an hour.  Well, there are 50 of us students and they were taking 2 at a time.  No joke.  Sat there for almost 2 hours before I decided to be a selfish b___h and race up when “I need another male and a female” was called.

Once we got back to human resources, I figured out what the hold-up was; we sat in an office, were “witnessed” signing our drug screening consent forms, then got chewed out because we didn’t have copies of our drivers’ license in our folders.  The actual copying of our licenses took 30 seconds, but we needed a 10-minute lecture on how we were unprepared (in actuality, no one ever told us we needed a copy, just to bring them).  Next we were ushered to another room in HR where our pictures were taken.  Rather than reposition the camera, they decided to have everyone squat awkwardly so that our face would be centered in the picture.  We then had to sign a computer pad so that our signature would appear on our name badge.  While we were standing there, our badges printed out but we weren’t allowed to take them.

Our next stop was the hospital’s laboratory.  We arrived to find techs standing in the hallway rudely questioning students about their paperwork and why certain parts weren’t initialed–again, no instructions on when/how we were supposed to do this but we were certainly the ones in the wrong.  Then we were handed an open cup with a thermometer strip on the side, pointed around a corner and down a hallway, and told to bring the cup back filled past the line.  There was, however, no lid on the cup, so not wanting to splash anyone on the way back to the lab, I did my best to cover the sides and top with toilet paper.  The tech took the cup from me and was appalled; just imagine what it would have been like had I eaten asparagus…

With the drug test behind me, I could now attend to my missed calls/texts which happened, naturally, as I was in HR and couldn’t answer my phone.  One of the other students had told our preceptor about us having to show up to the hospital to be tested and instead of making us rush to the other hospital to catch the end of rounds at his office, he gave us the day off–AWESOME!  The other call was my ISP–they were at my building for the 8 millionth time to try to get my internet installed.  I was able to get in touch with the tech before he left, then called the office to let him into the building.  I felt relieved at the near miss, so I decided to stop at Starbucks and get the office-worker who had let the repairman in the building a treat.  About that time, fellow MUA rotation buddy called and wanted to know if I wanted to go to lunch.  Heck yea!

She swung by Starbucks, picked me up and we ran back to my apartment.  The previous week, we’d noticed that one of the kids in our rotation had this nifty folding clipboard that fit in the pocket of his white coat; he didn’t have to carry anything extraneous during patient visits–we had to have one, so I’d ordered us a couple and they had arrived.  She parked, we delivered the Starbucks goodies, graciously thanked the staff member, picked up the clipboards from the package room, then went upstairs to my apartment to drop off other perishables from Starbucks.  We open the door to find the ISP guy and the maintenance tech scratching their heads, staring at my modem.  Not wanting to stick around, the ISP guy said it couldn’t be fixed, that an “outside contractor” would have to come by, but that he’d be by today and I wouldn’t have to schedule a subsequent appointment.  Um, ok.  Even more skeptical at this point that I would get internet.  Oh well, who cares.  Put my stuff down and MUA rotation buddy and I were off to…India Town (!) for lunch.  Did I mention she has a convertible?

We went to a restaurant called Tiffin which had a yummy lunch buffet.  It was soooo tasty, especially compared to the place we went in Hyde Park for lunch the other day.  Didn’t really think about it then, but ate vegetarian–the yellow dal, aloo, bhindi, and paneer mutter were my favorites.  And it was my first naan since Indian Summer!  Then, of course, there was gulab jamun and rice pudding for desert.  I ate until I had to waddle out of there.  Since India Town was so far away and a treat, we decided to savor the afternoon and wander through the stores while we were there.

We headed back for the South side, but decided to stop at Sam’s Club and Walmart on the way to pick up a few essentials.  Low and behold, I got home to find the most beautiful row of green dots I’ve ever seen in my life–I HAD INTERNET!Alas, I was so tired from the whirlwind day, I took a shower and went straight to bed without savoring any net time.

During this rotation, we get Tuesdays off, so it was very nice to sleep in and recover yesterday.  My only chore was to go to the local post office (I knew we had passed one on the way home) and pick up a book of stamps.  After a trip to the gym, I looked up the post office on my phone and saw that it was only 0.6 miles away–shoot I could walk that!  Uh oh, I shouldn’t have walked that.  I was very fearful that I was going to get mugged during that walk.  It was not down a good street, and when I finally made it to the post office, like the Popeye’s by the hospital, the postal workers were sitting behind bullet-proof glass.  Oh dear.  I kept my head down, got my stamps, and walked back on the other side of the road, hoping that it would be better and would have less people loitering.  Less people, more run-down buildings.  I think I’ll get stamps somewhere else next time.

Feeling hungry, creeped out, but still not like cooking, I decided I had a hankering for Panera.  Once again, I got on my phone to see where the closest one was–8 MILES?!  Are you kidding?  Screw it.  Want Panera, have nothing else to do, so I started walking.  The trip started out with the same 0.6 mile Westward walk that I do to catch the bus to the hospital off of the closest main thoroughfare, except that this time I caught an “express” bus heading North, to the city.  How foreign and exciting!  45 minutes later, I was dropped off at the last stop, in a place that looked like it could be a New York City backdrop.Lots of buildings, people in suits, shops, cafes–it was AWESOME!  My phone told me to walk 0.6 miles in a Southwest direction and I came upon this mall-ish looking place.  There was a Marshall’s, a DSW shoes, a Whole Foods, and a PANERA!  How cool!  Was definitely not expecting a Whole Foods, so I went inside to stock up on some groceries.  (A good tip for people new to traveling on foot in a big city–get one of those cloth reusable shopping bags and stick it in your purse–it rolls up into nothing–you never know when you’ll need it but it comes in really handy when you do need it!)

Headed to Panera next and was reunited with a breadbowl of French onion soup.  Mmmm.  Given that it was a chilly day, it was PERFECT!  Savored the atmosphere then picked up a loaf of my favorite tomato basil bread and started walking back towards the cityscape.  0.6 miles North, I picked up another “express” bus that was headed back to my part of town.  It did get quite crowded, but dropped me off at the same spot, 0.6 miles from my apartment, that I started from.  At this point it was dark and I felt very uneasy about walking back to my apartment alone, but I kept to the residential streets and walked as quickly as possible.  I heaved a sign of relief when I got inside the gates of my building.  Yet another tiring day of travel to the city, but again, so much fun!  Can’t wait to go back!

Day Off

September 16, 2012

Happy Sunday!

Ok, still no internet.  I know, it’s crazy.  There is some connection that needs to be made between phone lines/cables in the basement of the building, which is accessible only by the maintenance staff who have not been available during my past two appointments.  Let’s hope tomorrow’s my lucky day and not Day 11 without internet.  That said, there is much more incentive to read (what I am supposed to be doing) since I’ve got no distractions.  Tomorrow is also, FINALLY, drug-screen and photo ID time at the hospital, barring any new codes/teacher strikes.

Had Saturday clinic which seemed to be the same as M-F clinic, except that everyone except the med students was dressed casually–in fact one of the office staff members asked the doc if he was going golfing based on how he was dressed.  (He was not.)  Only 3 of us students showed up (since it was an optional day) so our discussions about patient care and presentations seemed more intimate and we lad more time to critique and discuss.  I gave my first patient presentation (EVER–on a real patient) and while I’m pretty sure I was awful, had everyone (including the doc) tell me I did good.  He took away my notes before I started, so it was pretty disjointed but at least the first one’s behind me and I can only improve from here.

I was impressed–between me and my partner, we covered ALL bases as far as history questions and physical exam–there wasn’t any information the doctor or other student requested that we had missed.  That was a great feeling considering when I got in there, my mind went blank and my mouth went dry.  I have to figure out how to balance taking notes and asking questions.  I’d think of great questions, but then not have time to write down the responses without there being long pauses.  I suppose the solution is to remember as much of the history as you can and then run outside and write your note, but I wasn’t sure how much time I’d have before I needed to present and didn’t want to keep the doc and other students waiting.  If anyone has pointers, please let me know.  Always looking to improve.

On the home front, I’m discovering that dieting is going to be difficult.  In contrast to living at my folks’ place, here, I don’t have the energy to stop and cook like I did.  When I have cold pizza or Chinese in my fridge, life is so much easier when tasked only with reheating.  I know, I know–if I planned ahead and did my cooking on the weekends, I could reheat diet food just as easily but what about weeks like this one where I only get ONE day off at a time?  Eating carbs doesn’t seem like a good idea if I want to keep losing weight quickly as I did over the summer, but I noticed when I stepped on the scales this morning, instead of the 5 pounds I was expecting to have gained from a week of non-diet food, I had…lost 2?!  I realized that I have been walking quite a bit, getting between hospitals and apartment and that the miniscule blocks to/from bus stops add up quickly.  (Google maps tells me that in getting from my apartment to clinic yesterday, I walked 1.9 miles round trip!) On top of that, I’m still making myself workout at least 30 minutes each night, so perhaps if I can be okay with losing weight at half the pace I was at home, I can still eat carbs and consequently not be zapped of energy during hospital/clinic days, worry less about having low-carb stuff ready to eat without an hour’s cooking commitment, and be a less-grumpy person since we all know everyone’s much more pleasant with carbs in their life.

Day 3: Clinicals

September 12, 2012

Today was the big day.  Like for reals.  Today was the first day seeing patients.

I was SOOOO nervous.

Woke up to texts from all rotation friends who were due at the hospital today, stating that they’d called the operator at the hospital and today was again a code yellow day.  Ok, another day without badges or drug tests.  Becoming routine now.  BUT was still scheduled for an office day at my off-site family medicine clinic.  Not sure what would be expected of me so continued reading in my family medicine textbook and reviewing key elements of SOAP notes and H&P’s.  This made me more nervous.  Got a ride to the clinic with fellow MUA student also in rotation; arrived 10 minutes early and no one was there.  3 of the other 4 students came in ten minutes late.  Doctor came in fifteen minutes late, along with patient.  One of the office assistants came out and asked which one of us wanted to “take the patient” (do an H&P alone) and fellow MUA student volunteered.  Turns out, meanwhile, that the 6th student had gotten there really early and had been in an exam room all along, examining another patient.  He came out and presented his patient while MUA student was doing H&P.  Doc listened to presentation, allowed us to ask the presenting student questions, then asked us what our plan was.  We suggested tests and labs, the doctor agreed, added a couple, then asked who wanted to practice bloodwork.  One of the other students in our rotation was a phlebotomy teacher, so he collected the bloodwork while giving those of us who were less familiar with the procedure a tutorial.  Then we centrifuged the blood and wrote out the lab orders.

By this time, fellow MUA student was ready to present on her patient.  She came out and presented as the previous student had done, we discussed, agreed on tests to order and follow-up, and then another of the students unfamiliar with phlebotomy got a chance to try her hand at an antecubital stick!

With no more patients on the schedule, we were allowed to leave.

I felt INCREDIBLY relieved and silly for feeling so nervous.  The whole atmosphere was completely chill–there wasn’t someone hovering over the students, grading them while they completed their assessments.  Minor missteps were made but no one was criticized and we were all encouraged to answer questions collectively and propose solutions and suggestions.  It’s cliche, but it was like the round-table discussions on House–really collaborative.  I had heard that on other rotations, students were sent into exam rooms in pairs then residents were sent in after them to re-do the exam and draw their own conclusions, but this doctor trusts us.  I felt really empowered, like I was miles away from PD and ICM–these were real paying patients and the doctor was trusting our assessments and legitimately taking our suggestions into consideration! AND we’re even encouraged to volunteer to try new procedures!  It made me feel so grown up!

I left feeling exhausted from all the worrying, but giddy with excitement at the thought of not  dreading my rotation.  Fellow MUA student offered to give me a ride home but instead of going home, we ended up going to check out the University of Chicago’s bookstore for some supplies.  On the way back to the car, we got a chance to listen to a guy talking about the history of circumcisions at the University of Chicago Hospitals.  Eye-opening.  Didn’t know fellow MUA student had such strong feelings on them.Then we decided to go to have some Indian food–a first since leaving the island for both of us.  It was okay, but not Indian Summer.  Then we decided to go to Target and wander around for a bit.  Did you know they have Halloween stuff?Got back home in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset over South Chicago.

Code Yellow

September 11, 2012

No, this has nothing to do with urine.

I would have called this post Clinicals: Day 2, except that instead of a teachers’ strike today, there was something else that threw our scheduled activities into complete chaos.  We show up for formal hospital orientation, dressed up with white coats again so that we can have our photo ID’s done today, along with the drug testing.  Not unlike yesterday, we showed up for our 9:00 meetings early (at 8:40) and were left standing in the hall until 9:15.  Just as we’re filing into the conference room and getting settled, we hear “Attention all hospital staff: Code Yellow.”  The person who has unlocked the door immediately walks over to the house phone and starts talking hurriedly to someone.  We’re all pretty confused.  She leaves the room and we sit there for about 20 minutes, remarking on the odd coincidental timing of the code yellow and it being 9/11.  Next, one of the coordinators comes in and explains to us what is going on.  Turns out a Code Yellow is an overhead announcement which means that an investigative body is on the premises.  Because they are allowed to question anyone associated with the hospital and we have not been trained as the full-time employees are, they don’t want to risk an inspector asking us a question we wouldn’t possibly know the answer to, so their solution is to clear all medical students from the building.  That’s what code Yellow means–medical students get out.  So he then tells us that he has to go clear out all the medical students and disappears for 20 more minutes.  It’s during this time that I came to the revelation that all medical students have an iPhone.  So then the coordinator comes back, tells us that we won’t be doing ID’s or drug screens today because we can’t be in the building.  Hmm.  Ok.  BUT that we can be in the current building because it’s off limits to the inspectors, so he will do a modified orientation for us where he recites all the parts of the administrators who can’t be there.  Actually he did a pretty good job keeping our attention–had us introduce ourselves, told funny jokes.  We did get to see a couple of the people on the schedule who weren’t needed by the inspectors.  He let us out for lunch but forbade us from going to the cafeteria, so we went to surrounding restaurants.

As it was my first time traveling on foot outside of the hospital after 10am, I was amazed at the traffic.  People hanging around, begging; it was truly unsettling. We’d just been given a lecture on how we shouldn’t have our white coats out in public, should walk in groups, and shouldn’t wear our stethoscopes in public either, that it made us targets.  A friend and I went to the local Popeye’s (recommended by the chaplain) and I got to experience my first restaurant trip from behind a bullet-proof window.We met back an hour later to finish orientation and tried to figure out what the plan was for the next day.  Another coordinator had told us earlier to come back at 9:00 the next morning to try again for badges and drug test, but then not to come back if the code yellow was still in effect.  We were told they could last as long as 5 days, that we should call the hospital operator to see if it was still in effect before we left for the hospital the next morning.  The caveat to code yellow is, however, that it does not apply to students in off-site rotations, so unless your rotation physically takes place in the hospital buildings, you are still expected to show up to start rotations tomorrow.  My comrades in off-site rotations realized that we couldn’t show up to both places at once tomorrow, so we decided to call and let our preceptor know that we would be late because we were trying to go to get drug screens and ID’s for a third day.  It gets better.

I get home, take a nap and am getting ready to cook dinner and study when I get a text from one of my rotation-mates wanting to make travel plans tomorrow.  She offered to pick me up at 11:35 and I was very confused why we would meet then when we were supposed to meet up at the hospital at 9.  She had gotten an email from our coordinator that the Code Yellow would still be in effect tomorrow, not to go to the hospital but to continue on to regular off-site rotations (which start at 12:00 at the other hospital, for our rotation) and just wear our ID tags from our respective schools.  No one else in the rotation got this email.  I asked friends in other rotations about it and they said that some had received that email, but that others had received emails from their preceptors stating that the code yellow had been lifted and that they would be expected at the hospital tomorrow.  ???  AAH!  This disorganization thing is not good for us type A’s.  SO, the general consensus is to call the operator tomorrow–if the code is in effect, don’t go to the hospital but go on to rotations at the other hospital; if the code is cleared, to meet at the hospital at 9:00 as planned and hope that the third day is the charm and we can quit doing our hair and spending SOOO much time on makeup each day for our ID photos.  I suppose the moral of the story is to always be flexible during rotations.

Oh–by the way–still no internet.  Didn’t work yesterday, called and had an appointment window from 5-9 today–no one showed up.  Called again, have an appointment for Thursday from 8-12.  Told them that if no one showed up this time, I was cancelling and going with another provider.

Clinicals: Day 1

September 10, 2012


Interesting day.  Everyone wants to know what clinicals are like so I did my best to take pictures and remember the details.  One thing to keep in mind is that our orientation was thrown off because of a massive teachers’ strike that went on today in Chicago; most of the people who work in the clinicals education part of the hospital have children and were very concerned about where their kids would go today since the schools were closed on such short notice.  That said, it was pretty disorganized.  I KNOW we weren’t the first bunch of kids they’ve had.

Ok, so we got emails that we were supposed to show up, dressed up with stethoscope and white coat in tow to the “New Vision Center” at the hospital at 9am.  I wanted to be early so I showed up at 8am.  I went to the front desk, signed in to get a visitor’s badge (which is apparently VERY important), but then the front desk person did not know where I was supposed to go.  She said a bunch of medical students were waiting in the lounge behind her but none were there.  Really?  You have students all the time.  She sent me back outside, to walk to the opposite end of the hospital to the family medicine center.  Locked.  Hmm.  Ran into another student and we walked to the ER together to find out where we were supposed to go.  Didn’t make any headway there, so I called a friend who I knew was also starting the rotation today.  He got there super early (at 6:30) and was waiting in a place on the third floor.  Not wanting to inconvenience the fine people of the hospital for directions any more than I had to [and because it was proving so successful], I took the elevators to the third floor and wandered around until I saw white coats.
What I found was a line of kids waiting at the clinical education office of the OTHER main coordinator, not my coordinator, but hey, at least this was a start.  I waited in line with my friend until we heard someone else further up in the line talk to the coordinator–he told him his situation which was similar to ours (that he had the OTHER coordinator and was supposed to meet in the New Vision Center?) and we heard directions.  FINALLY!  Someone who knows what’s going on.  So my friend and I walked down to the New Vision Center.  Turns out it’s across from the ER, down an alley.  Totally would have found that on my own….NOT.  Zero signage.

We walk into the New Vision Center and are shepherded to a classroom by other students who are hanging around.  It’s like 8:40 by this point so I’m nervous about time–they show us this thick application that we should start filling out.  Slowly the classroom fills up and we see more people from our school in addition to people from other schools, some that have done rotations before (just not at our hospital) and some, like us, who are fresh meat.

At 9:20, a guy comes in and starts calling out names he has scrawled onto folders.  He sticks his head out the door to repeat the names because, come to find out, the classroom has overflowed into the hall.  Oh my.  The first few names he can’t pronounce (that’s ok, we know that Caribbean students are a diverse bunch) and coincidentally, were of people not there yet, so he gets frustrated.  He calls in an assistant, hands half the folders to her, and she takes her folders out into the hall to call out names.  Can’t hear her.  Great.  20 minutes later, he’s called out all the names in the classroom, I still have no folder, so I go out in the hall to see if my folder is out there.  Of course it is.  Inside the folder is all of our paperwork from the school in addition to our schedules–yay!–I can plan my year now!  The guy passes out drug screen forms, then takes a group of us to pay the cashier.  It’s a lady sitting behind a bullet-proof window, writing out receipts on a metal stand with pre-printed paper forms from the 80s.  We have to pay $20 for our drug screen but they can’t do the drug screens today so we have to hang on to our receipts.  They won’t make our ID badges until we pass the drug screen, so we’re told we have to come back tomorrow morning to have our drug screens and get our ID’s made.  Right–so why are we here?

We stand around for a bit while another group of students comes in to pay for their drug screens; I used this time to collect contact information of my fellow MUA students and to find out what rotations we have together.  At 11:00, we’re taken back to the New Vision Center where there are even more students lined up in the hall who have not received folders yet.  We’re left to sit there for about 30 minutes, then handed out schedules for ORIENTATION tomorrow.  Starting at 9am again.  Great.  Then split into groups based on who our preceptors are.  Groups slowly disappear.  In my group, there are 3 people new to the hospital–we all manage to meet up with each other while we’re waiting in the room.  The folder guy from before comes in and asks for the kids with my preceptor.  The three of us stand up and he leads us out into the crowded hallway.  He explains that our preceptor is at another hospital. (?!)  He gives us the address to the hospital and tells us that we need to go meet our preceptor and have him sign a form, which we’re handed.  He takes back our folders (glad I took a picture of my schedule), and we’re sent off on our way.

Thankfully the other 2 people had cars, so we all got together and rode to the hospital to try and find out where we were supposed to be and how to meet our doctor.  The other hospital is about 20 blocks away and looks really nice from the road.  We had trouble parking, but finally found a spot.  We walked to the hospital and were amazed–it was a modern, updated hospital with very courteous staff.  They directed us toward the medical office building and told us which suite to go meet our preceptor at.  We made it upstairs and slowly more students started arriving.

There ended up being 6 students in our rotation; 2 of us from MUA, the other fella who drove us was from AUA in addition to the senior student (a 4th year who was finishing up his electives), a girl from SJU, and a guy from AGU.  We waited about 20 minutes then met our attending–a nice fella who was a bit intimidating.  He gave us our schedule–Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (with an occasional Saturday) and he told us that he’d see us on Wednesday and that we would hopefully be up on our H&P skills.  He added that we’d get to practice bloodwork, pap smears, and giving shots.  Cool.

With the rest of the day off, four of us decided to go have lunch together and get more acquainted since we’ll be working together for the next 6 weeks.  We stopped on the way back to the hospital at a nice little row of storefronts–ended up getting pretty tasty pizza at a little restaurant.  The non-MUAers, we found out, had both done rotations before including at least one core.  They were able to give us tips for studying and had some great advice about rotations.

I got a ride home from the AUA fella and took a nap.  Time to review, like it’s my job, and make up study materials that I can look over tomorrow during orientation.  On an exciting note, I’m supposed to have internet installed tonight; given that I’m sitting down in the wi-fi lounge surrounded by screaming children and singing women watching step contests on youtube, that’s REALLY exciting.  😉

The Move

September 9, 2012

Whew, busy week.

So we looked at apartments Monday and Tuesday–were very surprised at the condition of the housing in some parts of the city.  Quickly decided that I wanted to be in either the Hyde Park or South Shore area as they were pretty, safe and relatively close to the hospital (my guideline was within 30 minutes via public transportation).  Decided on a place Tuesday afternoon and signed the lease ASAP so that we could start moving…on Friday.  Wednesday and Thursday were spent shopping for furnishings and then renting a van to take all the stuff down to the city.  Friday morning we moved…in 3 short hours (!) then spent the rest of the night–until 2am–putting together furniture.  After some necessary returns and exchanges Saturday morning, we had lunch and then Mom and Dad headed back to NC so that they’d have some time to recover before the work week starts.

Alas, internet is not scheduled to be connected until some time tomorrow evening, so I’ve been unpacking, arranging, listening to old PD videos (to refresh my exam skills), and then taking a trip down to the wi-fi lounge in the evenings to reconnect with the world outside my apartment.  Decided to try out the bus system today and took a trip to Target.  Little scary, but it’ll have to do.  Definitely not going out at night.  Starting to get nervous about day 1 of clinicals tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Welcome to the Windy City

September 3, 2012

Okay, so we drove up to Chicago yesterday.  What a day.  We left at 1:30 in the morning; I drove the first 6 hours through NC, TN, and KY, then my folks took over and drove the last 6 hours through Indiana up to IL while I drifted in and out of sleep.  We arrived sooner than expected but decided to stop in at the hospital, since that’s where I’ll be spending most of my time.  Luckily a classmate of mine is there completing rotations currently and was able to meet us.  He took me on a brief tour of the hospital and I was surprised.  It seems like it is lost in time, like someone plucked it out of the late 60s/early 70s and froze it.  There are parts of it that were new, but overall I was amazed.  I think I would like to study it more than work there, but I suppose I’ll be able to make it work.

We were able to check into our hotel early.  We’re staying up by O’Hare in the Northern part of the city, however our apartment search takes place in the South side of the city, approximately a 40-minute drive away.  We decided to use the extra time to drive back down to the South side and look at the apartments we’re scheduled to tour.  What an eye-opener!  We immediately decided that a couple of apartments we were interested in which were close to the hospital should be struck from our list.  The neighborhood around the hospital was unsettling in the daylight; many people loitering around.  We tried to think of all possible ways that I would be able to get to the hospital safely but were unable to come up with a solution, even if I kept a car up here.  Parking isn’t a problem at the hospital but the traffic and aggressive drivers were a huge turn-off.

Feeling a bit crestfallen, we kept driving around to look at other apartments and were pleasantly surprised when we got to the lakeside areas we had been contemplating.  The atmosphere is completely different–the lake looks almost beachy, is a beautiful blue-green color, and there are massive parks and greenspaces around it.  We continued North to the Hyde Park area of the city and it only got better from there–picturesque tree-lined streets with majestic, ancient-looking apartment buildings.  Can’t wait to go touring up there, would love to live there but am apprehensive about the commute down to the hospital.

Ended up coming back to the hotel, walking down to the local pub for dinner.  We were all exhausted and hadn’t eaten since breakfast in KY.  Had some beers, french onion soup and salads before coming back to bed early.  Not surprisingly, Mom and I woke up early this morning and tried to condense and simplify our apartment lists based on what we’d seen yesterday.  There were a few places we saw from the road and were interested in adding to our search, but the continual theme seems to be that the nice buildings with curb-appeal are usually condo-buildings.  Bummer.