Friday, 30 October 2015

Board... Bard

I was completely taken with the idea to watch Shakespeare this evening, so at the moment my husband and I are watching Hamlet - the 2009 RSC television version with Patrick Stewart and David Tennant. It was either this or the 2012 Joss Whedon take on Much Ado About Nothing, but given that it's the night before Hallowe'en, a tragedy seemed more appropriate.

It has been a very long time since I've seen live theatre, and I very much want to while we're living here. While there is some at home, there's not often the classics, and not with the same sort of production budgets as you see in larger centres (naturally.)

Lately I've been spending time with old friends; the poems, plays, and novels that saw me through most of my life, which is what brings this all to mind. I'm feeling.. artsy.

This time of year always leaves me rather pensive even though I love it. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that I know the coming winter will be hard - it always is - and so I am trying to get most of my thinking out of the way before the snow falls. The last year, since I really went through my usual excessively introspective phase, has been a hard one, so I think this year it is even more necessary than ever to dredge up my ghosts and put them to rest.

It also so happens that tomorrow is the last day of my religious year, so it's supposed to be a time of reflecting on our previous year and purging ourselves of things that will drag us down. It only makes sense that my mind would go back to the changes over the last year and finally address them.

It also brings to mind the fact that there are only 25 hours left in October, and November is going to mess with my mind a bit because it's a year from then that I start clerkship. School is going fantastically well; my evaluations are all very good (we don't have marks, I can't post any like I did during undergrad) so it's hard to feel particularly bad about anything.

I'm just think-y and brooding a bit.

Which is why it's a good night for Shakespeare.

Also, we made a TARDIS pumpkin and it's going on our doorstep, along with the teal pumpkin (which is something you should look into if you are giving out treats this year!) This is completely unrelated to the rest of my post, except perhaps the fact that we're watching something with David Tennant in it.

I am absurdly proud of this somewhat amateur attempt. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015


Today was my little girl's fifth birthday.

She has interesting tastes. Actual Venetian mask, by the way. I love Pier 1. 

When I started school, she wasn't even two. I've been a student for more than 60% of her life, and by the time I finish training (which includes residency) I will have been a student for more than 80% of her entire life.

It's really hard to believe that she's already five. By the time my first child turned five, we had a fourteen month old toddler too, so things are very different this time around.

She's grown into quite a vibrant child, though her energy gets the best of her some days. She has a hard time focusing, and we're just sort of waiting at this point to see if some structured school time and a bit of maturity help that, or if it seems like we need to seek any sort of assessment. For right now, we're taking a watchful waiting approach, and we're stepping up the enrichment at home.

But today, she was just five. A happy, bouncy, silly little five year old who got a T rex, a bunch of books, craft supplies, and a Batman cake for her birthday.

Wrapping her T rex was fun. I'm pretty sure she knew she was getting it, so I decided to wrap it as obviously as I could.
I am very excited to see where age 5 takes her. I love watching my kids grow up, even if I do get a bit nostalgic by times. They are growing into such fantastic people that I can't help but enjoy being along for the ride.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Well, that sucked.

I just had my annual migraine. Ever since I was pregnant with my son, I've had roughly one real migraine per year, and I consider myself fortunate that that's it. I know people who get them regularly and I have absolutely no idea how they function.

The thing about migraines is that they're sort of like the flu. People use the term almost flippantly unless they've actually experienced the real thing. Someone will say "Oh, I've got a migraine" when they just have a tension headache, or "I have the flu" when they're at work with a bad cold.

Hint: if you're still able to function relatively normally, it's probably not a migraine or actual influenza. If you've ever had an actual migraine or real influenza, you know this.

I was up late (early, really) since I couldn't sleep, which isn't that uncommon. My sleep schedule is odd.

By just after 2 this morning, my head was splitting open. At 6:30am, just as my husband was getting up, I emailed my tutor and advised him I wouldn't be at tutorial tonight. An actual migraine feels a bit like your brain is attempting to liquefy itself in an olive press, at least that's how I've always experienced them. I get nauseated and I've actually been sick from them before, though fortunately I wasn't last night because that makes it a lot worse.

Acetaminophen + caffeine (well, tea, which may actually not help since tannins can supposedly trigger migraines, but it's not like I have caffeine tablets hanging around and I was sort of desperate) which didn't work. Neither did an NSAID, so I just drank a bunch of water in case I was dehydrated which can make it worse.

I fell asleep sometime around 6:30 - it was pain, not caffeine keeping me up - after I emailed my tutor, and woke up just after noon.

Migraines leave you with a sort of hangover; this residual mental and physical weakness that can make you ache for days. My arms actually feel shaky, which is the weirdest part because they didn't hurt when the migraine was in full swing. My head still aches a bit, but it's just a normal headache, nothing worse. Can't really focus much at the moment.

My wonderful husband made pork roast for supper and even though I am really hungry, the smell of it is putting me off. Stupid migraines.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Little Sacrifices

My husband and kids are going to a movie this evening. Hotel Transylvania 2. The kids loved the first film and since they both had a really good week at school, we were going to all go out as a family for a treat.

But I have so much to do. I still have about 4 more hours of lecture review that I want to do today. I have to space it out a bit and take frequent breaks to ensure the material is sinking in. Just watching lectures one after another is a waste of time; I need to ensure I'm actually actively reviewing the material. I'm not taking notes this time around, instead focusing more on the speaker.

The fact that I have to take this staggered approach to my review means I can't really lose three hours of the day. I have most of tomorrow off, since tutorial isn't until 5pm for me, but I'll be using that to prep for tutorial, which itself takes up most of the evening. I just don't have much time to prepare for this CAE before Wednesday morning.

I have Tuesday afternoon off, and I'll probably have most of the evening since our clinical skills sessions don't usually last the entire three hours, but still, I don't like reviewing the last day before a test, even if the CAE is more "test" than test.

My group members and our residents were kind enough to agree to schedule clinical skills for Tuesday this week, instead of our usual Wednesday, because my daughter's birthday is Wednesday. It was really kind of them because a lot of students probably would want that evening to study instead of do clin skills, but they were nice enough to agree to the Tuesday time for my benefit because my tutorial members are pretty cool people.

I am, of course, having a very slight panic at the fact that my youngest, my little baby girl, will be five years old in three days. I still think of her as being this big:
She was a year and a half old here. And yes, she's listening to her dad's heart with a stethoscope. Well, trying to since she forgot to put the earpieces in. She has been saying since she was two that she wants to be a doctor, and I really can see it happening someday. 
But she's not that little bitty thing anymore. She's going to be five years old. My feisty, fiery, rough-and-tumble daughter. The kid in the princess dress running around picking up bugs to examine them.

I hate that I'm missing the movie this afternoon, but it's just one of those sacrifices I need to make to ensure our future. At least this time around, I won't miss her birthday. Hopefully I won' t in the future, but that's something over which I have no control.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Cardio Closing

We just finished our last week of our cardiology block. That's four weeks resp and four weeks cardio, done, and then five weeks haeme left to round out Medical Foundations 1, the first major block of my medical education.

Preclerkship at Mac is broken down into five blocks. MF1 is, basically, oxygen supply and demand. Resp, cardio, and haeme (yes, I use the correct spelling of haeme. It annoys me slightly that most of my educational materials do not.)

MF 2, which starts November 30th for us, is metabolism. Nutrition, gastro, endo. It runs for a total of 9 weeks, though we get a 2 week break at the end of December.

MF 3, also 9 weeks, starts on February 15th of next year. Renal, repro, and genetics. That takes us through to mid-April, at which point the ten weeks of MF 4 (immunology and oncology) starts. That one wraps up late June and then we have eight weeks, during which we have to complete 7 weeks of block electives. We get one week of vacation during that time. These are called our "Post MF4 electives."

After the post MF4s, we're back for MF 5, 13 weeks of msk, neuro, and psych.

Then we have a week's orientation before clerkship starts on November 21, 2016. That is just over a year away.

I'm literally two months into medical school, and clerkship is just over a year away.

That's terrifying.

A year goes by so damn fast these days that I can practically hear the 'whoosh' of it. I'm going to be a clerk before I know it.

I mentioned in a small group session last week that by the time the next election rolls around, we're going to be PGY2s (second year residents, for those unfamiliar with the term.) Sure, we'll only be a few months into our second year, but still. By the time we next go to the polls for a federal election, in the fall of 2019, my classmates and I will have already completed more than a year of our residencies. I will be less than a year away from entering practice, if I don't do a +1.

It is sufficient enough to speed up my heart rate a little when I start thinking about it.

At the moment, I need to focus on reading ECGs. not panicking about my future.

But the panic will be back, I'm sure. MF1 will be gone before I know it, and the rest will follow it far too quickly into the past.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Best Part of Having Your Own Office

I seriously love my office. It is my peaceful little oasis in the house, and it's a space that is all mine, so it is not so much decorated as a collection of things I enjoy. Lots of books. Plus my instruments, my Kirby (yes, the video game character), my various bits and bobs of art supplies, and whatnot. It's a room for me to work, but also to take time to relax and centre myself.

The absolute best decision I made when we were finishing the office was the decision to put a couch in it.

The couch we found is actually a sectional which pulls out to a queen sized bed. Got a fantastic deal ($250! For a sectional!) and it's in really good shape. It is also quite possibly one of the most comfortable couches I have ever had the pleasure to own. It has the one drawback of being ugly as sin, but I don't care. It's comfortable and I love it.

Beloved Family Dog agrees. The mammalian pets are't usually allowed in here, but she seemed sad today so I let her as a treat. 

Because I only have a tiny, high-up window, there's very little outside light coming in so even during the day, it's pretty dark in here. This means my office is the best place in the house to take a nap, which is a hobby of mine. Can I call napping a hobby? I'm awfully good at it.

Funny thing is that I've always had trouble falling asleep at night, ever since I was a kid. My mind goes berserk and I spend hours calculating sums or re-reading a book in my head or some such nonsense because I can't shut it off long enough for me to fall asleep.

But at 4pm? Five minutes and I'm dead to the world.

I have a feeling this will come in handy in the coming years of erratic sleep schedules.

Maybe I should practice more. Make sure I'm really good at grabbing a bit of sleep whenever I can, just to be sure I'm ready to go come residency.

Too bad I have to leave for tutorial in an hour.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Ugh, parking

So, I sort of don't go to lectures at all anymore. Well, I go to mandatory ones. 

I live about 10-15 minutes away from campus. It's rather convenient to be so close, though that 15 minute drive becomes a 30 minute drive in the morning. Problem is, the only parking lot I could get a pass at was the M lot, which is over a kilometre from campus. There's a shuttle, but it drops me off on the other side of campus from the building where all of my classes are.

It's not that I mind a bit of a walk, it's rather refreshing, but it means that in the mornings, when we have lecture (LGS) I have to leave home over an hour before it's scheduled to start to get there on time, and sometimes I still don't because the traffic can be so variable. It is REALLY annoying.

I used to only have to leave home 20 minutes before I needed to be in class and I lived further away. 

So I don't go to campus unless it's mandatory because it's frankly a waste of my time to spend an hour in transit when I could just stay home and watch the LGS online in that time. I have been mildly lazy about watching the LGSes online, but I'm not falling behind material-wise, so there's that. 

I'm basically telecommuting to med school. This does mean that occasionally I go to campus only once in a week, for ProComp on Tuesday. That will be the case this week, because both my tutorials and my clinical skills sessions are at the hospital closest to my house. I drive several of my tutorial group members to the hospital whenever we need to be there, so I end up going to campus anyway, but at least I don't have to park.

Pretty excited for clinical skills tonight, though. We're doing cardiac exams in the hospital, on real patients. It's a bit nerve-wracking to ask to learn on real patients when they're already in the hospital which means they're obviously not having a great go of things, so I don't want to bother them, but they have all been fantastically kind about participating in our learning.

I've actually not seen a patient yet refuse to have a med student. It's really quite incredible. But I suppose with this being a med school city, people sort of expect it. 

Works for me, anyway.

Monday, 19 October 2015


Now, it should be no secret that my political views lean progressive, so it should be no surprise that I am very excited about today's election because tomorrow, Stephen Harper damn well better not be prime minister.

So after my kids' doctor's appointment this morning, I brought them with me to the polling station. Since I don't yet have an Ontario driver's license (long story as to why that hasn't happened yet) I had to use my Mac student ID and bring up my phone ebill on my mobile.

The list of ID you can use is here. You do NOT have to print bills or statements that you use for ID - they can be shown on a mobile device. The people at my poll told me I was the first one they'd seen do it, but know it is an option.

Your employer is legally required to give you 3 consecutive hours off during the day, for which you must be paid, if you are working during the polling hours.

If you are an eligible voter in this election, I urge you to GO VOTE!

Friday, 16 October 2015


There's something very special about working with parrots.

Unlike dogs and cats, parrots are not domesticated. They can be tame, but ultimately the species kept in captivity are unchanged from their wild cousins. They are still wild animals. Pet parrots become accustomed to humans throughout their lives, but they haven't been bred for millennia to trust and want to associate with humans, as is the case for dogs.

Over the last few weeks, we've seen our galah learn to play with toys. He's figured out how to boss the cats around. He's bonding to my husband and learning to tolerate me. Our son has even made some inroads with him.

Today, we brought him to be groomed and while he screeched his head off while it was being done, he calmed almost immediately afterwards and chatted with people while we shopped at the adjoining store.

He looks to us for comfort now. Our voices can calm him. He's learning to trust, and he's getting better.

Cockatoos are very demanding birds. They require a ton of socialization and they need to be fed well, housed well, and constantly entertained or they start to mutilate themselves. It can be a very difficult behaviour to address once it starts. But with just a few weeks of constant attention, good food, a huge cage, and lots of toys, he's coming out of his shell, and he's leaving his new feathers alone. His belly and neck have a bunch of pinfeathers that have come in over the last week, and he's not touched them yet. We're hopeful.

He hasn't bonded with me like he has with my husband. It will probably take a long time before I'm able to handle him the same way, and I'm okay with that.

I know how important it is to be slow, and to meet someone where they are when you are trying to build a relatioship. Particularly with somebody (somebirdy?) who has had difficulty in the past. I know the value of patience, of calmness, of not taking rejection personally, of not rising to attacks.

As silly as it may sound, I think some of the skills I've learned in dealing with parrots - these beautiful, wild, unpredictable beings - will come in handy when dealing with people. So far, every patient I have seen has been very kind and very approachable. That will certainly not be the case, particularly once I do an emerg elective, I'm sure.

Gray's and Dreaming about a Doctor's Office

I have a bit of a thing for nice books and writing instruments. I have a hand-tooled, leather bound, sewn-spine journal made with handmade paper, and I use dip pens and bottled ink to write in it. It feels almost luxurious to write in something like that. I'd certainly recommend it if you ever want to feel like a scribe from the middle ages.

One of my dreams is to have a gorgeous library in my home. Rich woods; studded leather chairs; occasional tables just large enough for a pot of tea. Like what you'd imagine of a scholar's office from one of the ancient universities.

Naturally, this office will have walls lined with built in bookshelves, and these shelves will be lined with beautiful books. Not the gaudy, glossy, brightly coloured texts of today, but stately references and magnificent gold-lettered, leather or cloth bound books on all the subjects I love; physics and medicine and literature and drama. I want beautiful copies of the works of my favourite authors.

And along the shelves I'll have dotted little areas to display the antique medical curiosities I have always wanted to collect. A replica of van Leeuwenhoek's microscope; old patent medicine bottles; military med kits from WWI; devices and documents and all sorts of things which can tell small parts of the story of medicine.

I've dreamed of this library of mine since I was a child, and I very much intend to make it real someday. My husband knows how I feel about beautiful books, and I told him years ago that I wanted a leather bound copy of Gray's Anatomy once I got into medical school. I figured he'd forgotten long ago.

Turns out, he remembered.

He bought it as a gift to give me after the white coat ceremony, but it didn't arrive until today.

That book will hold pride of place in my library, when I finally manage to build that sanctuary I've dreamed of.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Didn't trip!

Got my white coat yesterday and, to my amazement, I did not trip whilst traversing the stage even though I made the incredibly stupid decision to wear heels that I am uncomfortable in.

The ceremony was fantastic. They introduced us by name, degree(s), and previous school(s.) My classmates are certainly diverse. The speakers were lovely and it really solidified how glad I am to be there.

I got a lovely note from a physician who graduated from McMaster in 1978. I'm not sure it's appropriate to copy it here in its entirety, but here's a few excerpts.

Welcome to life long learning in medical sciences.

Medicine opens up a whole new world of adventure, curiosity, joy, and fun. 

Often it is not what you know but how to relate to people, so please take time to talk with your patients and forget your computers and phones for a few minutes.

It's on both sides of the notepaper that Mac provides so I'm going to make a high quality copy of the back and then frame it with the actual note and the copy side by side so the whole thing is visible.

I really feel like a medical student now. It's not the white coat that did it, but the last seven weeks of learning and the marked change in how I interact with physicians and classmates. I realized I'm really building that clinical decision-making framework and it's slowly building on the knowledge I brought with me and that will grow in leaps and bounds over the coming years and throughout the rest of my career.

It's been over twenty years since I learned what the white coat means, and twenty years I've wanted one of my own. Now that I actually have one, it's hanging in my closet and I'm unlikely to wear it often. It's my mind, not my wardrobe, that will make me a doctor.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Extra, Extra

There are a lot of things medical students can do to fill up their extra hours before we begin the most intensive part of our educations.

There are interest groups, various levels of student government, event planning, student organizations of all sorts, medical advocacy, community groups we can become involved with, optional talks and lectures, conferences on science and medicine. At Mac, we also have horizontals, which are optional, the musical, and eventually the interview weekend video. We'll be able to volunteer for interview weekends.

On top of all of that, there's the usual sorts of things students can do in their free time; intramural sports, community volunteering, groups, research, political activism, and so on. 

Frankly, there's a lot we can do. The interest groups in particular are a big thing for a lot of students. 

I do very, very little in the way of organized activities outside of school. There's all sorts of things I'd certainly be interested in participating in, like the musical, horizontals, several clubs, and IGs, but I have learned the value of saying 'no.' Being able to say no is how I've managed to retain my sanity so far. 

My evenings when I don't have clin skills or tutorial are spent at home, with my family. We eat supper together. Unless I have a ton to do for the next day, I try to help with the bedtime routine. 

Weekends are relaxing and catching up, doing things together. Spending time as a family.

There are so many things I could fill up that time with, but nothing as important as my husband and kids. Time spent at home isn't wasted, it is cherished. 

The next few years are going to cost them so much time with me. I will be around less and less as my education ramps up. It's already starting, in that I'm home only four evenings a week whereas before I tried to ensure I was home for supper every night. Some days, I only see the kids a couple of hours.

I can't bring myself to give up on the sometimes very few hours I have with them just to do something optional. 

Beyond that, I find I need a lot of 'me' time of late. Time to just write, or knit, or do some calligraphy. Time to be something other than a wife, mother, and medical student. Filling up my every waking hour with commitments would just exhaust me. 

While I understand med students are typically the so-called "type A" sorts, I can't help but worry that some of my peers, who seem to take on a little bit of everything with gusto, are barreling towards burn out at an alarming rate.

Perhaps this is why Mac does so much about self-care. It does matter. Time has taught me how far I can push myself, and how I shouldn't be forcing myself to that limit all the time. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Little Ceremonies

There's something ritualistic about making a pot of tea. The order and almost automaticity of the steps remains constant. It's my favourite morning ritual. Fantastic way to wake up. 

At the moment, I'm having cereal and tea for lunch instead of breakfast because we're having an utterly lazy day. The kids have been munching on leftovers. There are a lot of leftovers. That was sort of the plan. 

I cooked. I cooked on Saturday and from when I woke up until minutes before we ate at 2pm yesterday. 

It was amazing. The stuffing was perfect, the gravy was perfect. The vegetables all done just right. It was the first time I did a full holiday turkey dinner all on my own (I've made all the components at sometime or another, obviously) since they were always at my parents' house and I usually just helped cook. This time I did it all start to finish, and it was perfect. We even had wine with our holiday meal, something that is a rare thing in our house. But the presence of a bottle of red or a bottle of rosé (my husband's and my preferences, respectively) in the fridge has become increasingly common, so we had it at the table. Literally the first time the kids have seen us drink alcohol, so it was a point of discussion. 

Next special occasion is actually tomorrow. My white coat ceremony, my official welcome to the profession of medicine, something I've been looking forward to for over twenty years. My husband and kids are coming, and I talked to the other students with kids and they are bringing theirs so they won't seem out of place at all. 

I am ridiculously excited for this, you have no idea. It's a big, big milestone in my life and even though I know it's purely symbolic, symbols can be very important. This one is. 

And I'll have the three most important people in my life in that audience to see it happen. What more could I ask?

Still need to work on my son's place-setting skills. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015


We're doing our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow (at a proper dinner time, which is midday. The late day meal is supper) so I've been doing the baking today. I want Monday off which is why we're doing it on Sunday. 

Started out roasting pumpkins for pie:
This is pan #2. We processed six pumpkins. 

After we did the home grown pumpkins last year, I don't think I can ever go back to canned pumpkin. It's just not the same. 

The pie is currently in the oven, and there's ten cups of purée in the freezer plus another cup and a half in the fridge for later use. Apple pumpkin muffins are *amazing* and I want to make a batch to take to my tutorial group. 

I also made some bread. Clover rolls, pan rolls, and a loaf.

I'm still debating whether I'll make a lemon pie too, which is something we usually have at thanksgiving. I've already made the crust, I just need to roll it out and whip up the filling. But I might use the crust to make apple turnovers instead. Decisions, decisions. I'll be whipping up the cranberry sauce shortly so it can set overnight in the fridge. 

We're doing a proper, full maritime thanksgiving. 

Turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, turnip, carrots, beans, pickles, beets, and mustard pickles. Buns and bread and pie and gravy. Maybe throw a pan of biscuit in tomorrow to have with the gravy. 

This is our first Thanksgiving as just the four of us and I want it to be a special one to be the foundation of many lovely memories. 

The kids are excited for the food. I hope that in the coming years, we'll have local friends to invite over. People to welcome into our home, to share a meal with. There's old magic, of a sort, in breaking bread together, and Thanksgiving is a particularly special meal to share. 

We have so much to be thankful for this year, so very much. What a meal this will be to celebrate all that we have gained and all that we have to look forward to in the years ahead. 

Yes, my kitchen does smell amazing right now. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Red Stethoscope Diaries

So, my family med experience supervisor is a fantastic teacher. I really like her, and I think this experience is going to be incredibly beneficial. It's definitely immersive. 

Today was day two in the doctor's office and I got to see patients on my own. Obviously just to do preliminary history taking and exam and my supervisor came in afterwards, but it was really fantastic to get the chance to see them and figure out what questions to ask and to manage to do so without being awkward at all. I can tell that today even compared to yesterday, my confidence is growing.

As I expected, I'm actually a lot more comfortable in a clinical setting than even a simulated encounter. Meeting with real patients who have real concerns really makes the "I'm going to be a doctor" feeling sink in. 

I even got to use my own stethoscope today and record notes in patients' charts. The nurse at the office has offered to teach me to do injections, which she has apparently done with previous med students. 

Next week I'll be back in the clinic with my supervisor in the morning and I'll be spending a few hours in the afternoon with the pharmacist who does diabetes monitoring/management which I think is going to be really valuable experience.

Honestly, I'm having a blast right now. I think I can take on some electives so I made some contacts at the elective fair yesterday. I'm hoping to be able to do a couple weeks back home next summer and the lovely woman who helps organize rural placements through the established program here provided me contact information to try to set that up. 

I'm planning to reach out to see about some horizontals in surgery, IM, Obs/Gyn (reproductive endocrinology, actually. The L&D electives are pretty much all full and, well, I've delivered two kids - I know how it goes)  and palliative. I definitely need to try to set up an emerg elective ASAP since I really want that exposure too, but I don't want to overwhelm myself.

As it is, I'm am loving the clinical exposure and I can't wait for the next time I can see a patient. I know this is early med student enthusiasm and will fade with time, but I'm going to enjoy it for now 

With my shiny red stethoscope from home. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Family Medicine

I spent a few hours this morning shadowing a family physician. It was literally only my second exposure to real patients, so I'm not diving into history taking and physical exams just yet, but that will start before long.

I'm back at her office tomorrow afternoon.

It went really well. I got to see several patients, all with very different complaints, and we talked a bit about the organizational structure of her office and family health team. It it quite different than how things are handled back home, so it's really interesting to see how it all works together.

The system her group uses really appealed to me - it seemed to be a rational, well-thought-out system built around patient needs while still taking physician lifestyle into account, and it just seemed overall very rational. Which, of course, makes me realize why it isn't done back home - rationally organized health care delivery isn't really a strong point for the province. It's not really the doctors' faults, just that the province doesn't really seem to make it feasible for physicians to build those sorts of networks.

Fortunately, my family medicine experience supervisor is experienced at it and she's really an excellent example of a family doctor. She's been taking her time and explaining things clearly. She seems to have a really amazing relationship with her patients and I can tell there's a lot of trust there. The office staff is absolutely wonderful as well.

I'm really looking forward to spending the six weeks in her office and I'm really glad that Mac sets us up like this right away. I've known since I was a very young child that I wanted to be a family doctor and everything I'm seeing so far is confirming that all over again.

I'm probably going to start setting up some horizontals in other areas of medicine in the next few weeks. The month or so of an somewhat relaxed schedule with lots of wiggle room is coming to a close as my calendar now fills up with clinical time and electives.

Feels like med school is really getting rolling now.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Real People

I'm five weeks and two days into med school classes and today I got to see real patients for the first time. 

My clinical skills group went to the hospital where our instructors (residents) were working and we saw some of their patients. 

I was surprised by how willing people were to have us see them. They were very welcoming and seemed very happy to take part in our learning. It was really a fantastic experience and I'm excited about more clinical encounters. Tonight, being my very first time seeing patients, was a bit awkward, but I think the time with standardized patients helped tone it down a bit.

My family medicine placement starts tomorrow, just a bit away from my house actually. I'll be there from 9-12. My supervisor just got back to me this evening so it's a bit short notice, but I'm excited. I'll be back there Thursday afternoon too. I'll probably spend around 6 hours in the clinic this week on top of the nearly 3 we were in the hospital today which is pretty fantastic clinical exposure for just over a month into medical school. 

At the moment, I'm coming up with some goals for the family med placement. I have a form my supervisor will need to fill out at the end of it, but I'm going to provide her a copy tomorrow for her to refer to so she knows what I'm going to be evaluated on. 

It's really quite fantastic that I'm only into October and I'm already learning clinical medicine in a clinical setting. It's not all books and blackboards, but hands on with patients, learning medicine the way it will be practiced.

After this evening's time in the hospital, I'm just overall left with a sense of immense gratitude to the patients who agreed to participate in our learning. They are under no obligation to do so, and they don't get anything from it (besides our gratitude) so it's really quite amazing that they are willing to help us when they are at a potentially difficult time in their lives. 

And tomorrow morning I get to meet even more patients. 

The "holy cow, I'm really going to be a doctor" is sinking in. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Once upon a midnight dreary..

While I pondered, weak and weary,
I sat and sipped on French rosé and and added to my blog once more.
(My apologies to Poe)

The only word I can really think of to describe today is dreary, which is why that popped into my head.

It was cold and wet. October has blown in with all the grace of a mannerless dog, tromping through the yard and leaving grisâtre autumn in its wake.

I rather like the colder weather. When it's crisp and the air is clearer. Autumn has always been my favourite time of year. But today was just a misery. Not even the sort of rain I enjoy. So we stayed in, and did nothing productive.

Thursday was the due date for this year's OMSAS applications. I'm very excited to see how the process goes. Even though I'm not in the thick of the application mess anymore, it is still exciting to see people filled with nerves and hope and anticipation. Many of these are my future colleagues.

I was talking to my husband about the interview period next year and we've agreed that we'll take someone overnight for each interview day. A member of the class of 2017 was kind enough to do that for me, and I said at the time I'd pay it forward and I meant it. Now that's just a few months ahead and I'm super excited to play hostess.

I'm reflecting a bit on how much the last year has changed things for our family. Life is, in very many ways, so much brighter and more promising than it was a year ago. It doesn't feel like we're stuck on a treadmill anymore.

The kids are thriving (though my daughter is picking up some terrible habits at school, which we are working to curtail.) My husband doesn't have a job yet, which is casting a bit of a pall on things, but he's trying very hard to find something. I am absolutely loving medical school, aside from a couple hiccups along the way. We have a lovely home, even if it isn't in the country. Neighbours are pretty decent.

It's not perfect, not by any means, but it's closer than we've ever been, and we've got a pretty bright future ahead.

When I clicked Submit on the OMSAS app last year, this is what I had hoped for, and I cannot possibly say how thrilled I am that things are working out.

Tonight, I'm finding myself thankful for everything we have achieved. Some challenges lay ahead, but what would life be without something to work through?