Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Plastic Surgery Intern Year: Catching up on 6 months of Updates

1 month away from being a 2nd year Plastic Surgery Resident!

Can you believe that today is the first day of my LAST month of intern year?!?! This year has flown by incredibly fast! I have been severely slacking with update posts, and so much has happened since my last full update six months ago. My intent this year was to at least update everyone at the end of every month, but work and life distracted me from my favorite hobby of writing. I'll try my best to catch everyone up with this post, and for the sake of time, I'll try to keep it relatively brief since I know I can get a bit wordy.


I love my Plastic Surgery residency family!

During my last official update, I had just finished my Mohs and Surgical Dermatology month in November and was headed into Emergency Medicine for December. I'm not going to lie, after two years of working in the urgent care setting, being in the ER was super chill for me. I enjoyed the shift work, the variety of cases, and being able to have time for a little fun. The past few months have been a bit of a blur, but in December, my highlights were participating in a craniomaxillofacial cadaver lab with my residency program, and I remember the wonderful feeling of going to the beach in the middle of December, enjoying the 80 degree weather, and just loving life.


Celebrating my birthday with my favorite lady docs :)

January sucked! My rotation for the month was ICU and it was also during the time when COVID cases were crazy. I don't have anything good to say about the month other than my birthday was on the last day of the rotation, so after I finished that day I happily went out to celebrate both being finished with ICU and making it to see another year of life with some of my favorite lady docs :)

16-course menu at Joel Robuchon Bucket List item complete!

February was a bit more relaxed and I was back in the operating room for my Neurosurgery rotation. It was my first time having to operate under a microscope, and I struggled a bit trying to suture under it. I have a horrible habit of hunching over and getting close to suture, so that month I was forced to stand up straight and work on proper technique. The cases were pretty cool and it was something I wasn't exposed to much previously, so I learned a lot. I also went on a late birthday celebration vacation trip to Las Vegas toward the end of February, and it was epic! I stayed in an incredible suite at the MGM Grand Skylofts at ridiculously cheap price (yay for off season birthdays and pandemic prices!), and I checked a major item off my bucket list: the 16-course menu degustation at Joel Robuchon restaurant. It was a much needed break and reprieve from the trauma of the previous month.


Survived my first Plastic Surgery In-Service Exam


March was a bit busier, but it wasn't too bad. I took my Plastic Surgery In-Service exam during the first week of the month and I was happy to get it over with. There's definitely room for improvement, but at least now I know what to expect and how to strategize my studying. My rotation for the month was Trauma/General Surgery. It kept me busy, but I really enjoyed the hospital I was rotating at, and the attendings let me do a lot in the operating room. My favorite moment was probably when we had a laparoscopic appendectomy (appendix removal using small incisions and a camera) and the attending stood patiently waiting for a while as I tried to find the appendix. It was a highlight because it was probably my first time having laparoscopic tools in both hands and taking charge. I gave up after a while and it turned out to be a difficult case (the appendix was retrocecal, severely inflamed, and there was pus everywhere), but I appreciated the fact that I was given the chance to try on my own. It's the little things that make me happy.


SNMA AMEC 2022


My rotation for April was Anesthesia. I had never rotated in it when I was a medical student, so it was kind of cool being behind the curtain. I definitely was not used to being able to sit in the operating room and I never really realized how cold it is when you're not scrubbed in. The best part of the month was being able to scrub into plastic surgery cases after I helped with sedating and intubating the patient. April was my first time being able to operate with my program director and alongside some of my co-interns since we're usually spread out at different locations and rotations, so I really enjoyed the month. Oh, and I almost forgot: I got to attend the Annual Medical Education Conference for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) in Orlando, FL in April where I held a workshop for premedical students, served as MC for the President's Luncheon where I addressed some of the 3000+ attendees, and reunited with some of my faves. 


#BlackGirlMagic in the Operating Room

Last month (May), I was back on General Surgery and at my main hospital. The attendings let me do more and more each day, and I've found that I'm starting to get comfortable with operating and trying new things. The only thing that I was so-so about last month was being on home call. One part of me loves being able to relax at home, shower, and sleep in my own bed during my call shifts, but the other part of me did not like all the gas I used having to drive back and forth between the two hospitals I was covering for consults, or the fact that home call means no post call days. Call is call though, and it's a necessary evil that no resident can get away from. My favorite part of the month was the #BlackGirlMagic moment pictured above. My hospital currently only has three black surgical residents (myself, my orthopedic surgery buddy, and the general surgery resident pictured with me above), so you already know I have to capture the rare and magical moments when we get to operate together :)



As for June, I started Plastic Surgery today! I am so happy to be spending the month in my specialty and I look forward to all the exciting things I'll learn this month. It will be a healthy mix of clinic days with operating days, and a good transition into my second year of residency. 


So proud of my daughter!

Whew! I think that's a solid catch up on all the months I missed updating everyone on. I don't have much else going on that's not work related outside of my daughter and she's doing well. As a matter of fact, I just posted about her the other day on my social media accounts because I was having a proud mommy moment. She just finished the school year and is now a 10th grader, has been working on her driving skills, staying involved with band and color guard, and is just an all-around awesome individual. It's crazy how when I started this blog in 2013, she was a tiny little elementary aged kid and now she's only a couple of years away from graduating high school and heading to college. Time flies!


Literally living my prayers and dreams!


I think that's all I have in terms of updates. To be honest, even though this year has been busy and not every moment is a happy one (it's residency, so not every day is as upbeat as my blog appears...I just choose to focus on the positives), every day I wake up incredibly blessed to be living my dreams. It wasn't too long ago when I was praying just for the chance to be where I am now. There have been many twists and turns along the way, but I love this journey I'm on and wouldn't change it for the world. Thank you to all those who continue to follow along on my journey and I appreciate those of you who stuck around from the very beginning of this blog when people doubted I would even make it through medical school. I've done and I am doing every thing I said I would do, and life really doesn't get much better than that. I am living proof that God's plan is the perfect plan, and I not only look forward to what my future has in store, but I hope my journey continues to uplift and inspire anyone reading this to pursue your own dreams. 



Monday, March 14, 2022

A Post for the Unmatched (Match Day 2022)

From unmatched to matched! 

I’ve been slacking on posts this year, mainly due to busy rotations and studying for my most recent in-service exam, but today I felt compelled to write. For those who aren’t aware, today is Match Day where thousands of 4th year medical students and graduates find out if they have secured a residency position. For many, this is a joyous day filled with celebrations and sighs of relief, but for the unmatched, this can be one of the most depressing experiences of an entire medical school career.

Most of you reading this already know that I was previously one of those students who failed to match, but if you weren’t aware, I’ll post links to my original Match Day experiences at the end of this blog post. My story isn’t one of not matching one year and then going on to match the following year. I actually failed to match twice! I still vividly remember how gut-wrenching it felt opening a “You Did Not Match” email as I was sitting at a stoplight on the way to my rotation as a fourth-year medical student, and how hard it was to fake positivity during phone interviews that day when all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and cry. The second time I didn’t match, I was in the middle of my original intern year on a busy surgery service. I was fortunate to know in advance I would not be matching, but having to manage patients and scrub into cases in between going through the process of applying to unfilled programs didn’t make things any better.

In the end, everything worked out perfectly in my favor, and I was shown that God’s timing is always perfect. After not matching the first time around, I was blessed with a position for a General Surgery based Traditional Rotating Internship. It was a grueling year, but I definitely came out stronger and it opened so many doors for me. After I didn’t match the second time, I had the benefit of having passed all my medical board exams and I was almost done with twelve months of post-graduate training which allowed me to obtain a medical license and start working. My two years spent working as an urgent care physician allowed me to become comfortable managing acute issues on my own, gave me the freedom to enjoy life on my own terms, and provided the financial means to apply to as many surgery programs as possible during my third application cycle.

Tomorrow marks exactly one year from when I found out I matched into Plastic Surgery. It was probably one of the happiest moments of my life, but to be honest, the whole match process still gives me a little PTSD. I remember the weeks leading up to receiving the “Congratulations, You Have Matched!” email and how incredibly stressed out and defeated I felt. I honestly didn’t even want to open the email when it came because I was sure it would be another year of disappointment, and I only did so because I wanted to be ready for the process of applying to unfilled positions.

For those who may not have matched today, I’m just going to keep it real with you. Not matching sucks, and unless someone has been in your shoes, they probably won’t understand your pain. You’ve busted your ass working towards your goal, have most likely spent an insane amount of money applying to residency programs, and sacrificed so much in the process. It’s also probably hard to envision your future right now. Trust me, I’ve been there. But please know that this is not the end of the road for you. This is just a minor setback for a major comeback. Take the time to grieve and experience your feelings, and afterwards, get ready to get back in the fight. It isn’t over yet. There is still time this week to secure one of the unfilled residency positions via the process known as SOAP. There may also be positions that open up until July, and if you’re someone who is going unmatched after completing a preliminary year, keep in mind there may be a chance to jump into an unfilled PGY2 position. As I’ve said before, delay does not equal denial, and chances are you will either get to where you want to be eventually or find something even better that you probably never could have imagined. Let my story inspire you to know that anything is possible.

My DMs are open and I’m rooting for you.

 

My Previous Match Day experiences:

2018 - Not matching as a 4th year medical student

2019 Part One: Not Matching for the 2nd time (Part one)

2019 Part Two: Not matching a 2nd time (Part Two)

2021 - I finally matched!



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