Sunday, 29 November 2015

Takin Advantage of Little Breaks

Thanks to the fact that I'm between MFs, I don't really have anything to do this weekend. And the next couple of weekends, I'll be cleaning (madly) because a friend of mine is coming to stay with us over the solstice. 

So I am doing nothing. Hanging out with my kids and pets. 

This is a very insistent cockatoo. When he wants to cuddle, you have no choice in the matter. 

The best part of the fact that this is more or less a very long weekend (haven't had any actual work to do since Tuesday) is that I've managed to catch up on my sleep. Haven't been sleeping well lately - health stuff causing issues - and so I finally feel refreshed. 

Considering that it looks like MF2 is going to be much more intense than MF1, I think it's for the best that I'm at least going to enter it not feeling half dead. 

Think I'm going to go drag the kids out for a walk. It's nice and cool. Perfect timing. 

Just have to get this bird to agree to go back into his cage...

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Degrees of Degrees

I don't have my BSc.

I want it.

Apparently, most of my classmates who got in out of third year are receiving or have received 3 year degrees from their home schools.

I called my school twice and then emailed and finally heard back. Apparently, they don't do this. But they can apply up to 30 credits worth of professional school coursework to the completion of a degree.

Conveniently, I only need exactly 30 credits to complete my degree requirements.

It is up to the chair, though, so I emailed her. I don't know if it will work for med school the way it does for the vet students (who usually are granted their degrees under this provision.) They have actual grades and their courses are structured rather like undergraduate courses. I don't have grades nor do I have discrete courses like they do. This might complicate things.

I can see procomp being used as equivalent to the requirement for communications and English (considering it has a writing component.) Clin skills and anatomy could easily be considered lab courses.

It'd be really cool if she agrees to this and I manage to be awarded my degree. I would totally fly down in May for convocation with my classmates. I'd be receiving my degree with my original class, which is pretty cool. And it'd look funny on my CV - BSc in 2016, MD in 2018.

But yeah, I just feel like I've left the kettle on or something. It's unfinished, and that's bothering me. I want to be able to hang a degree from my home school on my wall.

Hopefully the chair will allow that to happen.

Friday, 27 November 2015


Completely random sidenote: I just realized that Monday was ten years from the day I met my husband.

We got married pretty quickly - we'd been planning a long engagement but our son sort of accelerated things - so I often only really think about our anniversary, but it's still so weird to think it's been ten years. Geez.

Just thought I'd record that somewhere.

Anyway, MF2 is now just a couple days away. My tutorial group had a lovely goodbye supper after our last feedback session and taking up our final CAE. It's now well and truly over.

Next up is GI and Endo and I expect this is going to be a fairly easy MF for me given my previous enjoyment of endocrinology.

Things are definitely going to be different, though. While my tutor and clinical skills preceptors were all very laid back in MF1, I know that's not the case for all groups. When we were doing our mock OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination - basically, being examined on our clinical skills with standardized patients) a lot of the other groups who were in the sim lab were stressing out completely. Freaking out about not knowing things, asking us about particular acronyms and so on. My group was just sitting back, chatting.

Our preceptors just kept telling us not to worry, that we knew what we were doing, etc. They were really fantastic coaches and I'm going to miss them.

The preceptors for this next MF seem to be a bit more... particilar. I already have a chapter to read in a textbook I don't have (I use a different clinical exam book but apparently we're now expected to have a copy of the one they use.) We're also being required to do 15-20 minute presentations on a topic chosen from a particular list. Mine isn't until the seventh session, so that'll be at the end of January.

It's really interesting how different the various groups are. Some tutors are very, very old school and insist that you learn things a certain way because that's how it always has been, whereas my tutor really allowed us to lead and wanted to ensure we understood concepts, not that we could regurgitate.

Going to be an interesting week, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Something Besides School!

I'm finally going to do something extracurricular. 

I've mentioned several times before that I love the interview videos that the school's put out and Mac's last year was really impressive. So I'm going to try to be part of creating this year's. 

Of course, the first meeting is right after our parent observation session at my daughter's school and just before an appointment so I can't really go to that, but I'm hoping to go to the future ones and contribute. There are a lot of talented people in my class and I'm really excited to see what everyone comes up with. 

I've gotten so much enjoyment out of these videos over the years that it's only right that I try to make something for next year's students, eh?

Sunday, 22 November 2015

MF Done

Tomorrow is my last CAE of MF1. Everyone jokingly calls MF1 "MF Fun" because it's apparently the most laid back of the five. I can see it; the last three months haven't really been taxing by any means. To be honest, I expected to be more exhausted by this point in medical school but I'm doing really well.

Of course, I'm nervous about MF 2 (or "MF Poo" as it's known since it covers the GI system) because I'll be starting with a whole new group, which means a whole new way of doing things. Guess we'll see how that goes.

I actually really don't feel ready for my CAE tomorrow The last one - cardio - wasn't so bad, but while haeme isn't more difficult by any means, it's a bit more complex. I like haeme, it's very interesting. But I'm definitely not destined to be a haematologist.

Just today, I'm going to send off an email to try to set up an emerg elective. Finally getting around to it, now that MF1 is pretty much settled.

Emerg is one of those specialties I can see myself doing, but the lack of follow-up is something I know would bother me. I want to know what happens after, how my patient is doing. I suppose that's why I think I'd enjoy emerg back home; I can do a bit of that, but also have a family practice (if I do a 2+1) so that I get a little bit of everything.

Even though I know this physician is very friendly and more than willing to take on students, I still feel awfully nervous about contacting him to ask if I can do an elective. They are very busy people and I don't want to impose, even though I do realize that the ones who offer to teach often do so because they actually enjoy teaching (at least this is what people tell us...)

Still, I hate being a bother, but I sort of have to be if I want any exposures outside of the curriculum. They do this on purpose, I realize, so that we start seeing other physicians as our teachers and, ultimately, our colleagues, but bridging the gap is a tough one. Doctors are still 'others' to me. They aren't part of my sphere; I'm still someone socialised to use ranks and titles and to be aware of where I fit, and I am not a doctor yet so it's hard to essentially ask a favour of someone I've never met.

But I'm going to do it since I reaaally want an emerg shift. And I have a whole list of other places I want to go, but for now I'll start with this.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Present Plotting

I've never understood why people think babies are so expensive. They aren't, particularly if you breastfeed and cloth diaper so the only ongoing expense is clothing.

Kids get more expensive the older they get. Their clothes get more expensive, particularly once they outgrow kids' sizes (we're probably only maybe 2 years away from that with our oldest) and hit that stage of ever-growing feet.

Their interests also get much more expensive. We've asked the kids to provide us a list of presents they would like for the holidays. This is my son's:

- a desktop computer with a touchscreen monitor
- Splatoon (video game)
- Snap Circuits 300 kit
- "whatever clothes or toys you think are appropriate" (that is verbatim from his list, I'm not joking.)

His interests now are in video games, computers, and little else. Expensive things. He reads things connected to the things he's interested in so books are always a possibility too, but he's not terribly big on fiction, aside from the Harry Potter books which we're reading as a family.

My five year old, well, she's fairly easy to shop for since she actually loves getting clothing. Except that she has discovered all these new stores here - clothing and otherwise - that we don't have back home and dear gods this child has expensive tastes. Her absolute favourite thing? $8 bath bombs from Lush.

She also loves video games (I swear my children do play outside!) and is now quite the little Whovian so she wants all the Doctor Who accessories she can get her hands on. There were tears at EB Games a few weeks ago because I wouldn't buy her a sonic screwdriver.

So yeah, kids are more expensive the older they get and right now, trying to decide what to buy these kids that will both please them and not break the bank is rather difficult.

We have decided to get our son a computer, though definitely not with a touchscreen monitor. We're buying components, though, so he gets the experience of assembling it himself and learning about how computers work. Thankfully, computer parts can be had for very cheap these days so it's not actually *that* expensive.

Whatever happened to the days they were more excited about the boxes?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Approaching Time Off

Five weeks until the winter hols. I'm really excited to have time off, not least because a friend is visiting from back home.

She's from Calgary originally and, as always, has to pass through Toronto on her way back to see her family. This year, she's flying into TO a few days before she flies on to Calgary and spending the intervening days with us. She'll be arriving on the 19th.

She'll be with us over the Solstice, so we get to share our traditions with her. I'm very excited to have a real, proper visitor for once. As silly as that may seem, it's true. I'm super excited to share our holidays with someone.

Come March, we'll hopefully be able to host a few students over interview weekends so I'll get to play hostess.

MF1 is coming to a rapid close and I've now gotten my group assignment for MF2. It's a smaller group - only 7 instead of 8 - and my new tutor is the director of MF3, so I expect he's quite experienced with the PBL system.

I'm actually going to miss my group, I think. Took a while to warm up to each other, but I get along with them decently well but now it's time to go right back into that sort of awkward, getting-to-know-you phase of things. I'm not good at that part. That's one downside of changing groups with each MF, particularly for the introverts in the class.

I understand it's so that we can benefit from a broader variety of skillsets that our classmates bring to the table, but it's still awkward to need to get used to a brand new group, tutor, and clinical skills preceptors.

At least our procomp groups stay the same, so there's some continuity at least.

Just two weeks left of MF1 then I'm 20% done preclerkship. It's going quickly!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembrance and Remembering

I've posted before about the fact that I come from a military family. Remembrance Day means a lot to me, but it is not the only day each year that I remember our service members. I am choosing to use my blog today as a bit of a platform for a matter of some concern as relates to the theme of today, so please read this next bit carefully.

My father a Veteran - and while I have no contact with him, the impact of the Canadian Forces on my upbringing is undeniable - and I spent years working in the service of Canada's Veterans. I'm unable to serve because of medical reasons (I tried to join the CF years ago) but wish to do what I can to serve our people.

The support of our former and current servicemembers is extremely important to me and the reductions to the services they receive - particularly as relate to pensions and health care - have been immeasurably frustrating to see happen.

The newest minister of Veterans Affairs has promised to make some very important and meaningful changes to the services and benefits our Veterans receive. I urge those of you reading to write your MPs and urge them to ensure this promise is kept. Our current and former servicemembers in receipt of benefits are very much in need of these changes. It won't take you long, but please lend your voice.


Unrelated to the rest, today is a bit of a minor anniversary. Six months ago today was the last day of my old life. It was the very last day before everything changed, before I received my ticket to join the world of medicine.

My husband and I took a moment to look back over the last half year today and marveled at how much our lives have changed. We have changed a lot in this short time, our family has changed. Everything is different, the only exception being that we are more sure of where we are going than we ever have been before. It's amazing how fast the time has gone. Six months passed in the blink of an eye, and the remaining thirty months of my program will, I'm sure, flash by us just as quickly.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Bloody Incredible

Now, it should come as no surprise that I enjoy theatre. I've not seen any of the National Theatre Live cinema events before, so today was something new and definitely something I'll be doing again.

Holy cow, Hamlet was incredible. Best ever production of it I've seen and I'd really recommend you go see it. The last of the encores is Wednesday so try to see if it's on near you. The reviews aren't so great, but quite honestly I loved it.

My husband and I are thinking of getting a sitter for an evening so we can go see Coriolanus. It's a replay of the 2013 production, but it still looks like it'd be fantastic on the big screen.

The husband and I are actually starting to make plans for the end of next year; we definitely want to take a trip for our tenth anniversary. The question is whether we bring the kids or not. If we don't, we'll have to decide whom to leave them with, and that's a lot to ask of friends. We'd rather not bring them since most of what we'd want to do would be intensely boring to a 6 and almost-10 year old. Museums and theatre and seeing the countryside and wine tastings and historical stuff that generally bores kids to tears.

There will be other times in our lives where we can take family vacations. Our tenth anniversary trip (and our first real vacation ever, to be honest) probably is not one of those times.

Besides, we are going to be going home around the time of our actual anniversary. It's just that going home isn't a vacation, it's a necessity. I'm going to try to set up a post-MF4 elective there and then go on ahead for a few weeks before my family joins me. I'll likely stay with friends and then we'll get a cottage for the real vacation part of it all.

Since we're well into November now, it's really time to start thinking about those block electives. It's generally easiest to set them up in the Mac area since schools often don't let preclerks do visiting electives, so I'm probably going to end up doing most of my elective time here, but if I can manage it, I'll probably split the 7 weeks of elective time into 3 weeks here, 2 in Ottawa, and 2 back home. Ottawa and Hamilton are probably the only areas outside of the Maritimes I'd really consider for residency.

I was thinking of trying to set up an international elective, but I doubt it'll be possible.

Lots to think about, anyway. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Time is Flying a Little Too Swiftly

It's November and I had a mini mental freakout over the fact.

Clerkship starts one year from this month.

My program finishes two years and six months from today. May 4, 2018.

I keep having these moments, these flashes of "who on Earth thought it was a good idea to let me become a doctor?" which I'm sure most of my classmates experience too.

There is one thing I am absolutely certain about at this point, and only one thing: I will manage to screw up along the way.

That thought is terrifying. While I realized that, as a med student, there are checks and balances in place to help ensure none of my mistakes will actually hurt people... those training wheels come off eventually. A few years down the road, sure (4.5 years is not that long!) but still.

The rising panic is never so bad that it prevents me from doing things, and I'm able to shove it right back into its box when necessary, but it's always there, peeking out of the cracks to see if I've gotten too confident and need to be brought back to Earth.

Today, I had one of those days where I freaked out a little and needed to chill out. So I'm in my office, studying haematology, sipping wine and listening to Debussy. I'm going to see Hamlet on the weekend (National Theatre Live encore at the cinema, not at an actual theatre) by myself, just to have some time to come back to myself so I can re-focus. I can't let these moments get away from me. That way madness lies*.

[*Yes, I know that's King Lear, not Hamlet. Humour me.]

Monday, 2 November 2015

Med School is an Intimate Sort of thing

In medical school, you get to know your classmates really well.

You perform physical exams on them, you use each other to practice clinical skills, and you chat about your own health issues and experiences with health care.

I expect there's a number of skills we won't be practicing on each other (use your imagination) but for these basic physical exams we're learning, so far we have used each other as guinea pigs. We only have so much SP (standardized/simulated patient) time, since the school has to pay them and budgeting is a necessity.

Clinical skills remains my favourite part of classes. It's where you really start feeling like an actual doctor. The classroom stuff is good too, particularly the way we do tutorials where we fire around ideas and look at the underlying physiology of the patient's symptoms and what they tell us about the overall clinical picture.

But it feels more doctorly to be in a clinic. using a stethoscope and your wits.

Now that we're into November, I've got a good handle on the swing of med school, and my last week of family med placement is next week, I'm about to start trying to set up some horizontal electives. L&D is pretty much 'no' because that's full for the foreseeable future and, well, I've delivered two kids myself so a lot of the mystery is gone from that for me. I'm going to try to book an emerg elective in the nearish future since I really, reaaally want some emerg exposure given that it's one of the few specialties I think might compete with my interest in FM. In all likelihood, I can see myself doing FM with a +1 emerg, so I think some early exposure to emerg is important.

I'm not so big on surgical anything, so I'm not in any rush to book electives in surgery, but I'm going to try to sort one out in the next few months just to be sure that I dislike surgery as much as I think I will.

Probably going to see about setting up a radiology horizontal, if I can. I don't imagine radiology is where I'll end up, but I"m trying to keep an open mind and I do have a thing for medical physics, so who knows. That's the purpose of these horizontals, anyway. Try things out, learn about what you actually like when you see it in practice.

So, first step is probably going to be to try to get emerg set up, and then maybe radiology, IM geriatrics, most likely, and then a rural horizontal somewhere.

Things are about to get a whole lot more fun. :)