The future looks… cloudy. With a chance of meatballs.

Claire has accused me of spending approximately 95% of my time since I’ve been on vacation, talking about Twilight. This is a patent lie, since I have clearly spent at least 30% of my time talking about David Cook, making people listen to David Cook, or singing David Cook songs in my newly allergies-induced sore throat-induced hoarse voice. When I’m not hacking up phlegm or blowing snot out of my nose, it’s quite becoming. You’ll just have to take my word for it, I guess.

Anyhoodle, today’s work involved so little Twilight or David Cook that it was appalling. I spent the day filling out dumb forms that we need in preparation for 4th year of med school. We received these forms earlier in December, during one of the few class-wide meetings that everyone is expected to attend. Mostly, the meeting sent me into a panic, because I had only asked, but not yet received, one letter of recommendation from my Internal Medicine rotation. I hadn’t even asked Dr. D from my Psychiatry rotation (maybe I was waiting to see my grade before I asked). This meant that when the Dean told us we should get at least 3 letters of recommendation in our files, I had… none. Cue the panic.

Fortunately, we then had exams and then I had to move and then I came home for break (and promptly picked up Twilight and did not emerge from my reading chair for two days), so I kind of forgot to panic. Today, though, I opened up the big scary manila envelope containing all the forms, and started filling them out. One of the forms is a “ballot” (their word, not mine) for academic advisors in your intended field. The form had three blank spots for possible fields, and three blank spots for preferred advisors. I filled in the three spots, and then added my own fourth line for possible fields. I KNOW. I’m just all over the place, and I don’t know what I’m doing. Anyway, the four specialties I filled in were radiology, surgery, ob/gyn, and pathology. I guess that now constitutes my Short List for Residency Possibilities. For this week, at least. My potential advisors included two professors who’d taught us, one I’d seen in action at the hospital, and some guy I’ve never even heard of. This can’t turn out worse than academic advising in college, though: in college, I bounced from advisor to advisor for 4 consecutive semesters until I put my foot down and started signing up at the department head’s office even though I wasn’t his advisee.

I’m also supposed to fill out a four-page “worksheet” providing my pertinent background information to the Deans. My favorite question on the first page is, “List your current hobbies and non-medical interests.” It’s interesting, the responses that this question evokes. My friend Adam’s reaction: “Who has time for hobbies? They pretend like when they were in med school they had all this free time. AND when they were in med school there was a lot less to know! Med school kinda blows.” (Do you now see the inherent danger in asking your local medical student how med school’s going? You risk getting this long, kind of angry, defeated rant that basically ends with, “med school sucks.” So, don’t ask, so that we don’t have to lie, okay? My favorite evasive response lately has been, “Well, it’s too late to quit now.” Wow, we are such downers.) My reaction: “As of now, my interests include cleaning my apartment so it’s not a dump, except that’s not a real hobby, because real hobbies are what you do after you’re done doing what needs to get done. Oooohhhh, what if I put down Twilight?!?!” Look, the question did specify “current” hobbies — Twilight is certainly the most current thing I’m into, unless you count eagerly anticipating the day David Cook songs are available on Rock Band, which I’m also currently doing.

Page 4 of the worksheet asks about college education, which sent me into peals of laughter, because I barely remember the things I did last week, much less up to eight(!) years ago. I’m so old.

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It’s the end of medicine!

[This post goes out to Grace, who I probably scared when I simply messaged her, “NO MORE MEDICINE, WOOHOO!” on gchat, and then disappeared. I later got a message from her that said, “WAIT, are you quitting med school?!” No, I am not. I think this story illustrates a growing difference in our vocabularies. Med school is tearing me apart from real life and real English!]

This past weekend was the end of my Internal Medicine rotation, which was my first rotation in 3rd year. If you’re thinking, “Wow, I didn’t realize she was on the same rotation since July; that seems really long,” you’d be right. It’s friggin’ long. Internal Medicine is a 10-week rotation in 3rd year, and it’s the longest rotation we do as students (3rd or 4th year). In fact, it used to be a 12-week rotation (meaning three whole months, ack), but this year, the school shortened the rotation to 10 weeks, because students in the past had asked to have extra time to explore other specialties as 3rd year students. Our choices were really wide-ranging and exciting, but instead of seeing something that I probably wouldn’t end up choosing as a career (ie, radiation oncology or dermatology or preventive medicine (I didn’t even know what this was when we were ranking our choices, but NOW I find out it would have meant working with the New York Department of Health on outbreak investigations(!) and Adolescent STD Education, maaaaan that would have been SO COOL dang it)), I decided to really take a look at a field I have been interested in since 1st year: I’m doing my elective in radiology! It’s funny because I came into med school thinking I could do anything except radiology because I didn’t think I would be able to stand sitting in a dark room all day. Imagine my surprise during 1st year when I realized I really liked looking at films, and was clearly a visual learner. Radiology keeps jumping in and out of my Short List of Possible Specialties (it has always lived on the Medium List), so much that I’ve now nicknamed it “The Siren Song of Radiology,” because while the specialty appeals to me so much, but the competitiveness of the field and the very real possibility of having to move to some really faraway place (such as a Dakota!) for residency makes it seem like a pipe dream. Anyway, we will see how the next 2 weeks go. One point for radiology: I don’t have to start until 9 AM every day! That seems luxuriously late, after 10 weeks of getting to the hospital before 7 AM.

In any case, when I say that I’m done with medicine, I don’t mean that I’m dropping out of medical school. Within the medical field, the word “medicine” has a very different meaning. To the New Me, “medicine” and “medical” mean having to do with Internal Medicine, internists, and basically anything that doesn’t have a procedure involved with it. Think pills, not scalpels.

Though I’m finished with the rotation, I have so many stories that I have been meaning to write about. (To blog about? That phrase just seems so wrong for me to be saying about myself. Would that make me a… blogger? Uh, I just threw up in my mouth a little at the idea.) I’m thinking that I’ll take advantage of these next 2 weeks of easy-peasy 9-to-5 working to catch up on storytelling. Here’s a good one to end with for today: at the end of each rotation, we have to fill out evaluations. One of the questions asked how many hours we worked per week, not counting the hours we stayed VOLUNTARILY (the word was in all caps). This was problematic because we are often told that we can leave, but it’s not like I’m going to take off at 2 PM simply because my interns don’t know what to do with me. Similarly, I have been on call and told that I could leave if I wanted to, even though technically we are supposed to stay for the duration of call. It’s a sticky situation because I don’t want to appear as though I don’t care, but I am sure that if I played it right, I could have been out of the hospital by 4 PM most weekdays (which is the absolute minimum we are expected to stay, as dictated by the school, not by our residents or interns). Does that mean that any time I’ve spent after 4 PM is considered “voluntary”? Of course not. But it wasn’t all against my will, either. I ended up splitting the difference and estimating that I spent 10 hours a day on non-call days plus 14 hours a day on call days, plus 6 hours on Saturdays, which came out to a rough estimate of 65 hours a week. 65. That is bananas, you guys. I will now proceed to scoff at anybody who complains about a 40-hour workweek (including the Old Me from 2004-2006).

Easier than taking a final exam

Medical Specialty Aptitude Test
From http://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/specialties/Home.cfm

Rank    Specialty             Score
1 	general surgery       39
2 	plastic surgery       39
3 	pathology             38
4 	ophthalmology         38
5 	gastroenterology      37
6 	emergency med         37
7 	orthopaedic surgery   37
8 	occupational med      37
9 	urology               37
10 	thoracic surgery      37
11 	otolaryngology        36
12 	nuclear med           36
13 	neurology             36
14 	hematology            36
15 	radiation oncology    36
16 	nephrology            36
17 	endocrinology         35
18 	cardiology            35
19 	colon & rectal surgery 35
20 	anesthesiology        35
21 	allergy & immunology  35
22 	pulmonology 	      35
23 	infectious disease    35
24 	neurosurgery 	      35
25 	radiology 	      35
26 	rheumatology 	      34
27 	dermatology 	      33
28 	general internal med  33
29 	obstetrics/gynecology 32
30 	med oncology 	      31
31 	preventive med 	      31
32 	aerospace med 	      31
33 	physical med & rehab  30
34 	psychiatry 	      30
35 	family practice       29
36 	pediatrics            25