Span of One Day

At 4 AM yesterday, I went off to babysit a child who was about to become a big brother. At 7 AM, his father sent me pictures of the latest addition to our population. Although the delivery itself had some complications requiring a C-section, the outcome was a healthy baby boy. My charge and I spent the rest of the day looking at pictures of his new sibling and celebrating the day of his birth.

At 6 PM the same day, I headed to the ED to start another 8 hour shift. Not even thirty minutes into the shift, we had two full arrests come in by paramedics. The physician whom I was scribing for took the 97 year old who was in respiratory distress. The other ER physician took the 4 year old pediatric cardiac arrest. As far as I know, our 97 year old is still thriving, albeit in critical condition in the ICU. The 4 year old, who was running in the park just an hour before, was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival. There are a lot of terrible sounds in the world. But the sound of a mother screaming out her daughter’s name is bone-chilling. It is a wonder how anyone – physician, nurse, respiratory technician, EMT – can continue on with their jobs after losing such a battle.

January 29th marks a witnessed birth and death. Life works in strange ways, doesn’t it?

11 out of 10

Between working a number of shifts in the ED, prosecting, teaching Anatomy, and babysitting, I have not had a chance to sit down and update this blog. It may be due to the overnight shifts, which have been warping my sense of time, but I legitimately thought that we were at the end of October up until I resurfaced the other day to find out that it’s only mid-October! I guess with the on-going application cycle, it’s best to keep busy and not become obsessed with the intricate workings of medical school admissions.

Anyway, I wanted to write a brief post highlighting a new book by Freida McFadden aka Dr. Fizzy. It’s called 11 out of 10: A Collection of Humorous Medical Short Stories, and as you may surmise, there are a number of contributors to this particular novel including, yours truly!

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A quick disclaimer, my short story is definitely not that great when compared to some of these seasoned writers. I wrote it about two years ago, and in retrospect, it definitely sounds “green” to me. If I had the chance to re-do it, I could probably come up with funnier material, especially with everything I’ve encountered as a scribe thus far. But I digress. Regardless of how funny (or not) my own story is, I can guarantee that it is part of a collection of amazing stories written from various perspectives. The best part is that 100% of the proceeds will be donated directed to “Deworm the World“, a charity hand-selected by Dr. Fizzy herself.

So, if you have a moment, check out the links above. Even if you’re not interested in the book itself, consider donating directly to the charity as all it takes is mere pennies to get the appropriate medication to these children who are riddled with parasitic infections.

— A.

Memorizing Muscle Facts (Again)

Although I planned to take a break from school this year and instead, work more hours to pay for the ridiculous amount of debt I have accrued from applications thus far, my three-month summer break left me craving for some educational stimulation. So, I signed up for a Human Prosection class series that will begin this Fall and finish up at the end of Spring semester next year. It’s actually a pretty awesome class so far – and it’s amazing that a class like this is offered through a community college. What is Prosection, you ask? It is a class where a cadaver is dissected with the intent of using it to teach and demonstrate anatomical structures. In short, this cadaver will be a teaching tool for years to come and cannot be dissected without regard. But yes, that means that I, a pre-medical student, have the opportunity to dissect a full cadaver from beginning to the end with four other students. There are medical schools in the US that offer fewer opportunities for their students as they move forward towards “Virtual Anatomy”.

But I digress. While the experience has been enriching so far, one item that I am not looking forward to, is teaching muscle facts to students in the lower level Anatomy classes in two weeks. When I was in their position, I went for a straight memorization method and was able to muddle through the muscle unit of Anatomy. However, teaching is an entirely different game as students will be asking me questions that will challenge my understanding of the entire body. So this week, I will not only have to memorize the muscles, insertions, origins, and actions again, but I will have to do it in a way where I can verbally recall them without faltering in front of my students.

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This linked post from Action Potential has some great tips that I am going to attempt this week. However, if anyone else has any other tricks up their sleeves – or any teaching pointers to seem more confident in front of your fellow peers – please send them my way!

— A.

Source: How to memorize origins and insertions

When I Grow Up

Inspired by barefootmed’s post about passion, I decided to create a “mindmap” from a post I drafted up back in October of 2013 that illustrates my thought process as I was deciding what career would suit me best.

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This is of course a watered down version of the real deal. There were many other professions and disciplines that I considered going into whether it be for a moment or for an extended period of time. I wish I could say that I had it figured out in high school. I mean, I thought I did – like many other pre-meds, I had declared that I wanted to be a doctor back when I was 5 years old. But as you learn more about the world, you just realize there is just so much more out there than your generic, “teacher, firefighter, lawyer, doctor” spiel that you get in elementary school. Friends, movies, tv shows, books, professors, colleagues, people – they all gave me perspective.

While I am happy that I found my way back to my five-year old’s dream, up until two years ago, I honestly never knew why I was hell-bent on becoming a doctor. There aren’t any physicians in my immediate or extended family. I wasn’t exposed to death at an early age, nor was I diagnosed with any life-threatening disease that required frequent trips to the hospital. I had no fractures or broken bones growing up and I was seldom sick so the only time I would see my pediatrician was once a year during a wellness exam. That’s all. So why was I “passionate” about becoming a doctor when I couldn’t identify where that passion stemmed from?

High school students (and younger) are often led to believe that in order to find that right job for you, you must be passionate about it. This hit close to home for me because there were countless times in college and high school where I would find something science-related boring and question my intentions for going into the medical field. I had a high school guidance counselor who stood up to my freshmen class and told us that if we weren’t passionate about science and math, we were probably not going to become doctors. It struck a nerve then, and it still irks me now that a counselor would say that to students who barely had a grasp on what they wanted to do, let alone understood what the term “passionate” entailed. As someone who naturally excelled in English and History, I definitely started questioning myself after hearing just that one phrase. And that’s probably what spawned my inability to commit to one profession during my college years.

Of course, nothing beats being Mr. Feeny.

So back in October of 2013, months after graduating from college and on the brink of taking classes for the MCAT, I sat down and tried to logically explain what worked and what didn’t. And I came to the conclusion that it’s just not ONE thing that makes this profession suitable. It doesn’t boil down to passion. It stems from a myriad of factors including my likes, dislikes, and job expectations. And when all of that was taken into consideration, I just knew. Regardless of how long this process will take, nor how many hoops I need to jump through to get there, this is what I want to be when I grow up.

<3 A.

 

The Waiting Game

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you view the glass), I have never had to endure the anxiety that comes with being placed on the wait list. For every application I have submitted in the past, I have either been accepted or rejected and that was that. Until today.

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At this moment, I’ll refrain from saying anything more, simply because I don’t want to jinx anything. I haven’t written in a while, but I promise I’m still around. And with my application submitted for the 2016 cycle, I will definitely have updates to provide. But for now – prayers, chants, advice, or anything else to nudge me across that fine line between wait list and accepted would be greatly appreciated. My birthday’s in one week and three hours and there’s nothing, short of an actual acceptance to medical school, that I have wanted more. Of course, I still stand by the usual “everything happens for a reason“. So if it’s not meant to be, I’ll be just fine.

Here’s to hoping,

A.

 

 

Scribing

I may or may not have mentioned this already, but I have been working as an ER Scribe for the past few months now at a nearby hospital. I was actually hired on by the company back in October, but I had to go through an arduous training period until I was finally “recommended” to begin solo shifts. The length of training was understandable given that scribes work directly with physicians and ensure that these physicians are billed adequately for their time. One mistake could cost the ER doctor a lot of money, or worse, a lawsuit. But some of the delay was partly due to administration and miscommunication, so I couldn’t become a “full-fledged scribe” until earlier this year.

Before I go on, for those of you who do not know what the job entails, which is totally okay because up until a year ago, I knew very little myself, as a scribe, I help write up charts for patients who come into the ER, allowing the physician to spend more 1-on-1 time with the patient.

23 year old female presents to the ED with complaint of insomnia onset three days ago. Patient complains of back pain and weakness, but denies vomiting, nausea, or any other symptoms.

Scribing is becoming increasingly popular as hospitals shift from paper to electronic medical records. And why pay extra for an educated individual, when you have boatloads of pre-meds who would jump at the chance of working with physicians directly! Thus, I am the physician’s shadow, listening in when a patient explains their symptoms and medical history and typing away furiously when the physician dictates to me findings from a physical exam. Is it overwhelming? Most definitely. But is it interesting? Hell yes! I have seen so many exquisite cases in just my few months at the hospital so far. And if there is one thing I have taken away from my experience it’s that during a shift, a physician may be presented with 100 patients with abdominal pain as their chief complaint. However, it takes a keen observer to distinguish that one patient who might have a unique and possibly life-threatening diagnosis. No matter the time or how tired you may be, you cannot afford to careless when it comes to a person’s life.

It is astonishing how invested I am in this job, when initially, I had only applied to silence my mother who was badgering me about finding a “real job” for my résumé. I’m sure there is a crafty way to present ‘babysitting’ on your résumé, but it just didn’t seem like something that would impress future schools or employers. Don’t get me wrong, babysitting has been, and still is, a great way to make cash. I still babysit on the side now because I do make 2x, sometimes even 3x, the amount I make as a scribe. But the experience that I have gained as a scribe, is just unparalleled. I have learned more field-related information in the past few months than I did in the last 23 years of my life!

There is definitely a steep learning curve associated to this job. During my first few weeks of training, I had over 600 abbreviations and terms thrown at me, some so foreign-sounding that I questioned what I was getting myself into.

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when I found out that HA stood for headache -.-

To be honest, I am still learning, and will probably continue to learn until my last day as a scribe, but that’s something I should be used to if I want to become a physician. Just the other day, I was working with an older physician who was unsure if a patient’s diagnosis should be paraphimosis or phimosis. She had me do a Google search (which revealed some interesting images in the ER that I’m sure would be labeled NSFW) and then proceeded to devise a mnemonic to remember the difference between the two terms.

As I mentioned above, I work 8+ hour shifts, most of those shifts are devoid of breaks, and 95% of the time, I am on my feet. I come home mentally and physically exhausted. But, I have worked many jobs in the past and I can honestly say that this is the first job that I am so involved in what I am doing, that time simply flies by. There are the occasional glances at the clock – I’m only human after all – but for the most part, I am constantly entertained with charts or looking up bits of information online, or engaging with the physicians, that before I know it, my shift is over and I leave with a sense of fulfillment. It just validates the sentiment that when you are doing what you love, you’re never really “working”.

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<3 A.

 

 

More Than Words

During my daily ritual of perusing interesting articles and links, I stumbled across this website which tells you the #1 song on the day you were born. I’m pretty sure that I have seen this link before, or some sort of version of this link, because this #1 song was added to my iTunes playlist on March 14th, 2014 and has been played exactly 41 times to date.

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There was also a parody of this song featuring Nuno Bettencourt in an episode of How I Met Your Mother.

As much as I love discovering connections between seemingly unrelated topics, I also think the song itself is blog-worthy (as well as a pretty good song in general). Back in ’91, Bettencourt noted the diminishing value of the phrase “I love you”  –

“People use it so easily and so lightly that they think you can say that and fix everything, or you can say that and everything’s OK. Sometimes you have to do more and you have to show it—there’s other ways to say ‘I love you.'”

It’s 2015 now, 24 years later, and I think the issue is still present, if not larger than before. I know I, myself, am guilty of tossing out these three words loosely. But then again, maybe the phrase doesn’t hold the same sort of power it did before. And if it does not, then how do you distinguish the real thing? How do you express those deep, innermost feelings if by today’s standards, the phrase “I love you” can be casually thrown out without any attached emotion? Perhaps in this case, actions really do speak louder than words.

With love,

A.