It’s been a strangely busy spring break! I’ve tended to numerous chunks of my personal life that I put off when school is in session, like finalizing plans for my move to Indy, buying a computer, and having regular-length conversations with my family. I’ve also been working on a module for a project we’ll be doing with local high school students in April. I haven’t gotten to writing outlines for our upcoming neuro oral exams and have hardly studied for boards like I planned. But I’ve also had some time to relax and have fun. Rock For Riley and the Medical Missions Student Interest Group (MMSIG) hosted a concert at Birdy’s: Trevor Hall with Matthew Santos opening. I wish I could be here for R4R’s main event April 7th!
This month we’re also submitting our preferences for the sequence of our third-year rotations. There are three blocks, each lasting 16 weeks. Medicine consists of inpatient (IP) and/or outpatient (OP) medicine, neuro, and psych. The peds block has IP and OP peds, family medicine, and vacation–but if like 60% of third-years, you take an elective during this time, you can tack an extra month of vacation onto fourth year’s schedule. Or you can save your vacation for last and start your sub-internship early instead. The surgery block keeps us busy with general surgery, ob/gyn, and a surgical subspecialty.
You’ll hear advice ranging from “take no more than 15 minutes to plan your schedule” to emphatic (and sometimes differing) opinions on what to pick and when. I appreciate all of it and am trying to settle somewhere in the middle. Like a lot of med students, I’ve always erred on the side of creating multi-year plans. One of my classmates is the same way: “Want some of my colored markers to mark which sequences are your favorite?” …Yeah, yeah I do.
Anyway, all this got me thinking about which specialty I like, especially since certain electives require third-year prerequisites and so a little extra planning. And I remembered that the last couple times I’ve left the hospital, where I work with mostly elderly patients, I’ve run into kids on my way out. And they cheered me up each time.
Waiting for the elevator, one little girl broke away from her cousins to approach me. “May I ask you a question? …Do you get to go out and pick up people to bring them here?!” I had to tell her no, but my friend does! I loved her enthuasiasm.
As we all stepped into the elevator, one boy looked up and started talking to his sister. They all giggled gleefully as they realized the elevator ceiling was a mirror and talked to each other’s reflection. I’d never noticed! If laughter’s contagious, kids’ laughter definitely is.
Another day, I befriended a little guy wearing an awesome Spiderman shirt: a web was attached to its sleeves and trunk so that it was very impressive when he stretched out his arms. As the elevator doors closed on me, he started crying. I was touched, thinking I’d made an impact, until I realized it was probably because he couldn’t ride on the elevator.
Later at school, a pediatrician reviewed videos and write-ups of our standardized-patient interviews and physicals with us individually. I asked her if examining a child is more difficult. She said no; it is less complicated because they have a cleaner slate: no long list of medications, rarely comorbidities. Also, sometimes a caretaker is the best source of information for a patient too sick to think of everything, and this is certainly the case when the caretaker is a parent.
So I am going to investigate pediatric oncology. While I love the diagnostic process when a patient walks in with what could be anything, I want to specialize because I like to know all the details and explanations, but this is difficult to do unless you stick to one field or two. With oncology, I’d have the chance to help patients feel better and hopefully get better too. Patients who recover may go on to lead long lives. I would strive to be there also for their parents, who might have a greater sense of the gravity of the situation and more worries on their minds in addition to their main concern for their child. I haven’t had cancer, but my mom has had cancer over the years, so in some ways I dealt with it in childhood and know what kind of doctor my mom appreciated having. And I would be able to build relationships with patients and their families, as they’d be there for more than a day; but the goal would be that they not stay too long, either.
Being in pediatrics, whether in a subspecialty or general, may also make me a better public health advocate. Starting with children (and their parents) is the best way to effect change. Sifting through storage over break, I came across a Seventeen magazine from 1969 with an ad for a weight GAIN product. How fast our society can change!
And how fast time flies when I’m writing about specialties. The next two years’ experiences will be the best way to explore them.