Saturday, October 23, 2010

A whirlwind 5 months in the wards


As the leaves turn their red and yellows... as pumpkins start to appear in every possible food savory or sweet...as it becomes wonderfully chilly at night and I have to start using the comforter... I realize... It's already autumn!

Eek! How did the summer pass by without another post? Let's just say I was overwhelmed with everything that is the beginning of clinical rotations.

It was definitely a good decision for our entire house to take a research month following boards. We took time to relax, bond, and do a little research ;) for that month. I was never so happy to see so much sunshine without the thought of studying in my head.

Proof we got out of Pittsburgh haha.
We also got to take a little road trip to D.C. I loved the feel of D.C. (as opposed to the chaos of NYC, when I went to visit CSK later in the summer). Where else can you browse for hours in free museums, meet a Rhodes Scholar in a bar, have an epic dance party night, and still enjoy a classy brunch the next morning?

Homemade donuts at the Hotel Tabard (apparently THEE place to have brunch in D.C.)

I won't deny that towards the end of May I was itching to use some of that hard earned knowledge that I had gleaned for the 7 weeks preBoards... and thus I was totally ready and psyched for Specialty Care (a rotation that is a hodge podge of things including Adult ER, children's ER, Ophthalmology, and ENT). I learned a good amount during that rotation, but ultimately didn't really feel my calling was in any of those fields.

For July and August I delved into the depths of all things psychological and brain oriented...in Neuro/Psych. I began my 5 week turn in Psychiatry on the Dual Diagnosis floor of WPIC (Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, a top institute for psychiatry). I, for some silly reason, thought being on Dual Diagnosis was going to be like being on House M.D., where they would have crazy presenting symptoms and we would have to figure out some equally crazy diagnosis. But, like most things I hypothesize about, I was wrong- Dual Diagnosis is a floor for those who had both a psychiatric disorder IN ADDITION to a substance abuse/dependence problem. What did I get myself into? In the end, I actually really enjoyed the pace of psychiatry, spending a good couple hours a day just talking to people (and something I think I have a talent for). I got to see things I don't think many people understand a.k.a. bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder in addition to seeing how drugs/ alcohol/etc. can really ruin people's lives. I was enamored of psych for a bit.. til I found myself at the VA center for Neurology!

Neurology was a whirlwind short course (only 3 weeks at Pitt Med) where I got to experience inpatient consults, outpatient treatment for movement disorders, alzheimer's and other disorders. There is nothing quite as elegant as the neurological exam (after spending 15 seconds doing a visual fields test with my fingers in front of a patient's eyes, I was able to identify the exact optical tract lesion they had!) and I hands down loved my team who pushed me to really know my neuro/neuroanatomy and master the physical exam. I didn't think I'd fall in love with this specialty, but I somehow did (so this is love?). We'll see how it competes with ob/gyn...

The hours of Neuro/Psych were pretty sweet 8pm-5pm at most and I think I got a great experience from that schedule (I know many people had even shorter hours). However... I don't think anything would prepare me for the constant having-to-be-on-your-game feeling of Internal Medicine, and boy do those hours sometimes drag (my longest day was 7am-10pm). I was looking forward to medicine being a great learning experience, which it was, and a rite of passage (walking through fire maybe?). I look back on it with both fond and not so fond memories, and I will probably share a longer post on my 8 week stint in Internal Medicine, but for now, I think I'm destined for a different specialty. Sigh.

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