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 na├»ve 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?