26 November 2014

Med School Update: Residency Interviews

It was only a few days after Scott applied to residencies that he started to receive invitations to interview. Residency interviews take place from October to February of fourth year. Each residency contacts the applicants by email to extend the invitation to interview and offer potential dates. Students will likely have other rotations planned during that time, so they have to take time off from their rotation in order to attend the interview days. Typically, these residency interview schedules will include a dinner (the night before or night of the interviews, often including spouses or significant others), a day of interviews blocks (7:00 or 8:00 Am until around 3:00 Pm) with current residents and faculty, with a lunch in between for casual mingling and Q&A. The student may be interviewing with four or more other applicants on the same day, depending on the size of the residency. Interview questions are similar to job interviews, where they ask the student questions like: "why this specialty", "why this residency", "how do you overcome your weaknesses", etc. COMP-NW provided  its fourth year students with an online resource to prepare mentally to anticipate and answer these residency interview questions.

The requisite pre-interview selfie demanded by crazy blogger wife
Scott has now completed four residency interviews. One of his interviews happened while on an audition rotation with one residency. For that interview, Scott had a one hour discussion with the residency director on the last day of his rotation. All of the other interviews are scheduled for a full day, and Scott has had to take time away from his scheduled rotation in other states to travel to and attend the interviews. He has had to make up any time that he missed for those rotations due to interview travel.

Last month I had the opportunity to travel with him to one of the interviews. I attended a dinner the evening before the interviews. It was very casual event where some first and second year residents talked about their experience with the program and answered students' questions about program curriculum, camaraderie, and faculty. There weren't any resident spouses for me to talk with at that particular dinner, but there were other applicant spouses at the dinner. It was mostly interesting for me to hear how the residents enjoyed their experience. I observed their emotions as they talked about the curriculum and faculty, their home lives during residency, as well as the interactions between residents. I also observed how my husband interacted with this group of residents. That information was invaluable to me, and I would have never learned tidbits like that from the residency website or even from Scott's recount of his day of interviews.

I heard the residents speak somewhat about their satisfaction in residency choice. All of the residents there were extremely satisfied with their choice and talked about school friends who were unhappy elsewhere in the country. Not to say there is A LOT of choice involved when you go to a residency, since in the end students have to go through Match Day; but students do rank their residencies, and we have heard that family medicine residents are likely to get a higher ranked residency choice. At the end of our dinner, one of the residents said that in his experience, there are two types of applicants - the type to make a spreadsheet in preparation for the Match, and the type that base their decision on gut impressions. *insert sheepish grin

I may or may not have created a spreadsheet for Scott prior to his interviews. Let's be honest, we all knew what group I would be in, and thus what group Scott is in. That same resident recommended to our dinner table that the students use their gut instinct to decide how to rank residencies for the match. What does he know? I had a system.

Actually, after my interview day with Scott, I would 100% agree with that resident.

Those who know me are shocked, I know.

Since I wasn't allowed to be a fly on the wall of the hospital during his interviews, Scott and I talked about every detail on the six hour drive back to Oregon following the interviews. Based on his impressions during the interviews, that residency had exceeded his expectations and went higher up on the list. Still, the most insightful question was "can you visualize yourself being happy in this residency?"

In the end, it doesn't matter if one residency had a six in one column of the spreadsheet and another had a nine - I want to know where he feels like he would fit in best, where he can visualize himself being successful. Because if he comes home happy every day and is excited to go back to work, then I'm happy too. *spreadsheet deleted

13 October 2014

Med School Update: Applying to Residencies

I would like to say here and now that fourth year is no bueno.

Sure, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

In general, though, "the tunnel" hasn't been all that bad... except this last stretch. Why?

1) Because the students of COMP-NW (and many osteopathic medical schools, as well as some allopathic schools) spend the first half of their fourth year traveling to all of the various residencies to which they want to apply. These audition rotations are great for Scott, as he shines in person and is able to get a feel for whether the residency would be a good fit. However, Scott will spend approximately five weeks at home between July and December. That part is no bueno.

2) Applying to residencies is almost exactly like applying to medical school back in the beginning, and that was a big no bueno in my book. Hopefully by the beginning of fourth year (if not earlier) your student has decided how they want to spend the rest of their lives. Then they have to look at all the potential residencies in the United States. Even if your student knows what attributes they like best in a residency, it can be tricky figuring out which residencies would be a good fit for your application (there wasn't a search for sports experience on FREIDA). Is there a sweet spot for number of residencies to apply to? I've heard 10. I've heard 20. Some say apply to them all. It probably depends on the specialty your student has chosen to pursue.

Then you have the essays... Describe - in the most entertaining, but profound manner - why you want to be the bestest doctor in the world. Not that again!

Is this the face of someone who loves writing application essays?

The list of application no Buenos goes on: applications fees, the stress of waiting for invitations to residency interviews, the interviews themselves, THE MATCH!

You get the picture.

3) Fourth year is expensive. Students are still paying tuition, not being paid for working hours, paying to travel for rotations, shelling out applications fees, paying for travel to interviews, paying for travel to boards that can only take place in Pennsylvania... It's a good thing Scott has a sugar mama like me.


Now that I have sufficiently described for you how fourth year is no bueno, and all med students and med school wives should bask in the glory that is Years 1-3...

You should know that we are doing great! Not sarcastic. All things are copasetic. Despite how not cool this year is formatted to be, we've gotten used to some not cool things and have learned to just keep swimming.

In August applications opened for residencies connected to osteopathic medical schools. Scott decided not to apply to any osteopathic residencies. This is not a reflection on the quality of residencies or osteopathic opportunities. He would love to keep up his OMM training. It just so happens that the majority of the residencies Scott has elected to apply for are connected to allopathic medical schools. Since the osteopathic residency match happens before the allopathic residency match this year (supposedly will change in future years); Scott decided that if his top choices were in the allopathic match, he would be better off only applying there. Allopathic residency applications opened in September.

I did a lot of researching on residencies for Scott. We were lucky to find a list of five residencies that were an über good fit for Scott (great sports medicine integration in the curriculum, some with OMM training too). Since Scott felt fairly confident after completing his first audition that he could be accepted into one of his top five choices, we supplemented that initial list with five more (sweet spot of 10?) residencies in the western United States with decent sports experience included in the curriculum.

Because I know you're curious, and because I love maps, here they are:

D.C. is the capital, not a residency. A residency in Hawaii (yes, ma'am!) is that star in the Pacific Ocean.

Interviews will begin in November. Scott has heard back from the residencies where he has already done audition rotations. We are thinking that in some cases auditions may be given first priority for interviews. One of Scott's audition rotations offered for him to go through the interview process before he left, which is a nice way to save on travel expenses... not to mention the effort of taking time off from the rotation he would have be on during interview season. We are still waiting to hear back from most of the residencies to which he applied.

Like I said, all things copasetic.

06 October 2014

A Continuously Growing Campus

West side of COMP-NW campus September 2014

Last month I drove past the opening ceremonies for a veteran's living facility that was built in connection with the Samaritan Health campus. We have been watching that construction for months now, and it is exciting to see the buildings finished.

You can see from my panoramic photo above that the field across from our apartment has had significant construction since we first moved in, back in 2011. The field now contains not only the medical school, but an urgent care facility, events center, bank, a dialysis center, and now across the street by the elementary school is our new veteran's home. Currently under construction on this field is an 84-room hotel, which apparently they will be calling the Boulder Falls Inn.

It has been neat for us to watch the changes in this community. We have felt lucky to be here for four years and to meet so many wonderful friends here.

03 September 2014

Briefly Home

This post is somewhere in between a med school update and just a regular newsletter from me. Scott has been home for a couple weeks, which is amazing for his fourth year of medical school. So many of my fellow fourth year medical school wives are husbandless for months, and of course I will be too again soon. Scott was in Utah and California for much of July and August. He was able to schedule an audition rotation in Corvallis for four weeks as part of his search for the perfect residency. We are halfway through that time now, but I have LOVED having him home.

The weather has been uber hot here in Oregon. So Scott and I have tried to spend time outdoors when he's not at the hospital. This mostly means that I've watched him practice his swing at the driving range or throw a ball around with friends. Yesterday, though I convinced Scott that despite his months of rotations on the coast, that it was worth driving out there for lunch with me. We ate the most scrumptious rockfish and tuna at Local Ocean in Newport, Oregon. Totally worth the drive out there! We walked briefly around the boardwalk and sat in the sun before heading home.

I've also loved having Scott home because he has been treating my strictured Crohn's areas with some osteopathic manual treatment. The last time I was at the hospital, I was told that I had two areas that were narrow because of scar tissue. I have been taking some systemic digestive enzymes to try and break down the dead scar tissue internally. Then Scott has used myofascial release techniques to encourage movement as well. I have seen incredible results from this, and then a healthy diet makes me almost symptom free. Woot woot!

While Scott has been home we have talked about what he is looking for in a residency, and how we can help him develop a list of ten residency choices for his applications. We have a good list of 5-7 residencies so far, but it's tough to find ones that match the qualities he's looking for... plus we would love to stay west, if possible. Even though we have a list of possibilities, Scott will only get to visit two or three in the next few months. So it will be tough for us to rank these residencies for the match.

Applications are submitted this month. Then interviews this fall. Gearing up for more time apart and big decisions to be made.

21 July 2014

Med School Update: Clueless Fourth Years Seeking Advice

This was a common occurrence last year during rotations:

Physician, after asking a difficult anatomy question: What year are you?
Scott: Oh, I'm a third year.

There was great comfort in saying those words - he had just finished two years of book work, and even if he was at the end of his third year and had completed many rotations and "pimping sessions" (where the doctor grills the med student with complex questions on disease function or drugs), he still had an excuse for not knowing the answer... or by knowing the answer, he was some how more impressive.

That excuse is gone.

And fourth year can be intimidating. Some audition rotations give their fourth year students great responsibility because the next year they will be doctors charged with the care of patients. On the other hand, some audition rotation sites will have plenty of interns (first year residents), residents, fellows, and faculty who have received their doctor status. Fourth year students are then merely given the opportunity to shadow. No matter what the experience is, in audition rotations the student has a glimpse of what their working life would be like if they were a resident there.

Even though we've begun fourth year, the schedule and process of fourth year medical students is still so mysterious to me. There is little to no direction from the school (Scott may receive emails from the school's rotation office, but that rarely gets relayed to me). The decision of where to do audition rotations and where to fulfill school rotation requirements is all up to the student. Scheduling of those rotations is all up to the residency hospital systems, so your fourth year schedule is at the mercy of every residency coordinator.

When do you start applying to residencies? When are interviews supposed to occur? How does the match really work (in layman terms, please)?

This is about the time when I really wish there was a class ahead of us, and I could have spent the last few years watching them mess up and learning from their mistakes. Alas, we are the first graduating class on this campus.

Using my finely honed research skills, I have found some helpful articles linked below. But truly, if someone out there has gone through this mysterious process and can offer advice, I would be overjoyed to read said advice.

Applying for Residencies
AAMC: The Cost of Applying for Medical Residency
NRMP Match: Tips and Reminders
AAMC: Roadmap to Residency

Residency Interviews
DIT: When Should I Schedule Interviews?
DIT: 6 Tips for Residency Interviews
Chief Resident Interview Tips
Interview Stream (Resource offered to students at COMP-NW)

UPDATE POSTS: Residency applications

18 July 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Jenny

I really appreciate that Jenny was willing to share some of her story. Even though Jenny and Terryol are no longer together, she is likely his best cheerleader.

Every time I see Jenny in town she exudes courage, patience, and kindness. I am so impressed with all that she's accomplished, and we are extremely lucky to include her in our medical school journey!

Q: What are your responsibilities this last year while your med student was on rotation?

A: I continue to live my dream job of being a homeschooling mom.

Q: How are you preparing for residencies?

A: I have been decluttering (inside and out), finishing projects/books or passing them along. That way I will not be as intimidated if we end up needing to move.

I have had more exercise opportunities this past year. I always bike but that was about all Lebanon had (for my interests) until the pool opened several classes and opportunities enabling kids to swim while moms workout. We even got coached in masters swimming sessions for about 6 months! Being healthy and happy is the only preparation I think we really have any significant control over.

I have been surprised how tentative 4th year really is and admire all those that have already moved knowing their original homes are the best base camp for them. We are exited graduation will be here momentarily - this whole process really does go by quickly. 

Q: Any advice SOs beginning third year?

A: Make sure you have some worthwhile hobbies/projects going on so that your oil lamp/joy stays full.

14 July 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Alyssa

Alyssa is a first time contributor to our little perspectives game, but the more the merrier I say. Everyone's family has unique circumstances, especially during third and fourth year of medical school. Each perspective helps me to see what I can do to better support my student and what I might expect in the future. Thank you for sharing, Alyssa!

Q: What are your responsibilities this last year while your med student was on rotation?

A: We have 4 kids ranging in ages from nine year- old to a one year-old, so my day was pretty much just keeping up with them and all their activities -from soccer practices to guitar lessons, church activities, and homework. Their schedules kept me pretty busy. Then there is all the housework, laundry, planning and cooking meals etc. Because Zach was gone a lot, I am also in charge of financial aid for him, taxes, benefits, and insurance for our family.

Q: What did you do differently in year three to support your med student?

A: The same as the last two years, just let him tell me his schedule and what he has to do. To make it easier on myself I would tell myself he is not going to be able to make it to most things and if he is able to show up it's a bonus. That way he is able to study for shelf exams and keep up with the quizzes and coursework that goes with each rotation.

The BIG extra thing for me was I made cupcakes for each rotation site he was at to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped him. I made enough for his preceptors and office staff at each rotation. It was a way for the preceptors to remember him, and it helped grease the wheels when he asked them to write letters of recommendation. I usually made them in week 3 of the rotation.

Q: What surprised you about clinical rotations?

A: How much he was still gone. You think it's going to be better because EVERYONE says third year is better (which it is to a point) but they still have quizzes and assignments with every rotation.  Depending on the preceptor you get, there is a LOT of on-call weekends and nights. For us it was PEDS, OB and IM that were the rotations that he was gone the most. He also had to leave for two months to do two rotations on the coast (surgery and family medicine).

Then there is didactic week every 12 weeks where there are practical and written exams, so the students are of course cramming for those.

 The biggest change I saw for positive was actually in Zach. He was happier and not so beat down and mentally tired. They are finally actually practicing medicine in a clinical setting. They aren't sitting in a classroom for 8+ hours and then studying to all hours of the night on top of that. 

Q: How are you preparing for residencies?

A: I think our situation is a little bit different because we have 4 kids...and they are older. We have to think about their needs as well as what is best for Zach. Obviously we wanted Zach to have the best residency possible, but with also the best possible situation for our kids as well.

So we looked up all the DO OB/GYN rotations...Zach looked at the programs and what they offered as far as education and training. My job was to look at everything else. I looked at pay, vacation time, benefits, perks (malpractice insurance, paid CE, paid license fees etc), and cost of housing. Housing and pay were a big one. Some of the residencies sounded great...but it was in downtown Detroit and the pay wasn't that great. $42K a year with 4 kids would have us living in the ghetto...that's all we would be able to afford. So we tried to find the balance...where could we afford to live that was safe for our kids, but get Zach a great residency education.

Then Zach ranked them and stating in December started trying to set up auditions. Most don't open up until January, and with most if not all of his residency auditions you HAVE to be persistent and DOUBLE CHECK and DOUBLE confirm EVERYTHING! Often he talked to many different people, and one person would say he was ʺpenciled inʺ for a certain time period...Zach wouldn't get an email, so he would call next week and the department head would not know a thing about it.

Q: Any advice SOs beginning third year?

A: Don't expect a ton of one on one time with your student. They still have lots of work and their schedule depends entirely on their preceptor. Make some sort of treat for the preceptors and staff. It's very much appreciated, and it really helps them remember you. Zach is known as the cupcake guy. Everyone was very excited when they found out he was rotating through their office. :)

11 July 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Maren

Thank you, Maren! I'm so glad you were convinced to write again this year. Maren is also one of my brave friends having posted from our 1st year and 2nd year.

Maren and her family had some unexpected changes this last year, but from what I've heard they found a great settling place.

Q: What are your responsibilities this last year while your med student was on rotation?

A: Almost everything having to do with our household, except for car maintenance and getting the trash to the curb and being an involved dad. It was only recently that I thought to ask Jared to pitch in more around the house, even though he's had more time for the last year.

Q: What did you do differently in year three to support your med student?

A: I have helped/(nagged?) him to set up rotations and offered him a quiet hour every night to study while I deal with the kids. He really hasn't needed much from me and has mostly tried to offer me more support this year since he has more time to do so.

Q: What surprised you about clinical rotations?

A: How much of a positive change there was in Jared's attitude once he was off campus and back in the real world working, and how much more time he had compared to 2nd year. Also, it was fun and surprising to see Jared's strengths discovered through his different experiences, and it surprised me how quickly he knew, when he started each rotation, whether he loved, hated, or felt indifferent about that area of medicine.

Q: How are you preparing for residencies?

A: We are mentally preparing to have a pretty horrible next few years. Jared is rotating with three different residency hospitals with the Air Force, because he's hoping to get an Air Force residency. We tried to choose the hospitals with the most likelihood of him getting the residency according to the number of new residents they accept each year. We don't really care where we go, although we'd prefer to be in the West, because we figure there will be pros and cons to each place. We just want Jared to get a residency that he will feel good about.

Q: Any advice SOs beginning third year?

A: Don't go too crazy with the extra time-- try to help your spouse continue to have a study schedule (albeit a lighter one) for step 2 boards. And stay organized with what needs to get done when, and how you need to prepare for 4th year/residency application. Also, relish the year! 4th year is not quite so fun with away audition rotations, and then comes the dreaded residency.

09 July 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Tabetha

Tabetha is one of only a few brave souls who have offered their perspectives each year on my blog. I'm so glad she did, because her perspective shows that we all have different paths on this medical school journey, and we each need to find the best method for supporting and maneuvering this system that works best for our family.

During the first two years of medical school, Tabetha was a flight attendant and was constantly on the go. Then as you might remember from last year's post, Tabetha's husband and medical student, Brian, was accepted to be an OMM fellow in his third year. That is quite the honor and CV builder! His schedule was thus quite different from other third year students. Click on the following links to read Tabetha's posts from our 1st year and 2nd year.

Q: What are your responsibilities this last year while your med student was on rotation?

A: This year was very different for us from past years. To start, a wonderful opportunity presented itself, and I was fortunate to change jobs. My last trip flying was in September, and on October 1st I started a new job where I was able to stay home! This was a huge change for us in my schedule. While I am now home more, I am actually significantly busier than I was and it has been much more difficult for me to manage taking care of everything (laundry, groceries, cooking, cleaning, etc.) on my own. Brian and I split just about everything when it comes to chores. In May, my sister moved in with us (she is applying to medical school this year), and since moving in she has been a huge help with cooking and cleaning!

Q: What did you do differently in year three to support your med student?

A: Year three has been both easier and harder for my med student husband. It all boils down to the rotation he's on. Some rotations he LOVES, which makes life very easy! Certain rotations have been very hard on him. Whether it was simply a specialty he didn't enjoy or a preceptor who has long since forgotten what it's like to be a 3rd year med student... these rotations took forever to end. During these rotations I had to be extra understanding and supportive when Brian would come home grumpy, or sad, or mad, or any number of emotions. During years 1 and 2 I could usually anticipate when he would need extra support (the week before a test), but since rotations were constantly changing I was never sure what I would get!

Q: What surprised you about clinical rotations?

A: Since we have many friends who are ahead of us in the med school game i don't feel anything really caught me off guard when it came to rotations. I suppose the only thing that really surprised me was how much Brian disliked certain rotations. I anticipated he'd come home from every rotation thinking ʺthis is it!ʺ but in fact he came more often than not saying ʺthis is NOT it!ʺ

Q: How are you preparing for residencies?

A: Since Brian was accepted into the Fellowship program we are actually behind a year. While we have and continue to discuss residency possibilities, we still have a little more time to begin applying for audition rotations as he won't be doing those until Fall 2015.

For us, location is definitely important. We have previously spent time living in an area we didn't like and know how detrimental it can be to hate where you live. Ideally we would LOVE to stay on the West Coast (no farther east then Denver), but unfortunately there just aren't enough residency programs on the west coast for us to put all our eggs in one basket. A lot of our time has been spent discussing the ʺwhat ifsʺ and where in the Midwest and on the East Coast we think we would be happy should we end up there.

Of course, program is important too, and there are some programs Brian will apply to even if it's somewhere we don't necessarily want to live. We just have to tell ourselves over and over--it's only temporary!

Q: Any advice SOs beginning third year?

A: Keep an open mind! Anything can happen! It is very possible your student doctor will fall in love with a rotation they had never considered or end up hating a rotation they were convinced was ʺThe Oneʺ.

As I've said in years past, continue to communicate! It is so important for couples to discuss everything! Talk about the future, keep an open mind, and enjoy every second! It goes by so much faster than you realize!

07 July 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Morgan

I miss Morgan!

I didn't realize when we started this medical school journey, that after the first two years of book work our good friends would move away. I always imagined our medical school family sticking together for four years supporting each other with vent sessions and date nights. We were lucky to have Morgan, Chase and Colt nearby for most of the year. They moved farther away at the end of this year so that Morgan could be near family while her husband is traveling in Year 4.

Morgan always gives great advice in her perspective posts. You can read Morgan's perspective from Year 2 by clicking on this link.

Q: What are your responsibilities this last year while your med student was on rotation?

A: Taking care of my crazy one year old. Keeping up with the house, groceries, cooking, etc. I took over paying all of the bills this year, just to make things easier and make sure nothing gets missed. I did most the packing and unpacking for our moves. And most important being supportive!

Q: What did you do differently in year three to support your med student?

A: I don't feel like I did much different. We did talk more about the future and discuss the pros and cons of different specialties and different residencies. Chase said that having me be as excited as he is about residency and the future has been a great motivation and support for him.

Q: What surprised you about clinical rotations?

A: First of all, I didn't know that we would have to be moving, but we ended up loving our home base city.

It was interesting to see how different each rotation was. Some rotations I got to see my husband a lot more and other rotations he was gone pretty much everyday for very long days.

My favorite part of rotations was seeing the excitement my husband had. He was so happy to be out of the classroom using the knowledge he had gained and then trying to learn everything he could from the rotations. It was great to know that all this work, sacrifice, and time was all going to be worth it because I was able to see that he is going to love his job when it is all said and done!

Q: How are you preparing for residencies?

A: Right now we have really scaled down our spending and are budgeting so when graduation comes we will be able to make our loan payments and pay that off as quickly as possible.

As far as considerations for audition rotations... Chase wants to do Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, & Throat). That really narrowed down residency locations. There aren't very many DO ENT residencies. From there we researched online the different residency programs. There was a helpful forum on Student-Doctor Network where students had shared their audition rotation experience. Once we had narrowed it down, Chase got in contact with a current resident from the programs he was really interested in and asked them questions. Another big consideration was how many residents they take each year. A lot of the ENT Residencies only take one each year so Chase made sure to set up audition rotations with the ones that take 2 or more each year.

Q: Any advice SOs beginning third year?

A: Try to not compare your journey with others'. Dream about the future - it's motivating! Support the other SOs - we need all the support we can get! Do something fun when your husband has time off!

03 July 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Megan

Megan's picture, June 2014: Waking Up from Naps is Hard to Do
Thank you to Megan who was brave enough to provide her perspective again this year! You can read her Year 2 perspective blog post by clicking here.

Megan and Devin moved to Medford in June of last year, and happened to live just down the street from my parents. Medford was their home base for year three, with the majority of Devin's rotations scheduled in Southern Oregon. Scott and I were able to see their family every time we went down to visit my parents. It also came in handy to have my parents down the street when Megan went into labor while Devin was in Lebanon for the second didactic week. Yeah, really!

Now Megan has moved to Utah to be with family while Devin is traveling for audition rotations. We will miss having them somewhat close for visits!

Q: What are your responsibilities this last year while your med student was on rotation?

A: Cleaning, cooking, making lunches, being pregnant, taking care of a rambunctious 3 year old, taking the dog for walks, giving birth (all alone, I might add), caring for a newborn and not sleeping at all- ever. It's been a great year! It really has :)

Q: What did you do differently in year three to support your med student?

A: Raised two kids instead of one...

Actually, I didn't change too much when it came to supporting Devin on a day-to-day basis. I still would make his lunch, when needed, and make sure he had uninterrupted study time at night.

Q: What surprised you about clinical rotations?

A: The amount of time that Devin had to ʺworkʺ each month varied greatly with which rotation he was on. When considering which specialty we wanted to pursue we were told to choose the lifestyle we wanted and then look at what specialties fit that. The clinical rotations were really able to give us a good feel of what type of lifestyle fit our family.

Q: How are you preparing for residencies?

A: We were a little late in the game when it came to finding away rotations. We were waffling between specialties and really didn't feel 100% good about any of our choices. So we finally had to sit down and write out a game plan and stick to it. Because we were late in the game with audition rotations, we really just had to take what we could. And, even though we don't absolutely love the locations of his away rotations, we figure it will be a good experience, anyways. And who knows, maybe he will fall in love with one of the places! But if not, there's always interviews at other locations.

Q: Any advice SOs beginning third year?

A: Try to decide on a specialty early in the year. Use your elective rotations wisely! If you are going for a competitive specialty look into research. If you think you may have an interest in one specialty but your clinical rotation is way late in the year (April/May) you may consider using one of your elective rotations and doing that specialty then. Just, utilize your elective rotations. :)

01 July 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Shelli

I am so glad that Shelli was willing to share her perspective again this year. (You can read her first year perspective by clicking on this link.) Shelli is a wonderful mama, an amazing cook, and she has a wonderful voice as a writer. She is also the perfect support for her husband, Eldon, while he studies through medical school.

Q: What are your responsibilities this last year while your med student was on rotation?

A: What WEREN'T my responsibilities? :) No, Eldon did a lot, I'm just teasing. He went to work, studied like crazy wherever he was - hospital, clinic, home, whatever - and still managed to be a great daddy and even help me with the dishes whenever he was home to eat with us.

But I did a lot.

I cooked three meals most days, trying to avoid processed, refined foods. I washed laundry, and usually folded it. I cleaned the bathroom (note that we only had ONE bathroom), kitchen, floors, cars, every living space, and every single one of my kids' messes. I changed about a gazillion diapers, some from our infant and some from our toddler. I changed the sheets when what should have happened in a diaper happened in a bed. I handled paperwork. Insurance, healthcare, and everything else that could go wrong.

I took care of three darling little girls. Eldon would come home and be a daddy, playing and laughing with them, which I was delighted to see. I couldn't be their daddy. But I did pretty much everything else for them most of the time. Like 95% of the time. Eh, 98%.

I packed Eldon lunches, ironed his clothes, and just tried to be helpful. If there was anything I could take off his plate I tried to do it. I was happy to do it. Every minute he wasn't doing some kind of errand meant he could spend it with us.

But through all of these things and everything else I can't think of at the moment, I don't believe I did more for our family than he did. We're in this together and I think the workload is as even as it could possibly be.
Q: What did you do differently in year three to support your med student?

A: I think mostly I did the same things I usually did, but I got to see him way, way less often than before. That's what made it harder. I can do anything if he's there to hold me at the end of the day.

Q: What surprised you about clinical rotations?

A: I was surprised by how much Eldon actually got to DO. I thought he'd be in more of an observe and assist kind of role, but he did practically everything his preceptors did.

I was also surprised how much rotations changed what he thought he'd like to do. He was considering cardiology or radiology going into third year, but by the end he had fallen in love with surgery!

Q: How are you preparing for residencies?

A: We're preparing for residency in ways I hadn't anticipated. We decided to live with Eldon's parents in Mesa, because he would be gone so much (like working out of state, gone, not just working long hours, gone). Eldon wanted me to have a support team to help with our kids, and I wanted to save money and avoid paying double and triple rent when he was away.

We've been kind of picky about actual residency locations, because Eldon wanted to do as many surgical rotations as he could. So while he could find lots of other specialty rotations closer to home, he's going all over the country for surgery. As long as we settle for residency in a big city (two years in tiny, far-from-everything Lebanon almost killed me) I will be content.

*A note to those in the military: Eldon scheduled two military rotations - the maximum allowed - because we hope to do a military residency because the pay and the range of experiences are usually better. If we aren't matched to a military residency we are considering doing an intern year. That way, even though we lose a year that doesn't count toward fulfilling our commitment to the military, he will most likely get his pick for residency the following year. Those applicants with an intern year are generally considered first before those who came straight from graduation. We'll see how it goes.

Q: Any advice SOs beginning third year?

A:Find a project you can pour your heart into. It might be your job or your kids or whatever, but make sure you have something you enjoy putting lots of hours into. If your med student is gone all the time, and you're just sitting at home waiting for them you'll be miserable, or resentful, or both.

Also, Eldon kept a little journal of each of his rotations so he would remember details, especially about the way he was feeling during each one. When you look back at the end of the year and try to decide which specialty to pick you might be surprised how easily they blend together or how many critical details you forget. Eldon dismissed surgery initially, but when we looked at our notes and talked together we realized it was the happiest he ever was. No other rotation made him as excited to get out the door in the morning as surgery, and that wasn't something we would have realized just looking at the facts and statistics of each one.

Make a commitment to value your relationship more than any of the irritations or problems that come up. My goodness, there were times I wanted to run away and not stop until I reached Canada. There are so many things that might potentially drive you insane about this third year. In an effort to make me feel like Eldon and I actually lived in the same world, I would find things to celebrate. The ends of each rotation, getting high honors after a hard rotation, or even just silly things like National Pie Day. It seemed too easy to just put our heads down and just endure this year, finding little things to celebrate together helped us lift our eyes and see each other every now and then.

That all being said, we enjoyed third year more than any other year so far. Well, socially we preferred being close to our med school friends, but Eldon enjoyed rotations much much MUCH more than classes. That was exciting for both of us because we thought, "Oh good, this might actually be worth it in the end!" :)

27 June 2014

Yr 3 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Me

This third year of medical school has been a whirlwind tour! If you read my previous posts about each of Scott's rotations, you know that Scott was often away from home this year. I knew when we started year three that this would be the case, so I aimed at keeping myself busy. I MORE than achieved that goal.

My Responsibilities
Scott and I selected the Samaritan Health System track as his first choice for rotations during year three so that we wouldn't have to move and I could keep my beloved job. This worked out great for us, and I continue to work full-time in Corvallis. In addition to working full-time, I increased my credit hours in order to graduate from my MBA program on June 12! Increasing my academic load was a tough addition for me this year. Taking MBA two classes per term while working full-time was a bit of a stretch. While it certainly kept me busy, I had little time to deal with the organization of my home or get a chance to relax with Scott when he was home on the weekends. I was studying just as much as he was this last year. Words can't describe the relief I now have in my new degree. There has been much reading of fiction!

On top of academic chaos, this past year I've discovered how nutrition plays a part in my autoimmune disease, and I've focused on preparing healthy meals and snacks to keep me full and satisfied. For those of you who also try to eat healthy on a budget, you can back me up when I say that it is a huge time commitment. It has really paid off, though, because I am feeling (and looking, if I do say so for myself) much better.

Supporting My Husband During Year 3
While I was preoccupying myself with school and health, I slacked a little in my support for Scott. When he was home, I made sure he had food to take for lunches and that most of the housework was done. However, Scott also had a bit more free time on his hands (depending on the rotation). So I also started expecting more from him at home. He still isn't used to having these responsibilities. I have reminded him of how he can help me so that I am not overwhelmed by housework while he is home. Scott spent his evenings after work studying for the next day's patients and end of rotation tests, but he usually had more time to spend with me.

When Scott was traveling for his rotations, we would talk on the phone nightly about his experiences that day. Occasionally I would get a chance to visit Scott wherever he was, but more often he came home to visit me (and play flag football) on the weekends. It wasn't difficult for me to handle Scott's frequent travel, but I only needed to care for myself. We don't have any little ones at home.

This third year of clinical rotations is designed to give the medical students exposure to all different specialties in medicine and begin a portfolio of work experience for your residency of choice. Luckily I had done a ton of research in year one and two about residencies, how to apply, what experience and board scores would be needed because I had little time to research in year three when it was needed. I was able to guide Scott through the process of selecting residencies for audition rotations and applications when he didn't feel a lot of direction from his school staff. On our nightly phone conversations, I would ask him how he felt about the specialty he was shadowing and if he had contacted any locations that day to schedule audition rotations for year four. I'm not sure if that helped or added pressure for Scott, but it sure made me feel better.

Rotations Surprises
I think one surprise for me during this third year was that one rotation didn't clearly stand above the rest. Since Scott didn't go into this clinical year with a residency specialty in mind, I had imagined that he would recognize a clear winner during his rotations. I've heard so many stories of student doctors who, for example, thought they wanted to go into Emergency Medicine going into year three, and ended up loving Pediatrics. Scott enjoyed almost every specialty he shadowed, so he went with his initial impression. From the beginning of medical school Scott has had a desire to work with athletes in sports medicine. So the direction he is taking in year four is along those lines.

Preparations for Residencies
I tried to write about our preparations for residencies a couple weeks ago and struggled. Even though Scott and I know how to schedule audition rotations (click on this link to read more about scheduling audition rotations) and begin the process for residency applications, two weeks ago we still hadn't heard back from most of the programs to confirm dates. At the time, Scott was pondering what he might do if his selected audition rotations fell through. After our freak-out, Scott emailed and called all of his rotations for the umpteenth time. The next day all but one that were in the works were calendared.

On top of that, we had an experience similar to what happened when we selected medical schools for applications. Scott was having a conversation with one of his school buddies when his buddy mentioned two residencies that sounded like a great fit for Scott 's sports medicine dreams. We hadn't even considered these particular residencies because we really didn't know much about them. Scott was able to contact both of the sites last minute and schedule audition rotations to miraculously fill his audition calendar through November.

Separate from audition rotations that typically happen in the fall in preparation for the spring match, core rotations need to be completed as part of the school's fourth year requirements. These core rotations typically happen in the winter/spring as you are applying and waiting for match results. Scott is planning on working with the school rotations office to schedule these necessary core rotations in the Corvallis area and maybe a couple in Medford.

Advice for Significant Others Beginning Year 3
In year three all the rotations are planned out for your medical student, and there is a chance that you will get to see them more often. Take advantage of this time during year three... because come year four your medical student will be traveling the country for weeks at a time auditioning for residencies. While I can't talk from experience yet, at this moment I'm planning on Scott being gone for the better part of July through November.

Then, during year three brace yourself for some uncertainty. For us, at COMP-NW, the scheduling of year four rotations is on your own for the most part. Your student will need to decide which residencies to contact and how to arrange the entire year schedule of rotations. Not to mention the uncertainty of the match... but let's save that for another day, since even I am in denial about the match. We'll try to handle the second board exams and audition rotations, first.

23 June 2014

Med School Update: Last Didactic Week

Picture from COMP-NW Facebook page
The fourth and final didactic week of Scott's third year was poorly organized. I had thought for sure, as I'm sure other families did, that this would not be a complete week on campus.

Typical didactic weeks have the first and second days scheduled for Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs, clinical exams with actor patients). Then the third day of the week is for testing on rotations just completed. Then typically the last two days of didactic week include preparation by faculty for the upcoming rotation block and any administrative meetings for the medical student class.

This final didactic week had OSCEs on Monday and Tuesday, tests on Wednesday, nothing on Thursday, and a mandatory meeting on Friday (for the Oregon campus only). Scott had his OSCE on Tuesday, which meant that he had nothing scheduled for Monday or Thursday. This is okay for us, since we live across the street from the school. Most students, though, are driving every day that they need to be on campus from either their third-year home base, or their fourth year home base city. After this didactic week some students drove home to U-haul to their fourth year home base city.

Since there was unscheduled time during the week, you would think that the school would make more efficient use of student time to allow them to prepare for fourth year audition rotations and board exams... either by hosting administrative meetings twice for students not in OSCEs or by offering for students to view the mandatory information online (not out of the norm for this program, where half of the lectures are filmed on the Pomona campus). It sounds like the mandatory lecture was for both second and third year students, to show off the third year students experience and knowledge. If this were the case, I'm sure selected student representatives would have been willing to attend on behalf of the entire class.

Rant over.

Third year over. Wahoo!

18 June 2014

Med School Update: Cardiology

This rotation fulfilled the schools IM3 requirement, which is the more specialized Internal Medicine rotation. I was very fortunate to have Scott back at home this rotation, as he rotated through the Cardiology outpatient unit in Corvallis.

While he rotated through the Cardiology unit, he saw a cardiac catheter procedure, treadmill stress tests,  nerve ablations, and pacemaker replacements. He said he heard heart murmurs on a daily basis. Typical cases that came through the unit included coronary artery disease, myocardial infarctions, heart failure, and arrhythmias.

Scott also was asked to prepare a presentation on the cardiac manifestations of infectious disease, which he presented to his preceptor and unit staff during the last few days of his rotation.

During this rotation, one of the cardiologists Scott was working with gave him a wonderful compliment. He told Scott that he would make a great cardiologist and encouraged him to pursue it as a specialty.

It is so nice to hear stories like that. Scott has worked very hard on all of his rotations to be informed about patient cases the evening before. He studies specialty topics during the evenings and prepares for his school quizzes. One of Scott's greatest strengths in becoming a doctor is his personable nature. He loves to get to know his preceptors and nurses and has good rapport with patients. This rotation had extra responsibility for Scott; in addition to his normal specialty preparations, Scott has also had to use this rotation to begin studying for his second board exams.

Next up: the final didactic week of year three and board exams!

16 June 2014

I am an MBA Grad

One class per term for two years, while working full time.
Two classes per term this last year, while working full time, to finish up the program.
Three classes that I could have done without. (just sayin')
One global operations case presentation and forty page paper.
One graduate oral exam administered by a faculty committee.
Sixteen graduate-level business classes completed...
One master's degree earned.

After a demanding four year process, I can now officially add the letters M, B, and A to my resume. I am extremely grateful that my family and my job supported me in getting my graduate degree. I was incredibly fortunate to come into this program with an outstanding undergraduate business background. The program at BYU-Idaho is graduate level worthy. So I consider these last four years as continuing education and formalizing the MBA mind I already had.

My parents and Scott's parents came up to celebrate with us. I elected not to participate in the four hour commencement ceremony held at Oregon State's Reser Stadium. However, we did attend the reception for all MBA graduates hosted by the Business Department during finals week (after my last final was over). The reception included an honor's society induction ceremony and presentation of graduates. I had a lovely cheering section to celebrate with me!

It still feels a bit surreal. I'm so used to busying myself in the evenings reading business textbooks and editing group papers that I'll likely wake up in a week from an awful group project nightmare. Maybe after that my brain will accept the fact that I have completed a graduate program.

To help me adjust, you can feel free to address me as Master from here on out.

11 June 2014

Celebrating My Imminent Degree

Last week, Scott and I attended a senior send off party at OSU for all graduating students. Yes, I am practically walking down the aisle to receive my diploma as you read this. I'm happy to say that last night I finished my FINAL final in the OSU MBA program! Unless I completely bombed the test, this girl will have a graduate degree this week. *cue the fanfare*

So of course I was excited to celebrate my imminent degree by dressing up for a 1920's themed graduation party hosted by the alumni association. Scott was so excited to have an excuse to wear his fedora that he wore the hat out to dinner before we went to the party. Of course it wasn't weird at all for Scott to be wearing a suit and fedora in a public restaurant...

The senior send off event was pretty fun, though it was a bit chaotic. The party was basically a large casino, set up with blackjack and roulette tables. The alumni association provided fake money to all the graduates and their guests. They had a DJ, drinks, photo booth, and prizes.

We stayed two hours and only played one game, roulette, because by the time we figured out how to play any of the casino games, the alumni center was packed with hundreds of graduates and all the game tables were full. We had each been given 1000 fake dollars. Being naïve to gambling strategy, Scott and I decided we would not play for prizes bur rather until we were no longer interested.

We learned to play roulette from one of the table dealers. I think this casino company was used to smaller parties, as opposed to hundreds of college students, full tables of guests, waiting players, and roulette chips/markers in addition to the house money chips used throughout the event. Our table dealer was pleasant, despite the chaos.

At one point in the evening, a rowdy group of young men came up to the table and asked to exchange their play money for higher value chips. Our table dealer readily supplied them with those chips, and the boys laid most of them down to be lost. After the round was over they soon disappeared, without cashing out back to house money chips. Once our dealer finally noticed they were gone, he cleared out their space for others to join.

About two hours after the party began, we were starting to feel overwhelmed with the atmosphere and ready to go home. We decided to go all in and either bank our winnings into prize tickets or go pretend-broke and head home. The same rowdy boys returned suddenly with STACKS of their color marker chips and said, "Do you remember we had our chips for $100 each? Well we're here to play again."

Our dealer was so flustered with all the random bets on the table, including all our casino chips which we had cashed in order to go all in. Scott and I instinctively knew that the boys chips could not have come from our table, but we were also flustered by what was going on. I wish I would have said something, like "Excuse me, but you will have to take those game markers back to the table you came from. Only the casino chips are transferrable between tables." But I didn't. I let it play out, because I still wasn't completely certain that they had not won the chips at our table and mistakenly taken them away.

But really, I knew. I had that feeling. I knew by their demeanor that they were trying to game the system and make a profit. What they said when they came back to the table was probably the clearest sign that they were trying to get back into good graces instead of resuming normal play. If the event had been more organized, these boys wouldn't have even been able to move the chips from table to table in the first place.

I regret not saying anything in the moment, pointing out the ethical violation of these soon-to-be-graduates, but luckily karma came to my rescue. They lost all of their chips by chance that very same round.

We lost too, as it so happened. I guess karma kicked us a little too for our sin of omission. We didn't feel the loss of our play money, though. We happily drove home to rest for the evening.

Remind me again why OSU doesn't require an ethics course in their business programs?

27 May 2014

Med School Update: Elective

This was Scott's second elective of his third year (to read a summary of his first elective click here). He was pretty fortunate to have this opportunity to schedule another elective. Originally, he had considered doing a rotation with a sport medicine group in Portland. As we approached the planning phase for his fourth year, I convinced Scott that he should really consider doing a rotation in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) with a physician who completed their residency in a program that Scott is considering applying to. By going that route, he could get inside information on the residency program, how it would prepare him for a career, and maybe even get a letter of recommendation. Good plan, right?

Scott lucked out in arranging a PM&R rotation in Bend, Oregon with a group of physicians who were former residents of UC Davis' program. In fact, Scott was told that his preceptor helped create the PM&R residency at UC Davis. He followed several physiatrists with connections to UC Davis. They directed Scott to look at jobs on the AAPM&R website.

While on rotation in Bend, Scott was privileged to help with many musculoskeletal patient cases.He saw patients who came to the client after work accidents and car accidents. Scott followed "like 15" physicians, from physiatrists to orthopedic surgeons. He didn't shadow any surgeries, just clinic days. Scott did get to help one of the physiatrists with injections. He also shadowed EMGs, which are nerve conduction tests.

It was certainly helpful for Scott to have this rotation before he begins applying for audition rotations and residencies. He is still considering PM&R residencies and Family Medicine residencies, but after this rotation he may apply for orthopedic surgery residencies. Scott is not the typical orthopedic applicant, but he really enjoys the time he spent in that specialty. It wouldn't hurt to submit his name and do an audition rotation.

His interest in PM&R makes the fourth year match a bit tricky. This may be one of the last years that allopathic and osteopathic residency matches happen on different days. The osteopathic residency match happens first, so students know whether or not they matched into a DO residency but not the MD residencies. Scott is planning to apply for PM&R residencies, which are all be allopathic (MD). If he is matched with a DO program (Family Medicine or Orthopedic Surgery) first, Scott will need to decide if he that is his future before he even hears MD match results. A potentially tough spot to be!

24 April 2014

Moonlit Nights

I don't normally participate in Throwback Thursdays, but I was reminded of this embarrassing childhood throwback recently and figured I would finally admit to my cheesiness.

From age 5 to maybe 10, I would listen to this song on repeat before going to bed.

It was a cassette tape with the solo on both sides. So when I say I listened to it on repeat, I mean that I would literally scoot to the bottom of my bed, in our Edgecumbe Drive house, every three minutes to flip the tape in my little player for the half hour before I fell asleep. Too bad I wore that tape to shreds, because its now worth $50 on Amazon!

The more embarrassing part of this memory is that I recall crying during the song. Not sure what it was about Mickey and Minnie the Mice that made me sad, or romantic, or something as a five-year-old. Maybe I was really dreaming about being in a soda shop quartet someday.

I'm a bit surprised that I could even find this track on YouTube, but it must have been a favorite of many. There are videos posted of recitals and talent shows, not to mention one mother who had memorized the song as a lullaby for her baby. I can't say I still know the lyrics, though.

My parents like to remind me occasionally about this childhood addiction... THAT, and how many times they had to sit through It's A Small World at Disney World. So glad I could torture you with Disney, Mom and Dad! Maybe someday my kids will return the favor, probably with this techno version.

21 April 2014

Med School Update: Surgery

Yeah, that's a pig's foot.
This is one of the rotations where being an anatomy tutor and putting in the extra work before med school in ISAC came in handy for Scott. Surgeons are known for "pimping" (asking ridiculously difficult questions, on the spot) students on anatomy during procedures. Most students are intimidated by this. Scott was actually intimidated too, at first. Once he got in the operating room though, he found that he wanted the physicians to ask more questions to challenge him. He liked it enough that he contemplated a general surgery residency. He thrived in OR where knowing your anatomy is possibly your greatest asset. He also enjoyed participating in procedures. His love of surgery was diminished by the hours kept by surgeons and their frequent on-call status.

Scott participated in colonoscopies, a thyroidectomy, bowel resections of Crohn's Disease (um hmm), appendectomies, a circumcision for an 80 year old (um hmm)... the list goes on. He had one surgery day where they operated all day and he didn't get home until after 11:30 Pm! Don't feel bad for him, though. He also had short days on Fridays and got to come home early for weekend football... um, I mean to see me.

Scott swapped his time between the operating room and working with his preceptor in the clinic. I always imagine the tv show, House, when he would describe those afternoons.When he came home for the weekends, he would bring home surgery homework... suturing.

During conference weekend, I came home from work to find a pigs foot on my coffee table. "It's okay, honey," Scott tried to console me. "It's for science." He cut and sewed that pigs foot all weekend long, at which time I made him take it out in the trash.

14 April 2014

What's Working for Me

It seems like once a month I’m telling my mom, “Once I added in ___________/took out ________ you wouldn’t believe the difference it made.” I’ve been on this elimination diet journey for almost a year now, and I’m still figuring out what my body is reacting to and how it reacts, not to mention what “advice” to take seriously. There are so many sites out there claiming they have the one diet or method that will cure whatever ails you. The more I read the more I realize that we don’t value enough what we put in our bodies and each of our bodies will react differently. I’ve gotten better at recognizing the signals my body is giving to me, but it’s still too much of a guessing game.

As I said, I’ve been working at this for almost a year, but I feel like I’ve made some really good progress in the last three months. At the end of the year, I realized that I hadn’t taken care of myself as I should have during the holidays. For 30 days, starting in January, I ate a GAPS Intro diet. When those 30 days were over, I started testing some foods that I had allergic reactions and digestion problems with previously. I haven’t noticed a problem adding back some starches like steel cut oats, yams, and sweet potatoes. Inflammation responses in my body are still on high alert, though. It seems like I have a rash when I eat some nuts and nightshade vegetables/seasonings. Dairy makes me congested. While I don’t seem to have any pain eating real sourdough bread, I think the gluten might be affecting my bowel movements (TMI?). And processed sugar, does something… it not helping, that’s for sure. Like I said, digestion = guessing game.

All this is still a vast improvement from where I was before this all charade began! I used to feel unbearable upper-quadrant pain that sent me to the emergency room, nausea every afternoon, fluctuating appetite, draining energy, and achy joints. I feel more normal now. I use an anti-inflammatory diet and list of supplements that help me stay healthy normal. I am not in any way qualified to give medical advice. This is just what has worked for me recently, and it could honestly change next week.

Vitamin C: As I have an autoimmune disease, it makes sense that higher doses of vitamin C appeared to have the biggest impact on how I felt. Allergic reactions lessened dramatically under this protocol. Now on a daily basis, I only need the vitamin C in my multi vitamin. But I turn to this protocol when my feels taxed, whether that’s Crohn’s or whatever colds is circulating this season.

Now Liver Detoxifier and Regenerator: My lab results showed elevated liver enzymes often this past year. While I don’t need it at the moment, it helped to take these pills at the same time I was taking higher doses of vitamin C.

L-Glutamine: Glutamine is supposed to protect the lining of the intestinal track, which is pretty important when leaky gut is a culprit. While I took more during my GAPS Intro diet, I now take 1 tsp each morning.

Multi-vitamin:  I try to supply my body with the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs. I noticed early on that after taking some brands vitamins in the morning, I would have an immediate allergic response. I switched to Freeda’s SCD multi-vitamins and haven’t had a problem since. These vitamins are made for people following the specific carbohydrate diet, so they are food sensitivity friendly.

Quercetin: Among other benefits, quercetin is supposed to help with allergies and histamine levels. I’ve also heard that vitamin C works best when accompanied by a flavonoid like quercetin.

Probiotics: I prefer to eat my probiotics by making or buying fermented foods, as I'm under the impression that fermented foods have a greater variety of strains than the probiotics you find in the pharmacy. If you're looking for a pill, Bio-Kult probiotics are recommended for GAPS patients and have helped me with bowel irregularity (sorry, TMI, again).

Digest Gold: Though I'm really good with my diet at home, digestive enzymes cover me when I don't have as much control over what food are available for me to eat (social gatherings and travel).

MegaFood Blood Builder: This isn't exactly for Crohn's, but this little pill, taken once a day, helps improve my circulation and has calmed down cramping. I definitely see a difference when I don't take it.

I'm still looking for answers, but I'm glad that I have a toolkit that is working for me now. This has certainly been a trial, but I am grateful that I have been blessed with an inquisitive mind, some self control, and many medical resources to figure out how I can find help or help myself.

07 April 2014

Influence of Faith

After watching General Conference this last weekend, Scott and I went over to visit with friends for dinner and games. While we were playing the card game, Compatibility, the topic of faith and religion came up. Our friends are faithful members of another church and had heard rumors about our beliefs that they wanted to clarify. I was really grateful that we could have a non-contentious discussion about faith with our friends. We both came to the table with general curiosity and respect for the other couple's faith and values.

When I was younger, I was very shy about sharing my religion. Growing up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was familiar with being peculiar for my faith and standards. I love my religion, and it has had a major influence on my character and who I've become. I was too shy to share with anyone, because I felt that a negative comment against my faith would be like a friend rejecting me as a person. Once, when I was in high school, I got so worked up just to share a book with a friend called What Mormon's Believe. I didn't have the courage to share my testimony, though I felt like I should do something. So I gave my friend a book I hadn't even read before, hoping it would explain my religion in better terms than I could on my own. This story shows a whole other side of my peculiarity... the awkward teenager kind.

Thankfully I feel more comfortable in my testimony now that answering questions from curious friends doesn't feel like the inquisition. In fact, I would prefer for friends to ask me questions than to rely on assumptions or rumors.

In a world of declining values and faith, I am extremely grateful for the example and courage of friends who incorporate faith in their families. How has faith influenced your life?

02 April 2014

Lite Spring Break Reading

This is *fingers crossed* the last year of my MBA program. I have been working on taking classes one at a time up until this year, but the last two terms I have taken two night classes per week. Winter term classes were a bit of a downer, and I'm now incredibly eager for June when my last two classes will be over.

So I took the opportunity during the week off between terms to entertain myself with books. It's been awhile since I sat down with a book that wasn't for a class, so I had forgotten how much I missed "lite" reads. Love me a good, no-brainer, page-turner. I prefer lazily reading hours of entertaining story lines over watching your typical 90 minute movie. My imagination is more fun.

Last week I read:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Death Cure by James Dashner
and the entire Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

Yeah, my Spring Break was a bit fantasy heavy.

It was my goal to finish the Maze Runner series and Divergent series before the movies came out. On Friday of Spring Break, Scott was home from his surgery rotation on the coast, and we went to see Divergent in the theater in Albany. I was glad I had read the book first, because I was able to explain the basic plot to Scott and avoid having another Hunger Games episode (Scott, in shock: Why were children killing children?!). Scott and I both enjoyed the movie, and Scott is now convinced that he would be a dauntless leader if he was there.

I tested that theory as we left the theater. It had been dumping rain all week long (duh, Spring Break in Oregon) and we had parked on the far side of the theater. When the movie ended, I started walking against the crowd towards the exit nearest our car. Scott stopped me.

Scott: Uh, hon! The main exit is that way.
Me: Yeah, but our car is on the other side of that crowd, and it's raining!
Scott: It's okay. We can go out the front door like every body else.
Me: *light bulb*... Be dauntless, Scott.

You should have seen him puff up his chest and lead me through that river of movie goers! Ha! It was Instagram worthy.

Our dauntless picture makes me happy!

24 March 2014

Med School Update: Third Didactic Week

Three amigos at Dean's Town Hall
Dean's Town Hall on Friday Morning, picture taken by Scott
It is sad to say that there is only one "didactic week" left. Sadder still to think that it probably wont be a full week with the students, and as families will be moving for Year 4, I likely won't get to see all my friends.

During this didactic week, Scott had a graded, internal medicine "patient encounter," and he attended plenary sessions for surgery and advanced internal medicine rotations. He also created a March Madness bracket, went to BWW with friends to watch games, and fit in two rounds of golf and a flag football game. I guess we are both anticipating that we wont get as much friend time after this didactic week.

Scott would want me to mention that he was also productive in his endeavors to schedule fourth year audition rotations. As I mentioned in a previous post, the process for scheduling audition rotations at potential residency locations is similar to applying to medical school. Scott has been writing essays, ordering transcripts and test scores, and getting letters of recommendation. He met with Western University's rotations office during didactic week to make sure he was getting all the official paperwork he needed. I think he still feels like he doesn't have enough direction in this process, but we'll find out soon enough once auditions are scheduled.

19 March 2014

Med School Update: Internal Medicine 2

Yes, I'm re-using the picture I took of the hospital in Newport this summer for this blog post about Scott's second Internal Medicine rotation. I wasn't about to travel out to Newport in this weather and with two classes per term trying to finish up my MBA.

So imagine Scott, at this hospital, but colder and more wet. Maybe a big puddle and rain clouds.

Scott mentioned that he is so glad that he completed his internal medicine rotations during the middle of third year, as internal medicine can be intense with difficult cases and preceptor questions. This last internal medicine rotation was probably Scott's favorite. He worked with a few doctors who prepared Scott for what residency will be like. He was asked to make orders, write up discharge notes and letters for patients for the doctors to review and use. I know I said it before, but Scott's Psych rotation has had a major positive impact on how he interviews patients. He loves having the opportunity to use the motivational interviewing skills he learned with patients who were admitted during this last rotation.

Scott really enjoyed internal medicine, in general. During this rotation he saw a lot of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, assisted with a couple procedures, pulled one 36 hour shift, and was fed all three meals daily at the hospital. He learned a lot from the preceptors in this particular rotation. Scott is hoping that this type of experience will transfer well to the physical medicine and rehabilitation specialty, which is on of the specialties he's considering.

17 March 2014

Med School Update: How to Schedule 4th Year Electives

Scott and I having a "kitty" calendaring video chat on his last rotation

We are more than half way through the third year of medical school and it is already time to plan our life. Scott has completed nine rotations, but already he is faced with the decision of what residency, and ultimately future specialty, he would like to do. Ideally, you should know what specialty you would like to pursue going into medical school. That way you can plan research activities, community service, and third-year electives tailored to that specialty. Sounds like medical school applications all over again, right?!

Scott has known from the beginning that he would like to consider sports medicine as his future profession, and luckily he has already had rotations that have confirmed his love of all things musculoskeletal. He hasn't done any research yet. We must have been under the impression that research was only needed for highly competitive specialties. However, having research during medical school on your resume will make any student more competitive for scholarships and preferred residencies. There may still be a chance for him to work with a faculty member on a case (hopefully my writing this out doesn't diminish his opportunities or ego).

To start the process of scheduling electives for fourth year, you need to know where you might want to do your residency. There are MD residencies and DO residencies to consider. You can search for MD residencies on FREIDA Online and search by US state and specialty (login required to search, but even I have a user name). There is a separate site for osteopathic residencies: http://www.opportunities.osteopathic.org/. In our search, we considered specialty, location, residency curriculum, affiliated school, and length of residency. I'm not saying those are the perfect set of characteristics... I'm especially not saying that because at this point we haven't applied for or been accepted to a residency. It's just the criteria we thought were important.

The majority of your electives in year four will be visiting the residencies you're considering for applications, in order for the residency and you to evaluate best fit. Once you know what residencies you're considering, you want to get their residency coordinator information from either FREIDA or Opportunities and contact them about doing rotations during your fourth year. This conversation will likely include them telling you how competitive their residency is and asking any questions you need before submitting documents to do a rotation.

Many rotations will require you to submit a formal request to do elective rotations. Rotation requests are submitted through the Visiting Student Application Service (VSAS). Most institutions will publish their available rotations between January - April of your third year and accept applications until later in the summer. Be aware that there are fees to submit requests and institutions may have their own processing fees. Applications include a photograph, CV, transcript (provided by your school), immunization report, and maybe an essay. Again, sounds like medical school applications!

Scott has spoken with rotations offices in Oregon, California, Washington, and Texas to arrange rotations. I plan on him being on elective rotations all over the country from July to December of next year. Best to have the expectation that I won't see him very much, and then be pleasantly surprised and grateful for the times when I will get to see him. We've had great conversations whenever he was on an away rotation this year. I know he loves this hands-on work and I support him in finding a place where he will love what he does.

UPDATE 10/2014: At this point Scott has done several audition rotations and is starting to receive invitations for residency interviews. Residency interviews start around November, involving a lot of traveling on the student's part.

If we had a second chance to schedule fourth year rotations, I would recommend scheduling one audition to begin early on (July or August) so your student gets a better idea for what curriculum or residency characters tics he/she prefers (good to know when applying to residencies in August and September). You will need to be flexible with your calendar, fluctuating based on what rotations your desired residencies have available.

To fill up your student's fall schedule, I would recommend submitting "tickets" (requests for rotations through the school's system) early, even before fourth year begins, in order to cover required rotations.  Required rotations can be scheduled at any time, and can be rescheduled if auditions are offered during the same time. At COMP-NW required rotations include sub-internships in Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Surgery. Scheduling these rotations in the fall can act as a back-up if your student doesn't get auditions scheduled, and then graduation requirements out of the way.

November and December will involve traveling for residency interviews. It may be possible to interview with the residency while your student is completing an audition there. Otherwise, your student will want to schedule rotations in November and December that will be flexible for travel. It may be necessary to use what limited vacation time your student has during those months for interview travel.