Five Reasons Mind On Med (and @daniellenjones) Won’t Disappear For Interviews

As Match Day for the Class of 2012 quickly fades into the background and residency applications for my class begin to appear on the (horrendously terrifying, Wizard of Oz tornado-esque) horizon, I find my classmates starting to disappear (or discuss disappearing) from Facebook and other socially-oriented websites.

“Are you taking your blog down for application and interview season?” someone innocently asked, “I mean, some program directors just may not appreciate the ‘social media’ involvement as much as you do.”

The question, while valid by many accounts, irked me a bit – of course I’m not taking down Mind On Medicine for residency applications. 

Why? Let me give you a few reasons.

1. I have nothing to hide.

If I were to take down my blog for residency applications and interviews it would imply I have written something here that I need to hide from my “higher-ups.” I don’t write about patient specifics, in fact I can think of only one time I’ve even written vaguely of a patient interaction, and I don’t write negatively about classmates or residents or attendings. I just write. About medical school, about my life, about funny stuff, about serious stuff…I just write. This is my hobby and I enjoy it, why would I hide that from anyone?

2. It seems a bit dishonest.

If I did take it down what would happen when I started residency? I’d put Mind On Medicine back up and eventually someone would ask why it conspicuously disappeared for the period of time I was applying and interviewing? Awkward turtle. 

3. It’s sort of on my CV.

Not explicitly, but in a round-a-bout kind of way. I was recently published in one of my school’s magazines and the article mentioned this blog. So, if someone were to read my lone “publication” and attempt to visit Mind On Med from that reference only to find I had deleted it…well, that’d be a little weird. I’ve also received some opportunities from this blog that are included on my CV – being a founding medical student of Health Tap University, working with Doximity, a job writing reviews for iMedicalApps, attending and participating as a panel member at an upcoming Doximity Leadership Summit – and I’m sure at some point in my interviews it will come up how I stumbled upon at least one of these awesome, non-traditional opportunities. These are seriously amazing things I’ve had the chance to be a part of all from being involved in social media…I really just want to paste it everywhere so people can see the benefit, not hide it like a red-headed step-child*.

4. I’m proud of my writing & involvement.

I consider my involvement in social media more than just a haphazard manner of sharing what I had for breakfast (although, I do occasionally share what I have for breakfast…especially when it’s cookies…or vending machine crap…), it’s a way for me to learn. I have gained so much from being involved in social media, more than just cool opportunities. Not only do the people I’ve met teach me as much as the people I interact with “in real life,” they’re helping me network, expand my career and, maybe most importantly, open my mind to ideas, lifestyles, & beliefs I wasn’t previously familiar with. There are so many people on Twitter who have taught me how to be a better physician in the future and I am so grateful – these opportunities have been overwhelmingly valuable to me.

5. What a freakin’ hassle!

Umm…I’m not entirely sure what all would go into making this blog disappear for a certain amount of time, but I am confident I do not want to deal with that! I worked too hard creating a blog, moving it to WordPress, designing a Header, organizing, changing, adding, subtracting and editing to make this thing disappear. It’s a work of art (notably included in the “my-3-year-old-could’ve-finger-painted-that-what’s-it-doing-in-the-Smithsonian” genre).

 

A while back my internet friend (oh, – reason #6 – if I hide my internet existence it knocks me down to 2 friends total…and one is married to me…so I really can’t afford delete myself at this point) and Mind On Med guest blogger, Allison from MD2B, wrote a post called “My Social Media Manifesto” in which she, much more gracefully and intelligently than I, described some fabulous reasons for keeping her internet presence around during application and interview season. Hop on over and give it looksy…good stuff.

So, there you have it – the 5 reasons I am not using the Abracadabra dust to make me internet-invisible come September.

Agree? Disagree? What are your reasons for keeping (or Control-Alt-Deleting) your online presence for application season?

 

Image: graur codrin | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*No offense meant to red headed step-children. I myself am a step-child…and am currently sporting hair in a shade of red. I did not take offense to that statement, so neither should you. If you did I need you to evaluate your life and discover what your evil step-mother did with your sense of humor. It’s likely locked in the cold, dark basement she kept you in when you weren’t mopping floors.

 

Dogs That Eat Bugs & Spiders That Eat People

If you know me in real life (or even just read this blog or my Twitter occasionally) you’ve probably figured out that I have three dogs who are equal parts crazy and awesome (and by equal parts I mean 97.4% crazy, 2.6% awesome). They occasionally wreak havoc on the neighborhood, but once in a while will do cool things like keep me from getting a speeding ticket….or save my life when my husband isn’t home.

A bit of a back story:

I am terrified of spiders. Terrified may not be the right word, more like completely phobic of them. It’s seriously irrational and absolutely ridiculous, but I cannot control. In Psych I learned that I qualify for an actual diagnosis based on the DSM criteria for specific phobias.

One summer night after my freshman year of college I was staying at my mom’s house overnight while she was out of town or something. After I ate dinner that night I walked around the corner and into the hallway to find what can only be described as an octo-legged, girl-eating monster staring me down from the rug. My first inclination was to run for my life and scream for someone to kill it.

Then I remembered I was home by myself for at least the next 24 hours and at some point I would probably need to go down that hallway, considering it was the only way to get to the either of the bathrooms in the house…whose idea was that design?

This wasn’t just any spider, either – it was a wolf spider. If you’ve never encountered one of these satan-filled creatures be warned, they not only have the ability to jump Mr. Chow-style right at your face, but they are also not more afraid of you than you are of them…especially if you’re me.


Now, I never kill spiders if I have a choice, but if I’m the only one around I’d rather knock the sucker off on my own than let it run under a couch so it can hunt me down while I sleep, therfore Raid is a staple in my house.

Unfortunately, I was staying at my mom’s house and while she did have Raid, it was the type that’s meant for taking down wasp nests…basically it shoots chemicals out with the force of a fire hose in attempt to drown an entire nest of flying aggressors before they can attack you in buzz-filled anger.

I seriously considered going to the neighbors house and having them come help me out, but I was afraid it would disappear before they came and then I’d be forced to sleep in my car.

Anyway, I used the Wasp Raid from approximately 12 feet away to knock the creature off (along with his friend who appeared in what I can only assume was an attempt to save his buddy or claim revenge on the buddy’s murderer) and it got the job done…in fact I’m pretty sure any insect within a 30 feet radius likely encountered rolling waves of bug-killer emanating from the pond created by my weapon of choice.

I then proceeded to leave the body on the floor under a large bowl until my mom could get home and dispose of the body the next day. That night I tiptoed past the body, locked the bedroom door and slept on top of the covers with my chemical-filled fire hose in hand.

Because I was afraid it would wake back up and come for it’s revenge? I don’t know…it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway:

A bit more recently I was sitting cross-legged in my desk chair reading about the Kreb’s Cycle or something equally interesting and was totally ignoring Wrigley, who was playing with what I thought was a toy right under my chair.

When he started growling I almost didn’t even hear him, he does it all the time – usually when he’s playing or trying to get my attention.

Why does he growl?

Because, by failing to appropriately channel my inner Cesar Milan, I praised him for it when he was a baby. Come on! It was just so cute. Imagine a little 2-lb baby Wrigley growling at your toes.

You know it’s cute. You would have encouraged it, too. Stop judging me.

When the growling evolved into a manic bark accompanied by insane cat-like scratching I finally glanced down to figure out what all the commotion was about. I’m sure you can guess what I found – a (slightly smaller but still rather large) creepy arachnid hanging out right where my feet would have gone had I uncrossed my legs.

It was in about four pieces by the time I looked down, which was totally gross, but I guess that’s my fault for ignoring the dog’s initial warnings of what I would call danger and I’m sure Wrigley would call total-excitement-slash-yummy-snack.

So, my 20 lb dog basically saved me from the heart attack that would’ve occurred had I set my feet down on top of that thing and since then he’s alerted me to numerous other offenders in the house.

It’s like he can sense that I need someone to protect me from them…

or he likes to eat bugs.

Either way it’s a win-win…and that’s why I no longer get onto my dog for eating bugs. 

Image 1 and 3 | WowFunniestPosts.com

Image 2 | GIFSoup.com

What’s your biggest fear?!

10 Blogging Rules To Follow

I used to resist referring to myself as a “blogger,” it just seemeds like such a large shoe to fill with people out there who write so much more graciously (and humorously) than I…and often about more important things. I guess after this much time I can start to embrace being called a blogger, even though I still feel a bit like a fraud saying that. Occasionally, people will ask me how to start a blog or if I have any tips for them as they work towards creating a space for their thoughts. Here’s a few rules I try to follow for myself, most of which are based more on my experiences as a reader than as a writer – the things I appreciate in blogs I look up to and enjoy.

Wordy Version:

The beauty of blogging is that if someone doesn’t like what you’re writing about, they don’t have to read it. So, own your material, whether boring, hilarious, informative or crazy, it is yours and you created it. No matter how your blog evolves, and it should be allowed to evolve, it needs to always be yours. I started this blog as a mostly personal blog and it has evolved into a conglomeration of medical school, personal stories and general information. Write about what you want and be open to your blog growing and changing along the way.

If you are happy with what you’re writing, that is all that matters. Always write posts that are worth reading, but remember that a post worth reading is one that you think is worth reading. This is your space and you get to decide what does or does not belong, what is or is not worth reading. You may not think reading about my crazy dogs or life timeline is interesting, but I love those posts and having them recorded here is more than worth it to me.

So often I see people not write for three days…or three weeks…or three months…and come back apologizing. Unless you are Frank of PostSecret, it’s highly unlikely people are sitting around fretting over the fact that you took a blogging break…in fact they may have not even noticed you went on hiatus. Sometimes life (or a surgery rotation) happens and you can’t write. It’s okay…don’t come back apologizing, just come back. Pick up where you left off – you have nothing to apologize for. In that same vein, take some time off for crying out loud! The internet isn’t going anywhere, we’ll all be here when you come back.

This is especially important if you’re just starting out with your writing – set goals for how often you want to write, how long your posts should be, etc. When I first started blogging my goal was to write one post per week, because any more than that seemed overwhelming at the time. Now I really just write when I feel like I have something to say that’s more than 140 characters, but at first I wasn’t always sure I had something to say until I just sat down and started saying it.

Your readers deserve your attention – they are visiting your blog and reading your content, the least you can do is listen! If a reader disagrees with your opinion, welcome it…accept it…discuss it. The only way to grow in this life is be open-minded and you can’t do that by immediately discounting opinions other than your own. If a reader emails you, respond. If someone poses an interesting view or question in a comment, write back to them or create a post in response. Find ways to engage and interact, it will serve you well in the future.

Post a link to your blog on your Twitter or Facebook if it seems appropriate, but don’t only post links to your blog. Nobody likes a spammer. If the only thing you ever tweet is “HEY CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG” your only followers are going to be that naked girl who tweets links to diet pills and her friend who has the miracle acne cure.

The Golden Rule of blogging – link your references. If you reference an article or another blog or a person or a tweet – link it! It’s common courtesy, you’d want your work linked back. And please don’t steal photos, use a creative commons-type source for your pictures and link back to their photographer. Don’t Google Image search and include those pics in your post, this is not only basic courtesy…it’s avoidance of plagiarism, which we all learned about in 2nd grade. Cut & Copy = Plagiarism.  Sometimes you simply can’t remember where you read something you reference and that’s fine, but cite your sources if at all possible.

If you are posting 4 times per day you are overloading your readers. Once per day is fine, less is great, more is definitely overkill. Others may disagree with this one, but I delete any blog that regularly has more than once per day out of my reader (barring the occasional blog with multiple authors or which aggregates info & posts from other sources). Almost universally anyone who has that much to say rarely has anything to say that is really worth reading.

This may be the most important rule of them all – posts need a format. Use bullet points, headings, numbering and formatting. Break up your post with images if relevant. Make your writing look pretty – remember in junior high when you’d have to write papers and make them double-spaced? Same principle. It is no lie when I say I will often spend an hour writing and 2 hours formatting a post…it’s just that important.

Barring the rare exception, posts should not be extremely long. I typically write a post and come back to it the next day to whittle it down to the important stuff. Fluff is not your friend in blog-land.

 

Bottom Line:

  1. Own your space & teach it about Darwinian Theory.
  2. Be proud of work you create and create work you are proud of.
  3. Never apologize for time off, nobody even noticed you were gone.
  4. Set goals for yourself, especially in the beginning.
  5. Interact with readers and embrace opposing opinions as opportunities to grow.
  6. Don’t be an annoying spambot or annoying spambots will be your only followers.
  7. Follow the Golden Rule: Link back to others as you’d want others to link back to you.
  8. Don’t flood your readers…nobody can write 5 great posts every day, not even you.
  9. Make posts easy to read, formatting can make or break your writing.
  10. Fluff is for Build-A-Bears, Moon Pies and school essays, not blogs.

 

What rules do blog authors that you appreciate and look up to consistently follow? What would you add or subtract from my list?

 

Image: Michal Marcol | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ob/Gyn Clerkship

I finished up my Ob/Gyn rotation at the end of December, right before we headed out for our awesome New Zealand adventure, and never got around to telling y’all about it…so here we go!

Obstetrics & Gynecology

This is a specialty that deals solely with all the amazing (and occasionally scary and not-so-amazing) things the female reproductive tract can do.

Obstetrics is derived from the latin word “obstare” which means “to stand by.” Obstetricians take care of women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, in the process of becoming un-pregnant or who have recently given birth. It’s a unique field in that it requires the physician take care of two patients who are literally joined together for a time.

Gynecology is the counterpart of the field of obstetrics and deals with normal physiology, as well as disease, of the female reproductive tract. It involves everything from surgery to clinical preventative care and encompasses a large array of normal and abnormal medicine.

The Clerkship

  • 8 Weeks: Rotations on Labor & Delivery, Night Float, Outpatient Obstetrics, Reproductive Endocrinology, Inpatient Gynecology, Outpatient Gynecology and Gynecological Oncology
  • Occasional lectures, practice clinical exams on Fridays
  • Night Float: A week on the L&D floor at night, 5:30pm – 7:30am. Includes attending births and delivering multiparous patients, as well as triaging patients who come in with obstetrical issues
  • Labor & Delivery: Basically identical to night float, but in the day-time hours
  • Outpatient: Straightforward obstetrics and gynecology clinics, including some time in ultrasound, high-risk Ob & general clinics
  • Reproductive Endocrinology: A field I enjoy immensely, helping women with fertility issues achieve & sustain pregnancy
  • Gynecological Oncology: Diagnosis & treatment of cancers of the female reproductive tract
  • Inpatient Gynecology: Benign surgical gynecology

Daily Life

  • Varies greatly depending on what week of the rotation we were on. Outpatient clinic is generally 8am – 5pm, while surgical specialties tended to have longer hours and Labor & Delivery/Night Float is a pretty set 12-ish hour day.

Ob/Gyn Clerkship Books

        

What I Like

  • The Patients: By & large the population in this field is young, healthy patients getting routine care…there are exceptions, but the “bread and butter” of Ob/Gyn is the young, healthy woman.
  • The Field: I don’t know why it didn’t strike me until I was in the midst of this rotation, but this area of medicine has always been my favorite intellectually. Studying for this rotation wasn’t studying for me, it was interesting. In anatomy pelvis & perineum was my best (and favorite) section, reproductive physiology was by far my favorite…and reproductive endocrinology could hold my attention for hours. I just find it interesting & exciting.
  • Variety: A little bit of clinic, a little bit of surgery, a little bit of boredom and a little bit of adrenaline…all around fun!
  • Happiness: Sure, when things are bad in Obstetrics they are really bad and usually involve a lot of sadness. However, this is one of the only fields of medicine that deals extensively with happiness. People are never excited to be in the hospital, but if they get to leave with a baby it definitely offers some consolation…much happier than being admitted for a ruptured aortic aneurysm or acute kidney failure or alcoholic liver cirrhosis.
  • Surgery: I thought I would hate everything about surgery…when I didn’t it threw me for a loop. Until this rotation I would say I was about 90% sure I was going into Pediatrics, because I seriously thought I would hate being in the OR. Now, I’m not sure.
  • Active: This field is a lot about doing – even in clinic. You’re always doing something, which helps keep me focused and maintain my attention…pap smears, biopsies, surgeries, deliveries, ultrasounds, etc. Lots of activity in Ob/Gyn.

What I Dislike

  • Family Friendliness: It’s no secret that surgical fields are less family friendly than non-surgical fields. However, this is rapidly changing with each graduating class of new physicians. I experienced no negativity towards women in Ob/Gyn who have a family, but it wasn’t as overtly supportive as some of the other rotations have been.
  • Hours: Unpredictable hours can be frustrating for planning the rest of your life.

Going into this rotation I knew I would love the Obstetrics part, I have a real interest in all things reproductive (hardy har, keep the jokes to yourself…this blog is family friendly…usually) and thus knew I would seriously enjoy the part of the rotation that dealt with Ob. So, why did I never really consider this a career option for myself? I figured I would hate the Gynecology & surgery part of it.

And…when I didn’t it threw a loop in my life plans. Now I’m not sure what I want to do with my life…

It’s like I can hear the time ticking away…things I need to get done that aren’t getting done…letters of recommendation, away rotations, personal statements. AH!

But, like my mom told me the other day – I guess it’s better to like two areas & not be able to choose one than to go through all of this and hate everything.