Mid-Surgery Update

April 18, 2013

Hello, Readers!

Nice to talk to you again, have missed you. Unfortunately I’m updating from my couch–home sick today with a cold, but it couldn’t have happened on a better day. The wintery snow of Chicago is gone but has been replaced with cold, unrelenting rain and as of late, thunder and lightening. Yes, glad to be inside today.

I’ve held off on writing because I haven’t had a lot of positive things to say. I try to present my view of the happenings of medical school as an IMG, both the good and the bad. Lately I’ve been very frustrated and don’t want to come off as a ‘Negative Nancy.’ Don’t get me wrong–rotation’s going fine. Absolutely love the Doc I’m with for surgery–but it’s the other stuff, the administrational stuff that I usually write about that’s got me down.

So my first core rotation was psychiatry last fall. Fell in love with it. Thinking of going into it. Big deal. Finished at the end of NOVEMBER of last year. I still have no grade for this course. I know, 4.5 MONTHS. Ridiculous. I’ve asked TWICE about this and have been told to be patient, the grades were still being processed. Do you think if I was 4.5 months late on my tuition that I could tell the school to be patient? (A rhetorical question.) I got my shelf score back within 3 weeks (this accounts for 40% of final grade), and I completed all my homework on time (10%) as well as my patient logs (10%), but the missing 40% of my grade is from my Attending’s evaluation of me. If, for some reason, the school hadn’t received my eval, that’s fine. Accidents happen. But it would have been nice to know sooner rather than later (like Decemberish) so I could go back before my attending had 120 more students and got him to fill out another eval. But I’m told to be patient, that surely they must have it somewhere. Argh. I’m doing my best, but 4.5 months is really starting to stretch my patience.

In addition to my angst over my psych grade, I JUST NOW received my IM shelf grade. IM ended in FEBRUARY! The school gets the grades within days of test completion. What could possibly take 6 weeks? I know, I’m sounding like a Diva, but what “getting my grade” entails is the school posting a link to a pdf of the NBME-generated document that they receive with my score report on it. That’s it. No manipulation needed. It takes 6 weeks to scan 2 pieces of paper? Really? REALLY?

Ok, negativity over. Just needed to get that off my chest.

So, still happy about the strenuousness of IM being over–did great on the shelf. Loving surgery. Makes me wish I was competitive for orthopedic surgery but alas I’m not a strapping, built 20-something male US-medical student with a 275 on my Step I. Got to assist on lots of general surgeries–LOVE the whole fascinating ritualistic process of “changing into OR attire,” scrubbing in, retracting, suturing, stapling, and then being grilled on the spot. Very exhilarating. Time stands still. Looked up the other day and realized I had been standing there retracting for 3 hours–felt like 20 minutes–but how could you not get hypnotized when you’re standing right next to the surgeon and have a bird’s eye view of everything he sees and every move he makes. Got home late one evening and noticed when I stood up that I felt a bit light-headed. Thought about it for a minute and realized I’d had nothing to eat or drink the entire day. Just back-to-back procedures. It was magical. As you would imagine, it takes something pretty interesting to keep the dieting fat kid from noticing she’s hungry.

Have gained a new respect for surgical techs. Because the Doc I work with has been practicing for decades, we get to hear a detailed history on the evolution of most things we do in the OR. Apparently, the old-school surgeons did not like talking in the OR. Doc was telling us that when he first started, he had to signal using hand-signs to his scrub tech, which instruments he wanted during a procedure; that scrub techs and surgeons became so intimately intertwined that surgeons would travel from hospital to hospital with their own personal scrub tech because no one else knew them so well. Doc’s scrub tech is always a step ahead of him–knows when he’ll need a clamp or retraction without Doc even asking for it. It’s amazing to watch.

So yeah, kind of in love with surgery. 6 weeks left.

Received an email that I should be preparing my documents for the 2014 match application. Eep. That time already? There is much to be done–CV-updating, LOR collection, personal statement drafting and revision. Have started shopping around for residency programs and electives. Had my heart broken with the discovery that a couple of the locations in North Carolina that I was looking forward to spending some time at have STOPPED accepting IMGs for electives! NOOOOOOOOO! It’s true. Even though I want to practice in Appalachia, I’m going to have to travel to the other side of the US to complete my electives. It’s such a shame.

Alright, will try to be in touch before the end of surgery and NOT on a sick day. OB is next, followed by peds. Yippee!