Sorry, no new posts for a while until I finish my CaRMS applications. The Residency Match process is pretty much the only stressor in your final year of medical school. Now back to those personal letters… it’s sort of like applying to medical school all over again… but with different worries.
Monthly Archives: November 2011
Looking through my old drafts, I found a post written when I was starting medical school that was never published. (Written September 28th, 2008) I’m glad to see I still agree with the feelings and thoughts I had then. Published now three years later as I am about to graduate from medical school. Unedited for authenticity.
Every week in medical school, we have a class that focuses on how to be a good doctor. In this class we discuss how to take a history, what your posture should be like and how to empathize with patients. At this point in our education, our class generally finds the material confusing, considering we know nothing about anatomy and disease. How does listening to their concerns about their daily function going to help us heal them? How does talking to their family have anything to do with treating a disease? It all seem cryptic until, you’re on the other side.
My Grandpa was hospitalized a few days ago. He had just finished his Sunday afternoon lunch when he started having a shortness of breath. With each breath, there was an increasing pain in his chest. An hour later, he couldn’t breathe. When he was brought in to the hospital, the doctors discovered his right lung had collapsed due to a tension pneumothorax. My Grandpa is 86 years old and has had declining health in the past year. The doctors put in a 22 French chest tube into my Grandpa’s chest and moved him to the ICU. The last time I had been in a hospital was when I saw my Grandma lose her fight to cancer.
As medical students, we sometimes get desensitized from what it means to be sick and how it affects a family. We learn about all sorts of strange diseases in our lectures and labs and we spend enormous amounts of time studying them. After many hours in the library, we understand their pathology, biochemical reactions and common treatments, but we often forget how sickness impacts a patient’s life and their family members.
Even though I am a medical student who understands the science and complications behind my Grandpa’s collapsed lung, I was weak when I heard the bad news. I was overwhelmed with fear and worries. I asked about my Grandpa’s condition and if he would get better. I Google’d his condition and looked for answers. I hung on to every word from the doctor’s mouth. I was just as helpless as any other person.
It is from these experiences – when you become the patient and their family member – that the value of our patient-care classes become meaningful. I want a doctor who is competent AND can explain to things to me clearly and patiently. I want a doctor who will listen to our concerns and will work with us according to our values. Who will take the time to go over everything and ask if there are any other questions. A doctor who not only treats the disease but also heals the patient and their families.
I hope this feeling of uneasiness and nervousness stays with me throughout my journey through medicine. I want to remember how serious sickness can be and how it can cause family members to fly in from all around the world to unite with a loved one. I don’t want to forget how much of an impact illness can have on a family and how scary losing someone can be. I don’t know how my Grandpa will be. He is old and has lived a full life, but I want him to stay… if even for just a bit longer. I still want to talk to him and have dinner with him while listening to his crazy stories. If he passes away, I know my family and my aunts and uncles and cousins will grow more distant.
I don’t want to forget my Grandpa and Grandma. I don’t want to forget what it’s like to be a patient or to be dealing with a sickness in a loved one.
Today I want to do a quick review of an PoorMD‘s eBook titled First Aid for Personal Finance: What Every Medical Student and Resident Should Know
The best thing about this book is it only costs $0.99 and hopefully the small price you pay will pay for itself in with the knowledge in the book. Note, you can only buy the book in electronic format at this time (You’ll need either a Kindle or the kindle app on your computer or smartphone)
The book is divided into 10 sections + 1 bonus section. The first few parts are pretty general knowledge about how to keep your debt low in medical school, how to save on school textbooks and what types of scholarships/funding is available for medical students. Where the book really shines is when it talks about residency and how to save some money while doing your interviews, how to help pay for moving costs and how to start a family during medschool/residency. There are also sections on more technical financial advice including insurance, retirement savings and tax planning.
Dr. Chang offers practical tips as well as his personal philosophy when it comes to finances. In a profession where “money talk” is so common, First Aid Personal Finance is a quick and easy read with implementable strategies. It’ll take you about an hour to read the book from cover to cover.
Overall, it was a buck well spent and I hope the ideas and advice I found will help me manage my finances better during residency. Get your copy of First Aid for Personal Finance: What Every Medical Student and Resident Should Know at Amazon
Dr. James Chang is currently a radiology resident and his blog PoorMD.com currently features his medical webcomics.
Conversation between me and a friend applying to Anesthesiology, while discussing our upcoming CaRMS applications.
Me: “So you’re not going to miss talking to patients at all?”
Him: “Not at all, I get to do as much talking as I want pre and post-op”
Me: “You’re not going to miss having your own patients?”
Him: “I get patients for each case, I don’t have to worry after they leave the OR”
Me: “I guess the physiology is pretty cool and the drugs you use are pretty neat”
Him: “Yeah, plus you learn how to manage really sick patients and do lots of procedures”
Me: “Is there anything you’re going to miss at all?”
Him: “Hmmm… I guess I won’t get to wear dress clothes to work anymore… that sucks… I have such nice clothes”
Thanks for checking out my blog to all the visitors from this week’s Grand Rounds at Health Business Blog. Always a good courtesy to send back some link karma.