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The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Archive for December 11th, 2010

11 Thing I don’t need – Reverb 10, Day 11

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December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

On first reading, I took this as eleven things that currently exist in my life that I want to get rid of for/during 2011. Nope, that wasn’t doing it for me. Instead, I am reading it as a more general “what are 11 things that could be in your life in 2011, that you really don’t want to be in your life.” Ah-ha! That gives me something to talk about. (And now I have this song stuck in my head.)

1. A bad Step 1 score.
To get into college, you take the SATs or the ACTs. To get into medical school, you take the MCAT. To get into a US residency, the only way to become a licensed practicing physician in the US, you take the Step 1 (and both Step 2s, and the Step 3). Of the three/four tests, the Step 1 is the most important for getting into residency. It’s my new MCAT/SAT score, and it’s far more important than my grades this year. If I fail the exam, I can retake it until I pass, but if I pass with a bad score? That’s it. That’s my score. I’m not aiming for a competitive specialty like Radiology or Dermatology, but I am aiming for options, and options means a good score. I’m taking the test in June, and it’s kind of a scary thing to have looming over my head.

Some schools give their students a long time to take the test. Mine gives us four weeks & a weekend between second and third year, during which we get to study for the test and then take it. Apparently it’s enough, and I plan to make the most of it and study my ass off (pardon the language). Originally I had wanted to get at least a week off before third year to relax, but I think a good score is more important to my longterm mental health.

2. Pass Grades on my Tests
I may or may not have had two Pass grades this year so far. No more! One of them was expected, and honestly, I was aiming for it, but the other one was a surprise and that’s not the good kind of surprise. High Pass and Honors next year, please. Honestly, not having Pass grades won’t make a big difference, except for the fact that a better grade means I’m learning the material better, which will be necessary for the Step 1.

3. More Loans
Med school has me about $56K in debt right now. Ouch. Unfortunately, there isn’t really much I can do about it except to keep living within or under the given budget and make sure to apply for financial aid on time (ha, like that ever happens; they’re really accommodating though, thankfully). Fewer loans would have me feeling a bit better about my financial future though. Not that I feel terribly insecure, but it’s a burden in the back of my mind that I already can’t wait to be free of. I like feeling like my money is actually mine.

4. An ego
Honestly, I don’t have much of one. But I better keep what I do have in check once I start my rotations next year. I need to be as pleasant and eager (but not too eager!) as possible, a consummate team player all around! Why? Well, it’s the right way to be as part of a team, but also because Letters of Recommendation are about as important as my Step 1 score. Also, my grades next year are much more important than this year, and they’re also going to be much more subjective than this year. It will be a little less about what I know, and more about how much it seems I know and how competent and reasonable I am. Thankfully, I’m really good at appearing competent and reasonable.

5. More Foods Ruined
Medicine is really fond of describing things using food. I thankfully don’t have a strongly visual mind, so I’m not always going to be thinking of yeast pseudohyphae when I see spaghetti and meatballs (or when I eat cottage cheese… Sigh). But still. It’s a bit unpleasant. Unfortunately, this is going to happen anyway and there’s nothing I can do about it but to keep a strong division in my head between food as a medical descriptor and food as the actual things that I eat.

6. More Blogs in Google Reader
I keep adding blogs! Largely because I’ve really downsized what I allow myself to do online, so adding more subscriptions to google reader is a way around that. However, I’ve also started unsubscribing to blogs, because sometimes after a few months of reading someone’s stuff, you’ve gleaned all you’re going to and it’s time to move on. So next year, I need to stop adding blogs, or at least keep unsubscribing at the rate that I subscribe. At least I don’t compulsively read the entire archives of blogs anymore? Most of the time?

7. A Caffeine Addiction
I’ve made it this far without developing one, and I’d like to continue. This directly leads into the next one:

8. Sleep Deprivation
This will be hard. I’ve heard through the grapevine that some rotations equal eighty hour work weeks. Um, ouch. I thought that was what residency was for? It will be a struggle to stay sane and get enough sleep, without relying on caffeine. I’m going to have to be strict with my time management, and probably rely a lot more heavily on setting timers. I lose track of time really easily. Like right now. It’s 5:30 already?! But it was just 4:40…

9. A Bad Diet
Like sleep, healthy eating will be a bigger struggle next year. Healthy eating cheaply will be an even bigger struggle. I might be putting our chest freezer to even better use next year, because I refuse to live on premade frozen dinners (usually unhealthy or too expensive or both). Sardines will also be a very good friend next year. And thought it’s tempting to lean heavily on the ability to put lots of cheese on anything to make it taste good, I’ll need to resist that, because dairy is one of those things I actively try to eat in light moderation.

10. Favoring the future over the present
I’ve always been terrible about this, and I need to keep working on it. I’m always thinking about what comes next, and sometimes that means I’m missing what’s going on right now. As wonderful as the idea of being a doctor is, and being somewhere not this city or state where there’s a bigger airport hub, maybe being somewhere without drastic seasons, really hopefully being in the same city or at least state as my boyfriend… All those things would be wonderful, but they’re not now. Their time will come. There’s some great things going on in my life right now and I need to pay more attention to them.

11. Being sick
I haven’t had a cold in years now. My allergies have popped up, my digestive system’s a very special snowflake, and I get cold really easily, but I haven’t been actually sick in a while. We’ll see how I survive spending most of my time in a hospital… I think I’ll be okay, but I hear that’s it’s almost impossible not to catch something when you work with kids, and I’ll probably have to do some pediatrics at some point.

I apologize for the wordiness! I’m a bit verbose by nature when I write and I really need to get back to studying. I’ll probably edit this down later.

Written by Aba

December 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm

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