Night People Smart, Morning People Happy?

I remember as a kid staying overnight at my grandparents’ house during the summers – the days always seemed to start out with the two of them getting up at (what seemed to me) a ridiculously early hour. They’d sip black coffee and chat and my grandma would fry up some bacon and scramble an egg for my cousin and I when we finally rolled out of bed well after the sun had said it’s good mornings and roosters had crowed their songs.

“The early bird gets the worm!”

they’d say…or

“Early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

As intelligent as the two of them were and as much as I wish it was a joy for me to get up at 5:00am, this study researching circadian type or “diurnal preference” has left me feeling vindicated, to a degree, regarding my tendency towards late nights and mornings. Indicating the contrary of the old adage, the article seems to say that people who stay up late and sleep in are, in fact, a bit more intelligent. Did you really need proof in the form of a scientific study to show that you that night-owls are smarter? Yah, neither did I.

However, this study does say that “morningness” has a significant positive correlation with life satisfaction and I can definitely agree that I feel better and more productive when I get up early and get my day started with the sun (and a cup of caffeine).

So, what does all that tell us? Not much other than there are lots of studies out there looking into all sorts of things you’d never have expected. Interesting, to be sure – helpful, maybe not?

So, life satisfaction and intelligence-wise, who do you think wins? Night owls or morning glories?

I’d love to stick around and see what you all have to say, but none of your answers will change the fact that it’s 10pm and my alarm is set for 4:45am tomorrow. Wonder what forced early-rising is correlated with? I’m speculating a positive correlation with amount of caffeine consumed prior to 10am.

Image 1: photostock | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

365 Days of (Mobile) Photos – Week 19

November 2 – November 8

Day 127: Queen Mae and her cheetah toy minion.
Day 128: Art Heals Expo at the First Friday Art Trail. Always a blast.
Day 129: Coffee Date. 🙂 I missed him while I was on nights this week! I was gone before he got home in the morning and he got home after I left in the evenings. No fun!
Day 130: Hoarders - Medical Student Edition. Why (and HOW?!) could this much nonsense have ended up in my white coat pockets in just over a week?!
Day 131: Severed leg AND missing eye? Someone put poor mister cheetah outta his misery...
Day 132: Someone's starting to feel much better. 🙂 Barely limping and ready to run a marathon at barely 5 wks post major knee operation.

 

Day 133: Probably the only book I bought first year and still refer back to occasionally.

 

Why Medicine?

“Why Medicine?” – the second most common question I’m asked as a medical student (after “What kind of doctor do you want to be?”).

Not an easy question to answer, really – but a valid one and one I often ask to my interviewees during their medical school interviews. I think some people expect a profound, life-changing story about the ER physician who brought me back from the brink or an inspiring timeline of how I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 4. I don’t really have either of those.

In fact, as a child I would have sooner sacrificed my (once very valuable and excessively large) Beanie Baby collection than have voluntarily visited the doctor. Aspire to become one of those child-torturing, white-coat creatures? Uh, I don’t think so.

For a doctor’s appointment my mother once had to lie and tell me we were going somewhere really fun in order to lure me to into the car without me first flailing around on my grandmother’s porch in a hysteric fit (true story. I thought we were going to ride a Hot Air Balloon.We were going for vaccinations. She still feels guilty and is likely mortified I just told all of internet-land that story. Sorry Mom…now everyone knows you made one whole parenting mistake in all of my years under your care).

Erin from Healthy, Unwealthy & Becoming Wise* once asked me where passion in medicine comes from, if I think the desire to go into medicine is an innate desire or if it spurs from one’s abilities.

The way I see it, anything you are passionate about is a likely a final culmination of the people around you and the experiences you’ve had over the course of your life.

My mom is a wonderfully gifted nurse with an enormous heart for others. My dad is a exquisitely talented and astoundingly determined man who can learn to do anything he decides is worth his time. Their influence, paired with my immense and ever-present competitive nature, probably laid the foundation for my aspiration to do something that not only challenged me, but also helped others. However, these can’t be the only things that have given me a passion for medicine – there are plenty of non-medical professions that are both challenging and beneficial to society at large.

Initially, likely because it was attractive to my competitive side, I liked the challenge of trying to become a doctor. Soon enough some life events played out and I started seeing that medicine was something I was interested in for so many other reasons.

Life events like definitively removing graduate school from the table, my step-dad having a double-lung transplant, meeting our organ donor’s family and losing my Nana to breast cancer before she blew out her 60th birthday candles were occurrences that expanded my level of interest in the medical field. Eventually my goal had drastically matured from an alluring challenge to a deep-seeded aspiration.

Was it a genetic tendency? A God-given desire I could have never avoided? An innate longing that’s always been buried under the surface just waiting to come out? Who really knows?

All I know is that the life events which have led me to this point in my journey were all relatively small occurrences that, when lumped together, became large enough to influence my life-long aspirations. The way I was raised, my genetics, and the random outcomes of various chapters of my life all eventually came together and gave me the extra push of encouragement I needed to commit to volunteering my entire being to reaching a goal that, somewhere along the way, had been gradually laid out in front of me.

 

What’s your story? Why did you decide to go into medicine (or whatever field you are in)? Are you like me and it just happened over time or do you have more unique, life-changing experience that inspired you?

 

*A portion of this post was originally written as a guest blog on Healthy, Unwealthy & Becoming Wise.

 

Image 1: taoty | FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image 2: Kenneth Cratty | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

365 Days of (Mobile) Photos – Week 18

October 27 – November 2

Cute Puppy
Day 120: In the hospital for 15 hours today...Wrigley was all I managed to get a picture of...mostly cuz I just needed a picture.

 
Pumpkin Carving - Jack O Lanterns
Day 121: Halloween party at the neighbors house - some pretty sweet pumpkin-carving skills going on over there.

 
Bleeker & Juno for Halloween
Day 122: Juno & Bleeker for Halloween. 🙂 I got told twice to put my drink down because they seriously thought I was pregnant. Best pillow pregnancy ever.

 
Delivering Baby Mannequin
Day 123: Last week I learned to deliver a plastic baby in the Sim Lab...today I delivered a real one.

 
Starbucks - Why We Go Together So Well
Day 124: Donnie is so awesome - brought us coffee for Night Float. The saying on the cup is pretty accurate too. 🙂 Love him.

 
Hats With Bows
Day 125: Love these little bows they make for the hats they put on the baby girls.

 
New Simple Shoes
Day 126: New kicks.

 

Red Hair

A Little Red Change

Do you ever feel like you just need to make a change?

Not a big change. I never get the urge to auction my life off on Ebay (all yours for one low price – a Mazda, stressful medical exams, & crazy dogs! BUY NOW)…that’s going too far…especially for someone who gets palpitations thinking about changing blog headers and profile pictures.

Just little things.

I’m pretty good at neglecting my hair – last year I went a full 11 months without so much as a trim (I know…stop judging me…). Usually this is because I’m too lazy to get an appointment, lately it’s been because I’m ridiculously busy on my Ob/Gyn rotation.

But, today we got out of lecture unusually early and I decided I would make a change.

Red Hair

I’m still “processing” the new hair color, so please refrain from asking me to change my email address or Twitter icon for at least the next 6 weeks. I can only handle so much, people.

Now excuse me…the landline is ringing and I need to balance my check book.

 
 

Medical School in Canada

I was recently contacted by Jessica, a 21-year old 2nd year medical student at the University of Alberta in Canada, offering to teach us about Medical Education in Canada! She complete 3 years of undergrad in Vancouver, BC – her focus of study was Microbiology. Jessica runs the blog Atalanta’s Antics and also tells me she’s a film nut, choir director, hockey pseudo-player, actor, pianist and BBC fan. This chick is the dictionary definition of well-rounded, y’all.

If you’re new around here, let me explain. This post is an extension of the Medical Education Mondays series I started a while back. In addition to random Med Ed information, I’ve had an array of fabulous guest bloggers share info on medical school in the United States, Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Egypt, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, South Africa and the Dominican Republic. You can see these cool posts, as well as the rest of the Med Ed Monday series, here.

Jessica’s Talks Medical School in Canada (frank additions by me are in orange):

Getting In:

At what age does one typically begin medical school?
It varies. I started when I was 20, but I’m a bit young for my class since I got in after only 3 years of university. Technically, you only have to finish 2 years of undergrad to apply for the University of Alberta, but it’s extremely competitive at that point. Most people get in after finishing their Bachelor’s degree, so that makes them about 22-23 years old. There’s also a lot of Master’s and PhD students, as well as people who had a career before applying, so ages can range anywhere from 21 to 40. Other schools are different – some require a finished degree, while others essentially require a Master’s to be competitive.

What exams does one have to take to get in?
The big one is the MCAT, just like in the United States. It’s a 5-hour with 4 components:

  1. Physical Science (ex. physics, inorganic chem).
  2. Biological Science (ex. biology, organic chem).
  3. Verbal Reasoning (i.e. reading comprehension).
  4. Writing Sample.

The first 3 are multiple choice and each are bell-curved and scored out of 15 (i.e. one year, getting 49/52 may be a 14, another year may be a 12). The writing sample is ranked from J (lowest) to T (highest), so you end up with something like 10-9-10 R (29R). For the year I wrote it, I got a 11-11-11 Q (33Q), which was about the 86th percentile.

In addition to the MCAT, you also have to interview at each school you’re invited to, usually using the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) format. This consists of a series of stations, each with a different topic or ethical dilemma to discuss with an interviewer. So, you’re not judged solely on one interview by one panel, but rather on multiple topics by multiple people.

Is there any required pre-requisite coursework?
This also depends on the school. The U of Alberta requires some general chemistry, organic chem, biology, physics, English, statistics, and biochemistry. Other schools like the University of Calgary don’t have a set list of courses. That being said, you don’t have to be a science major to get in – in our class we’ve even got a photography major and a carpenter!

Is it a competitive occupation?
Yes. The acceptance rate is about 10% across the country, with about 50% of those getting interviews being accepted. Doctors are in extremely high demand right now, so they can make excellent money. It’s not uncommon for people to apply for several years before getting in. I applied to 3 schools and got interviews for all of them. However, I think due to my age, I was rejected from 2 and waitlisted for the school I’m in now. A few weeks later I was accepted, but there are a lot of excellent, intelligent people rejected each year.

What are you called at this stage of training?
Before getting in, you’re just an undergrad student. Some people identify themselves as “pre-med,” but given the 10% acceptance rate, I think it’s a bit presumptuous.

Being In:

How long is it?
Four years.

How are the years broken down?

  • Pre-Clinical: The first two years include mostly classwork, labs, and some clinical skills and patient interaction. The year is broken down into system “Blocks” that vary by school. In first year my school has Infection Inflammation Immunology (Triple I), Endocrine, Cardiology, Pulmonary, and Renal blocks. In second year, we do Gastrointestinal, Reproduction and Urology, Musculoskeletal (MSK), Neurology, and Oncology. Throughout the year, we also have Patient-Centered Care (PCC) classes, cadaver lab, an elective, and clinical skills.
  • Clinical: 3rd and 4th years are “clinical” years, where you do rotations in all the major fields: Pediatrics, General Surgery, Anaesthesiology, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Urban and Rural Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Specialty Surgery, and Geriatrics. There’s also elective time and a bit of mandatory lecture.

If you opt for the Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC) option, you spend your entire 3rd year in a rural community with no rotations, just learning everything at once and getting lots of hands-on experience.

Describe your typical day.
Applicable to pre-clinical years: Class usually starts at 8:00 with lecture for a few hours, followed by Discovery Learning (DL) where we get into small groups and work our way through some cases relevant to the block from diagnosis to treatment to prognosis. After lunch may be more lectures or clinical skills, depending on the week. Cadaver lab is Friday mornings with PCC on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons – right now, being in repro block, we’re practicing how to take a sexual history. There’s a quiz every Friday, so we really have to keep on top of our studying!

If you choose a specialty, when do you have to decide by?
Residency matching (CaRMS) is late in 4th year, so most people have it figured out by the beginning/middle of 4th year.

What are you called at this stage of training?
The lowly Medical Student. 😉

Getting Out:

What exams do you have to take?

  • At the end of 2nd year there’s a comprehensive exam and Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE, i.e. interviews, clinical skills, patient interaction…) on all the pre-clinical stuff.
  • At the end of 4th year, there’s the MCCQE Part I (Medical Counsel of Canada Qualifying Exam) – a multiple-choice and short-answer, all-day test on everything you’ve learned. You need to be able to draw on clinical experience and medical know-how to explain decision-making. This must be passed to move onto residency.
  • The MMC part II is basically a 3-hour OSCE that determines if you can move onto independent clinical practice.

Do most people graduate?
Absolutely. It’s extremely expensive to train a physician, so the faculty does everything in its power to make sure everyone graduates. People don’t usually drop out because of the difficulty, it’s almost always for financial or personal reasons. At my school we have a tradition that if everyone that enters 3rd year graduates, the dean of medicine wears white gloves to the convocation.

When are you finally considered a “doctor?”
Once you finish 4th year and pass your MCC part I, you’re considered a physician.

Do you have additional training after MS or do you start working immediately?
Yes – there’s residency for every field. Residents are paid, but it’s not nearly as much as when you’re finished with residency. You can also do a fellowship after completing residency, which is extra specialized training. Often these are done if the community where you plan to work needs a specific skill or if there are no jobs available in your specialty (currently common in cardiothoracic surgery) and you want something extra to put on your CV.

What’s the average debt for attendance?
It varies a bit by school, but tuition is around $13,000 per year, and many students expect to accumulate upwards of $60,000 in debt by the time they hit residency. Some students I know have $100,000 lines of credit that they use to condense living and academic expenses.

What are you called at this stage of training?
Once you pass the MCC part I and complete, 4th year, congrats! You’re now a physician!

Being Out:

What’s the average salary?
It varies by specialty and province and the numbers given by the College of Physicians and Surgeons aren’t very accurate, since a lot of people work part time in certain fields. On average, though, family physicians make around $200K, specialists make around $250K, and surgical specialists make around $350K.

Is the job security good?
Generally, yes. Once you have a job, you can keep it for as long as you want. The trick is finding the jobs, sometimes. For example, right now we’ve got an excess of cardiothoracic surgeons, so it’s difficult for them to find OR time.

Can you switch specialties?
Yes, it’s difficult, though. There are a lot of hoops to jump through since you basically have to be re-matched (into a new residency). However, about 80% of medical students across Canada get their first choice in residency matching, so it’s rare for someone to want to completely switch fields. You need an extremely good reason and must not be leaving a gap in your specialty for the College to allow you to re-specialize.

What are you called at this stage of training?
Resident Physician until residency training is complete, then fully-certified Physician.

 

Overall, medical training in Canada seems to be almost identical to medical training in the United States. If you look through the other Med Ed Monday posts you’ll see that this is a drastic difference from the layout of medical school in many other countries around the world.

Starbucks Stealing Canine

365 Days of (Mobile) Photos – Weeks 16 & 17

October 13 – October 26

 

Dogs on the Bed
Day 106: Wondered why it was so quiet...found this. Guess I'll make sure the bedroom door is completely closed next time I'm not paying attention to them.

 
Donnie & Danielle Jones
Day 107: Date Night at Carino's then movie!

 
Day 108: This little light of mine....

 
Couch Stain
Day 109: Not only did Mae jump the baby gate, she did it with a mouth full of salt water taffy. Any ideas on how to get THAT out of my couch?

 
Lubbock Texas Haboob
Day 110: I believe the technical term for today's event is haboob...I prefer disgusting.

 
Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
Day 111: Friend made Pumpkin Oatmeal muffins. Donnie didn't eat one...he stole it and saved it for breakfast.

 
Starbucks Stealing Canine
Day 112: It appears as though my study buddy could be plotting a coffee heist...

 
Coffee Art
Day 113: Pretty sure I have a picture almost just like this from exactly 8 weeks ago when I was studying for last rotation's shelf exam at Sugar Brown's. Moral of the story: Nothing interesting to take pictures of when you study all day. Good thing I didn't start this 1st year - woulda been 730 days of coffee pictures.

 
USA Map - We like Alaska
Day 114: You had to be there I guess.

 
Starbucks Day
Day 115: Hanging out at Starbucks with DRJ without having to study. I love the weekends between rotations!

 
Red Velvet Brownies
Day 116: Red Velvet Brownies. Today was great - lunch with Aunt Linda & Uncle Bob then World Series, delicious fajitas and good times with sweet friends.

 
Antique Car
Day 117: Sweet antique car at Walgreens.

 
Petrified Pre-Op Patient
Day 118: Is it just me, or does my OR patient look a little petrified?

 
Ob/Gyn Book
Day 119: First actual day of Ob/Gyn...pretty sure before today the last time I woke up at 4:30am on purpose I was still in diapers.


 
 

Hoarders: Med Student Edition

I’ve expressed my disdain regarding wearing my white lab coat many times around here – it’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, it’s germy – but something I’ve never allowed myself to admit is that sometimes it can be kind of useful (SOMETIMES. like when it’s not being annoying…or stiff…or disgusting). The pockets are just under 14 light years deep, so if you need to carry a galaxy or two with you into a patient room or 14 Red Bulls and a pint of icecream back from the cafeteria, you’re in luck.

It’s been just over a week since I last scavenged through this thing, here’s what I found in today’s weekly purging before the ceremonial washing of the MRSA mall:

  • 14 Alcohol Prep Pads
  • 1 Large Bandaid
  • 1 Maxwell Quick Reference book
  • 1 TTUHSC Ob/Gyn Clerkship Pocket Guide
  • 2 Prescription Examples
  • 2 Pens (unusually low tally)
  • 1 Highlighter
  • 1 Pyxis Scrub Machine Card
  • $21 in cash
  • $1.27 in change
  • 1 Pocket Vision Screener (obviously a necessity on L&D?)
  • 1 Ob/Gyn Clerkship Checklist
  • 4 Pieces of Blank Paper with Book Notes
  • 7 Active Patient Lists (not pictured for patient privacy)
  • 7 Page Journal Article on Intrapartum Amnioinfusion for Meconium-Stained Amniotic Fluid
  • 1 Discharge Medication List
  • 1 Patient Log List
  • 1 Daily OR Schedule

 

HOW?! WHY?! Please tell me I’m not the only one…please?

I suppose I should look at the good news, at least there wasn’t a speculum or wet prep hiding in there…I mean I am on Ob/Gyn right now.