Adventures in Medicine

Medical School and Beyond!

Free Money

One thing is no secret…medical care is not cheap and neither is the cost to become a physician.  In fact, the average medical student graduates with loans equal to a mortgage.  Unfortunately, the rigors of medical school makes it almost impossible for the majority of students to have a job therefore all their living costs are covered by loans.

As such as a medical student it is advantageous to find ways to be very frugal with money.

Study Material Discounts:

  1. Becker’s Free Webinars:  These webinars are live online lectures offered each month that are free for all medical students and cover topics including USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2, and residency applications and interviews.  All you have to do is register and you will get a link to join the webinar.  The website is updated each month with that particular month’s free webinar’s.
  2. Also AMSA members get a discount on Becker’s review courses.  I will be using this course of Step 2 CK prep.

Free Money and Savings Apps:

  1. Shopkick:  This app gives you “kicks” for opening the app when you walk into stores, “kicks” for scanning the UPC codes of certain products when in the stores, “kicks” for connecting your credit card to your account,  “kicks” for using your credit card at certain stores, and “kicks” for purchasing certain items.  These kicks can be redeemed for e-gift cards to several stores.  Use code battery41750 to get 50 free kicks with signing up.
  2. Ibotta:  This is an app that gives you cash back on purchasing certain items at certain stores by taking a photo of your receipt after you make the purchase.  Sign up with referral code nej4g to get $10 additional after you redeem your first rebate.
  3. Checkout 51:  Like Ibotta this app gives you cash back on purchases.  There is also an option to enter to win $500 dollars with every grocery trip that is $60 or more.
  4. Receipt Hog:  Use this app to take pictures of your receipts and get coins that you redeem for either amazon e-gift cards or paypal money.  Each receipt also gets you an entry into the months sweepstakes for getting bonus coins.
  5. Receipt Pal:  Another app like Receipt Hog but there are more reward options.  There is also a $250 sweepstakes each month and each box filled is one entry.
  6. Yaarlo:  Yet another app to take pictures of your receipts to get cash back.  You can also shop online and get cash back for those purchases too.  Don’t forget to get your receipts for gas and snap a picture of them and your restaurant receipts.  Use referral code KIMBER392 to get an extra $1.00 when you sign up and submit your first receipt.
  7. Mobee:  This app has “missions” (surveys) at different stores that include taking pictures and taking about help you get from associates and upon completion you get points to be turned in for gift cards.  Use referral code 18TN to get bonus points at sign up.

Free Food Apps:

  1. McDonals:  Their app has several coupons and McCafe reward card.
  2. Krispy Kreme:  When you sign up for their rewards program via their app you get a free donut.  With each purchase you get points which you can redeem for free drink and donuts.
  3. Firehouse Subs:  Sign up in their app and then use your phone number at checkout to get reward points for for free subs and salads.  Also you will get a free sub on your birthday.
  4. Chick-Fil-A:  Free sandwich when you download their app and sign up.
  5. Tropical Smoothie Cafe:  Free smoothie with app download and sign up.  Use referral code EMHJFIZSNTAL to get an additional $5 at sign up.
  6.  Moe’s Southwest Grill:  Sign up with the app to get a free burrito.  Use code KimberJ2919 when you sign up to get 50 bonus points and closer to your $10 reward at 1000 points.  You will also get a free burrito for your birthday.
  7. Honey Baked Ham:  Sign up in the app and get a free sandwich
  8. Don’t forget about all the other birthday freebies.  100 Freebies   59 Freebies   Birthday Freebies

 

I hope you can earn some free money too!

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Kids, Kids, and More Kids :)

For the first 4 weeks of November I was in a rotation in Augusta called Childhood & Adolescent Medicine which is basically a glorified way to say pediatrics.  Right off the bat I knew it was going to be a great rotation.  While I enjoyed my pediatric rotation in Atlanta I did not feel that it was the best exposure or learning experience.  In fact, my first week in C&A Medicine I saw just as many (if not more) patients as I saw the entire 6 weeks of my pediatrics rotation.

Through the 4 weeks I learned a lot about the field of pediatrics; which will come in handy one day.  The procedure/test I got the most experience on was the rapid strep test swab.  I also learned how to tell what the current virus is and how best to explain it to parents who continue to flow through the office and call in with similar symptoms.  Let me tell you there has been a lot of different viruses going around this season.

Upon the completion of Childhood & Adolescent Medicine I switched to Allergy & Immunology.  This was a unique rotation in that the doctor works closely with her husband who is a pulmonology and sleep medicine physician.  This meant I got exposure to allergy, asthma, pulmonology (mainly COPD), and sleep patients who were getting tested or treated for obstructive sleep apnea.

Over these 8 weeks I was able to learn a lot about a broad variety of medical specialities.  One of the most helpful things I learned in Allergy and Immunology was how to identify possible triggers for asthma depending on when the patients present.  I also learned important questions to ask for patients presenting with increased daytime sleepiness which was not something I had been exposed to in the past (which proved helpful in a future exam).

These rotations took me up to Christmas at which point I went home for the holiday weekend with my boyfriend and got to celebrate with my family.  This was a very special time for me because I have spent a few holiday’s with his family but this was the first he spent with mine and over the past couple years has been the only holiday I have been able to spend at home.

Most recently on January 9, 2017 I started a 6 week rotation in OB Ultrasound & Genetics where my preceptor is a Maternal and Fetal Medicine doctor and therefore sees high risk patients.  For the first 2 weeks I would follow new patients through the practice.  This means I go with them to the genetic counselors officer then ultrasound and finally in with the doctor.  When there are no new patients I just follow a patient into ultrasound and then the doctors office and type up the progress note in the patients chart.

In the 2 weeks I have been in this rotation I have already seen somethings I did not see when I was in my OB/GYN core rotation.  I got to assist in an amniocentesis, learn there is such a thing as trisomy 16 that can result in a live born infant and have been involved in the care of a patient who is in her third trimester with such a baby, saw a patient who was exposed to Parvovirus B19 while pregnant and learned how to work her up.  Finally my first week I watched a c-section  that was quite sad as the baby did not make it.  He fought for an hour but sadly passed away in his mama’s arms with family all around as his lungs did not develop properly. 😦

The aspect that I really like about this rotation is that her office is in the hospital so when we have to round on the patients in the hospital no travel is required which is also very convenient for consults.

In addition to being in the middle of my second to last clinical rotation this past week I took one of my Step 2 Board Exams.  The particular exam I took is known as CS (clinical skills) and requires my getting a history, performing an exam, and writing up a patient note with diagnostic tests for 12 patients.  Unfortunately, I have to wait 2 months to find out if I passed or not.  I also have my next exam CK (clinical knowledge) which is a computer based multiple choice exam scheduled for 3/22/17 (right before I move to AZ for my final rotation).

 

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Return to Augusta

Since my last post I have finished up my time in ATL, went back home to Chicago for a 4 week elective rotation, and returned back to Augusta, GA.  My last 4 weeks in ATL and my time in Chicago were interesting…but still educational.  Before I get into the details about what I have been doing in rotations let talk about my progress with school.

While in Atlanta I completed the remainder of my core rotations which are those rotations required of every medical student (Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Family Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry).  The last core I completed was psych (which was the rotation I dreaded the most going into but actually found myself liking aspects of it (it did help that the schedule was pretty lite).  With the completion of my cores means I also have the NBME exams behind me.  These exams were required by my school within 2 weeks of completing a core rotation to ensure we, as the students, are learning what is essential for the rotation.

While core rotations are the same for every medical student the elective rotations are not the same but rather are selected by the student.  So far I have completed electives in Neonatology, Cardiology, and Dermatology.  I am currently in Childhood and Adolescent Medicine and am scheduled to complete a rotation in Allergy & Immunology as well as Integrative Medicine.  Besides these electives I already completed and have scheduled I am currently in the process of scheduling my last elective.  Speaking of scheduling elective rotations it is no easy feat.  The benefit of core rotations with my school is they have to be at affiliated hospitals so the clinical department team tells me, as the student, where openings are available.  But for electives that is the not case as the hospitals do not need to be affiliated so the options are much more numerous and I must talk with both the hospital representative and my school to set up a rotation and then get the two parties in communication with each other.  This is even more difficult because some hospitals have application deadlines in the beginning of the year and the student might not be eligible to apply for electives at that time.

Having completed 9 rotations at the present time I can honestly say that I have something from each of my preceptors (yes, even when I was not my preceptors biggest fan). When I say that each rotation is not going to be glorious I think I can speak for every current and past medical student.  We expect things to be rough and exhausting.  We expect to be put on the spot.  We expect to be stretched.  We expect to be treated as the low man on the totem pole and do the dirty tasks for our attending’s.  We do NOT expect to work the reception desk.  We do NOT expect to be considered free employees.  We do NOT expect to get gun threats.  We do NOT expect to be the one’s to close a practice at night after the physicians and employees have left.  But still when things we do not expect come our way we try our best to learn from it, maybe we won’t put our future students in the same situations, and move one.

My dermatology attending was great with her patients.  She remembers most of her patients by name.  She takes her time with each patient and teaches them about their skin, their conditions, and how to check their skin for possible cancers most importantly melanoma.   While this was only a 4 week and I could not wait to be done (a move back closer to someone special) I did learn a lot about skin conditions in that time.  I feel that I am slightly more confident is identifying skin lesions.  Including the skin condition known as Hailey-Hailey Disease which I never heard of before I completed this rotation.  Even if I would have learned was about this one disease I would have still considered it a successful rotation.

After I completed my final shift in dermatology my mom and I hit the road to travel back to Augusta (with a stop in Greenville, SC).  Once in Augusta we moved into my cute little cottage.  The main house (where my landlord and other tenants live) was once a plantation house.  This cottage I rent is all-inclusive (including premium movie channels and the freedom to purchase PPV) and very cozy.  It has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom and has plenty of space.  I even have a small front porch with 2 chairs and a little table which overlook the  yard and trees.  A perfect place to sit and enjoy the nice weather.

I have been in Childhood & Adolescent Medicine (basically another name for pediatrics) for 1 week now.  I am loving this rotation (which is good since I am working on becoming a pediatrician myself).  I feel that this is a great rotation for me as my preceptor is the Chief of Pediatrics at the hospital and in the week I have been here I have seen almost the same amount of patients I saw during my 6 week pediatric core rotations and have seen some inpatient care so it is not all outpatient clinic patients.

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Hope and Power in Blood

Back in High School I had the privilege of shadowing a physicians assistant who worked in a local ER on two different occasions.  When I walked into my first shadowing event I was immediately taken into a patient room where the patient had cut his leg open with a jig saw and the inside of his leg was open for all to see his muscle, bone, blood vessels, and nerves.  I was kindly brought a chair to sit down so I would not pass out.  What the nurse was not aware of was how strong of a stomach I have.  I did not need that chair at all.  Rather I was enjoying watching the doctors and the physician assistant work and eventually page down the plastic surgeon.  The surgeon was able to sew up the patients leg but left small open spaces with prim rose tubing to allow the wound to drain to avoid infection and blood collection (as I came to learn drains are commonly left in after certain surgeries).

But time to get back to blood…Many people get queasy at the sight of blood a feature not conducive for someone who wants a career as a doctor.  In fact, I have always been intrigued by the sight of blood, guts, and gore on TV (even when my parents would turn away in disgust).  Fast forward 8 or so years and here I am in my 4th year of Medical School (yes that mean just over 9 months until graduation) with almost 7 rotations completed I have dealt with a lot of blood.  Spend a few minutes in an ER or OR and you will likely be inundated with blood.  🙂

Wether you can handle blood or not one thing is the same…when someone is bleeding a way to stop it is sought.  That is because blood is necessary to sustain life.  With the advances in medicine blood can be oxygenated outside the body with ECMO and it can be detoxed outside the body with dialysis; it can be transfused.

Blood is not only essential to life but it is also essential to salvation.  When Jesus spread out His arms on the cross he sweated tears and bleed for us.  His bright red blood washes us clean and scratches out the crimson stain that sin leaves in our lives.  As was noted this morning at Passion City Church this gives us hope.  Without blood we would be lost and wouldn’t know what real love is.  Without blood we would be living with sin being held over our heads.  Without blood we would hopeless without the promise of eternal life in paradise.

As heard in the song There Is Power In the Blood.  The blood has power to save.  The blood has the power of hope.  The blood has the power to bleach us clean.

From medicine to Christianity there is so much wonder in blood.  We have more than one reason to be grateful for blood as it gives us both life and rebirth!

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For the Love of Pediatrics

Anyone who knows me well or have asked me what field of medicine I want to go into know how much I love kids and desire to become a pediatrician.  This is a dream I have been chasing since I was a 5 year old girl watching Oprah with her Mommy.  A dream that has remained unchanged through High School, College, basic sciences in Medical School, and most recently my clinical rotations, including my pediatric core rotation.

I finished pediatrics about 3 weeks ago (after already completing a 4 week elective in neonatology).  Despite having some difficult patients I still desire to become a pediatrician. However, I do have some interesting stories.

One of my patients was the cutest little boy…he was maybe 3-4 years old.  When I walked into room 1  and introduced myself to the patient, his sister, and his mother he quickly got off his mother’s lap and walked over to greet me.  I responded saying it was nice to meet him and asked why he was at the doctors office that particular day.  Without missing a beat he replied, “There’s a bug in my eye and it hurts!”  (Does that remind anyone else of Toy Story where Woody says, “There’s a snake in my boot”?)  While he was insistent that there was a bug present in his eye he did not know how or when it got there but knew that it hurt and itched.  Eventually, the pain and itching was more than he could handle and he broke down crying (it broke my heart to see him like that).  But thankfully, it was determined to be allergies and he was given Benadryl and a freeze pop and sent home with a couple prescription.

I saw many babies with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) as this is a common phenomena in newborns since the muscle that keeps contents in the stomach is not strong enough yet and these babies spit up after eating but resolves by 8 months.  A young mom of one baby in particular was overwhelmed by this and in the babies first month of life I saw her 6 times.  Despite continually telling the mom to reduce to amount of milk she gets at each feed because a 1 monther can only hold 2 maybe 3 ounces in her stomach not 4-5 the mom still feed her more because she was concerned her baby was not getting enough because she spit up so much even though she had consistent weight gain.  (As a side note:  this past week I ran into this mom and baby at Sams Club and the baby still appears to be growing well.)

Another memorable patient was  a teenager with recurrent bloody noses in the morning when he wakes up making him having to change his pillow case.  When my doctor examined this patients nose she showed me the bulging artery in his right nostril.  She proceeded to cauterize this artery in the hope of stopping the nosebleeds from occurring.  The trick is after cauterizing the artery the patient is not able to sneeze until it is completely dry, however, this procedure makes the patient want to sneeze.  So I had to spend the next 15-20 minutes fanning the patients nose with a magazine.  When my attending came to check on his nose she noticed that the procedure caused another vessel to swell and the entire process (including the nose fanning) had to repeat all over again.

Another patient that broke my heart did so because I could completely relate.  This particular patients mom brought in her daughter because she was drinking water excessively and constantly having to go to the restroom.  One finger prick later it was determined that she had Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus after a blood glucose reading over 400.  The mom was informed that she needed to take her daughter to the ED at the children’s hospital immediately , for hospital admission, in order to investigate a metabolic disorder.  As soon as she heard this the little girl started crying and asking if she was going to die.  This immediately brought me back to my 14 year old self when I too was given the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.  Fortunately for me, when I was diagnosed my blood glucose levels were not that high and I did not have to report to the ER immediately for hospital admission.  Additionally, I was asymptomatic and was diagnosed on a routine high school physical.  However, I know what that girl was feeling as I was devastated, crying, and felt like my life was over.  There is no doubt that DM is a life changing diagnosis because it requires major lifestyle modifications, especially so for those who end up on insulin.

One aspect that saddened was the amount of patients who should have been seeing a psychiatrist but their parents refused to take them due to negative stigma.  This required my attending to wear multiple hats and be a psychiatrist which required a longer appointment time then was scheduled putting us behind schedule.  As time goes on more and more minor experience depression, ADHD, and eating disorders but due to their parents fear of what others will think they are not getting the right help.  This was especially true when I had a patient who was severely depressed and my doctor did not feel that she would be able to adequately treat her.

These 6 weeks did teach me some things that I would like to include in my future practice.  1. I want to have freeze pops in my office.

2. Leave appointment slots open everyday for people with last minute urgent cases.

3. Encourage the nursing staff to wear fun scrubs that would be entertaining for the kids.

4. Maybe keep some magazines in the patient room as you never know when they would be useful.

With pediatrics core and neonatology behind me I now await to start Childhood and Adolescent Medicine as well as  Allergy and Immunology later on this year.

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Blessings and Mercies

A little over 3 years ago when I first started this blog I intended for it to be a way for my followers to go on my journey through the medical field with me.  This journey has been pretty amazing and included many different destinations.  Destinations that have allowed me to bask in the awe of God’s creation and it does not appear to be stopping anytime soon.

It all started out in April of 2013 when I moved to St. Kitts for 19 months.  A time where I was able to live in the tropics and have summer all year round.  Which, for a northern, like me, who enjoys having 4 seasons is not something I would wish for my entire life.  For a year of this time I was able to wake up and look out my window to see the ocean.  This time in St. Kitts allowed for me to live in a different culture and country.  It allowed me to try new fruits, new juices, and learn how to live on my own.

From St. Kitts I transitioned to Portland, Maine in January of 2015.  (Yes I went from summer year round to Maine in the middle of winter).  While I have heard about the beauty of Northern New England I, for the most part, saw it glistening in snow (at one point we got 8 feet in the course of a week).  Due to all the snow class was canceled on Mondays for 1 month straight.  I think that was the most snow days in 1 year I had my entire life.  I did, however, get to enjoy some very beautiful skies and now have a desire to return one summer and be able to experience all the beauty that Maine has to offer.  An experience to learn about the care God put in when he created this place.  This will also give me a chance to go whale watching since the whale watching season started a couple weeks after I left the area.

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From Maine I went back home and spent 6 months at home.  This time allowed me to be able to attend some family functions.  Upon the quick passing of those 6 months my mom and I once again moved me south (but not as far this time) to Augusta, GA (my favorite place school has taken me thus far).  Besides seeing the beauty of Augusta, especially around the time of Masters, I got to travel a little and see Savannah, Greenville, and Lake Lure, NC.

IMG_0412 (Savannah, GA)

IMG_3930(Lake Robinson in Taylors, SC)

IMG_0534(Blue Ridge Mountains on the way to NC)

IMG_0536    (Lake Lure, NC)

After a fast 7 months in Augusta I moved to Atlanta.  Unlike the Augusta, Atlanta has a lot of concrete and very little greenery.  In Atlanta I have gone to a Cubs game when they were here playing the Braves, attended Passion City Church multiple times, and this past weekend spent some time at the Georgia Aquarium.

This weekend I will be going to explore Charleston, SC and see and experience the beauty and history of that town.  I will be remaining in Atlanta for the next couple months before moving once again.

But what is really exciting is what I will be doing next year.  When I was in Maine I was working with a pediatrician who completed a fellowship in integrative medicine which peaked my interest in that field.  A little research, with some direction from said preceptor, showed me that there is a single program with an elective rotation offered for 4th year medical students at the University of Arizona in Tucson.  As soon as the application opened up I submitted my app and found out early last month that I was accepted for one of the 2 spots for international medical students for the Spring 2017 rotation.  Therefore, I will be spending 4 weeks in Tucson, AZ beginning in the end of March of 2017.  I am so excited and know it is only by God’s grace, mercy, and blessings that I have this opportunity.  During this time I will get to learn about the beauty God put into the desert and I spend those few weeks there and hopefully have some time to explore.

God has truly blessed me with my surroundings, new relationships, and His mercies these past 3 years.  When I left Wheeling for St. Kitts 39 months ago I could never have guessed I would have been able to experience all I have thus far and my medical journey is still just beginning.

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Oh My Lanta

Just over a month ago (June 10th, 2016 to be exact) I began a TEMPORARY move from Augusta, GA to Atlanta, GA (which I will reverse in October…yeah!) This consisted on filling up a UHAUL truck with all my furniture and many other belongings and driving the 2 hours to my new apartment. Thanks to my wonderful parents and boyfriend I was able to get everything moved (though not settled) in a single day. However, the move was not uneventful.

A little backstory…when I first found out last September that I would need to complete a portion of my clinical rotations in Atlanta I was dreading it. I have never been a fan of Atlanta and could not see myself living there. This feeling never changed the entire time I was in Augusta. The feeling only got worse when I arrived in Atlanta. See I found a nice apartment, again in a gated community, several weeks prior so I was comfortable where I was living but it did not take long for it to change. When I arrived at my apartment complex the office was closed because the staff was in a meeting and then my apartment was not ready.

We had already planned to return to Augusta for the night to finish cleaning my old place and go out to dinner with my friend, Kalina, and her fiancé, Richard. Trying to get our of Atlanta lead to issues as we were stuck in the horrendous Atlanta traffic turning our 6:30-7 o’clock dinner into an 8:30-9 o’clock dinner.

Despite the horrors of day 1 in Atlanta I was looking forward to day 2 as I was going to the Cubs play the Braves at Turner Field with my parents, Timothy, Timothy’s parents, aunt, uncle, cousin, brother and girlfriend, and friend. However, traffic getting back to my apartment meant no time to settle in before the game. Still I was able to make happy memories in ATL watching the Cubs win with people I love…plus I got to eat a frozen lemonade treat :).

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Greg Maddux played for both the Cubs and the Braves in his MLB career and he has a tribute at Turner Field.

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(The stands would not have been this empty at Wrigley Field).

Atlanta is also not so bad on Sunday morning when driving into Passion City Church.  At 8:45 in the morning many people are not on the road (they are probably at home still in bed)and the Interstates are wide open.  In situations like this a 10 minute ride really takes 10 minutes rather then the norm when it would take 30 minutes plus.

While Atlanta by far is not my favorite place to live or my favorite place school has taken me it is only temporary and I will do my best to make the most of it and secure more good memories.

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Breaking the Bad News

There is one thing we all have in common…at some point along life’s journey we will die. For some this occurs early on in the journey and for other people it is very late in the journey. This results in those in the medical field, most of the time physicians, must give the bad news about the death of a loved one or of a serious illness to patients and/or families.

I had my first encounter with giving bad news during my very first rotation (IM). During one of my first shifts in Weiss ER a patient was brought into the ER in cardiac arrest for at least 20 minutes. After the Attending physicians worked on him for a few he was pronounced dead in the ED. When his family arrived it was up to my attending to inform the family of their loss and she decided it would be a good learning experience for me and tasked me with the delivery of the bad news. However, the police officers who found the next of kin and brought them to the hospital had already informed them of the death of the patient.

My subsequent encounter with death occurred when I was in OB/GYN. Late one morning we had a 18-year old patient come in with her mom for her first OB appointment. After going over the routine first visit questions and exam she went back out to the waiting room for her 8 week ultrasound and pregnancy confirmation. About 40 minutes later the ultrasound technician solemnly walks into my preceptors office asking for help as she was unable to find a heartbeat.

The three of us walked into the ultrasound room where we could see both the patient and her mother were visibly upset as they were aware of the lack of heartbeat. Again the technician placed the ultrasound wand and searched but was unable to locate a heartbeat. With the visual and auditory confirmation of the lack of heartbeat my attending offered her condolences to the patient as she explained that for some unknown reason her baby has died in utero.

To a new member of the medical profession it did not seem like my preceptor was phased by having to tell her patient that she lost her baby. Upon discussion she told me that it gets easier each time as you learn the best way to deliver the news and how to be able to read the patient and add additional information or support if needed. She also explained the importance for being there to answer any questions the patient or her family may have as they process the loss of the child. Miscarriage is not uncommon in the first trimester of pregnancy. It only seems more common nowadays because expectant parents are able to find out sooner that they are expecting.

For me this was a difficult experience. It took all I had not to start crying in the ultrasound room as I watched the ultrasound and realized the tech was right…no heartbeat was present. This little life was gone and never going to be able to experience a first breath, crawling, walking, talking…nothing. The urge to cry only intensified when the patient and her mom started crying. I could only imagine the pain they were going through. The loss of a loved one is never easy. I have friends who have struggled with miscarriages and I have seen first hand the pain they had to endure. I just can’t see how telling parents they lost their baby before they were able to hold it ever gets any easier.

Most recently, during my surgery rotation, I had a patient who came in for an evaluation for breast cancer. This patient was in her 80’s and had changes on her mammogram with a history of breast deformation and nipple retraction for the past couple of years. By the time she presented to us my preceptor was able to palpate a mass on the opposite breast as well. Upon walking out of the exam room my preceptor told myself and the other student that without a doubt in his mind that patient had at least stage 3 breast cancer probably stage 4. Even still she was sent for a biopsy before she was told she had cancer. Once the positive results were back my preceptor called the patient to inform her of her diagnosis once again being available for any questions she or her family may have.

No matter the stage in one’s life bad news about health is never easy to give. To many people their health is something that is important to them and learning about a breech in their idea of their health can be devastating. As a 14 year-old learning about my diabetes diagnosis I felt like my entire world was crashing in on me. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how I would survive. What 14 year-old wants to change their life to adapt to a new normal?

As a profession, physicians, need to be compassionate. For them telling families about the loss of a loved one or patients about a serious illness/disability/diagnosis might get mundane but for those hearing the news it is fresh and life changing. Therefore, the compassion shown to the first family or patient a physician ever informed needs to be same compassion shown to the last family/patient informed about the ‘bad news’ right before retirement. Knowing your physician cares and is there to answer questions and help be or find a support system helps to digest the news a little better. All in all, it should not get easier with each delivery because each ‘bad news’ delivery is different but still needs to be done respectfully, professionally, and with a sense of compassion.

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A Day in Savannah

After living in Georgia for the past 4.5 months I finally was able to venture to Savannah, Georgia on Saturday.  On Friday, my surgeon gave me the weekend off from rounds which meant I was free to venture out of Augusta for the weekend.  Saturday morning my boyfriend and I set out on the 2.5 hour drive for Savannah to meet up with his Aunt and Uncle for a wonderful day in the beautiful Georgia weather.

The drive was pretty uneventful (except for all the roadkill along the road…including an armadillo) with beautiful scenery despite being mainly backroads.  (One thing I have learned living in the south is that the most direct routes seem to utilize backroads rather than interstate unless you want to go out of your way).

When we first got to Savannah we stopped at the Harley Davidson store and looked around…and took a photo with the old Harley truck toting the Harley bike.

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After the Harley store we met up with his Aunt and Uncle and walked around the City Market, with brick paved walkways, which had a couple of guys playing guitar and singing country songs.  (There was also a German Shepard playing in a pile of ice and he was loving it…I think he would love life in Chicago in the winter).

After the Market we drove over to a nice park where we saw the park bench where Forrest Gump sat in for the movie…and we sat in it.  The drive to the park was extraordinary with overhanging trees and Spanish moss.

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To end out the day we went to a nice little seafood diner off the beaten path that had wonderful food. All in all it was a great day filled with Chicago Cubs, Harley Davidson, Georgia sunshine, and wonderful company!  I would say my time in Savannah was success.

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Surgery Week 1

Unlike the basic science portion of my medical education the clinical science portion seems to be flying by like a train speeding down the tracks.  Maybe it is because each rotation lasts at the most 12 weeks but most are 4-6 weeks long…all of which are shorter than 1 basic science semester (as such don’t ask me what semester I am in now).

This past Monday I entered the world of surgery.  The first several patients had myself and another student wondering how common hernias actually are because it was seeming like every patient had one…but eventually we encountered a patient without a hernia.  With a week (1/12 of the rotation) of surgery under my belt I still feel that for a general surgeon hernia repair and gallbladder removal seem to be 2 of the more common surgical procedure.  However, there are still 11 weeks for that opinion to change.

So far, through out my rotations God has blessed me with for the most part with excellent preceptors and my surgery preceptor is no exception.  In fact, I really wanted this preceptor that I requested him based on a recommendation by a friend who rotated with him as well as my previous preceptor from neonatology.

The phrase, ‘physicians like to cut,’ is commonly known by people in and out of the medical field alike.  This phrase does not hold true for my preceptor.  While he will gladly cut if it needs to be done but he is honest with his patients and tells him if he does not think surgery is the best option, especially with the patients main issue is pain, or if there is time to wait and try medical management first.  However, if the patient wants to proceed with a surgery despite his reservations he will perform the surgery so long as the pt is a surgical candidate.

What I like most about my preceptor is that he does not hide behind his profession but lets his faith shine.  I have already experienced multiple patient encounters where he discusses his faith and beliefs with the patients.  But what gets me more is he asks the patient if he could pray with him/her in the pre-op area before the patient is under anesthesia whenever the surgery is not an emergency.  That is the type of physician I hope to be one day…after all I do serve the Great Healer.

Over the course of the last week I have been given the opportunity to watch several procedures including both inpatient and outpatient.  I think the coolest has been watching a breast cyst get drained.  While watching the cyst on the ultrasound screen it suddenly disappeared in a matter of seconds without even appearing to shrink. I am sure by the time I finish this rotation I will have witnessed many more procedures and and learned many more skills including perfecting my suturing technique.

One thing is for sure…this is going to be a great educational experience.

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This Princess Wears Scrubs

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A Kei Experience

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