I'm Officially a Fourth Year!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How about that! Another year of school is over. I successfully finished my Family Medicine rotation last week and then took my last set of boards (COMLEX CE) on June 23. Let the 6 week wait for my scoress begin!

It's crazy to think that I will be an intern this time next year (fingers crossed). I will finally have a place to call "home", a career, and a PAYCHECK!

In the meantime, I just finished up my last little vacation before the whirl wind of sub-Is, away rotations, and interview season begins. We just got back from Florida where we spent several days relaxing with friends. Our friends were kind enough to invite down to their family house right on the water. Even though it was pretty humid and warm, it was such a fun time! Most days began with coffee and breakfast by the pool. Usually the husbands left around 9 to go fishing on the boat while us ladies hung around the pool all day - reading and laughing the morning away. At lunch time the men would show off their fishing haul and we would all have a quick lunch before settling in for more pool time until we went out to dinner.

Aside from a Tampa Rays baseball game and a night out in Tampa, we keep things pretty low key. Bed by 10 most nights after a few episodes on Netflix (Scrubs...because all future doctors watch Scrubs.) Sound boring? No. AWESOME. Sleep is such a beautiful thing. I cherished it after many weeks of exam-provoked insomnia and anxiety.

Tomorrow I start my fourth year of medical school. Another month in Pediatrics, mostly Inpatient. I can't wait to play with babies all day! Thankful to not come home and cram board studying in, that's for sure. Still, now its time to turn my attention to the list of things I have been neglecting or half-working on - Personal Statement, CV, ERAS application, and checking up on all those letters of rec.

Updates and catch up posts are forthcoming!

Auto Pilot

Monday, May 23, 2016

The funny thing about life is that you eventually fall into a routine. One day bleeds into the next and before you know it, a week has past. Two weeks. A month. You're drifting along in life, functioning but not really feeling it. Until your whole life comes screeching to a halt. Time to take notice.

A little over two weeks ago my mom called with the news that my Grandpa was back in the hospital, a place he has been visiting with greater frequency in the past few years. From the sound of her voice and the urgency of her text messages, I could tell that this time was different. He was very, very sick. Thankfully, I was able to make arrangements with my preceptors to go home to Cincinnati. I will forever be grateful to the flexibility and understanding that those doctors showed me. I was able to take some time to be present with my family. What a gift.

On Saturday, May 7, 2016, we lost the greatest man I've ever known. For all intents and purposes, he was the best father-figure I've ever had in my life. He was my biggest cheerleader and supported me in all of my endeavors. (Especially my decision to attend Indiana University). 

To my Papa, being a lifelong learner was paramount. He said "get your education, no one can ever take that away from you." Most importantly, he inspired me to pursue medicine because of his long battle with Multiple Sclerosis and remains one of my biggest motivations to get that D.O. degree. 

If you knew him, you would know that even though life isn't fair it can still be wonderful. That even though not everyone is kind, you can still "kill them with kindness." You would know that you get out of life what you put in and you are only as strong as the people you surround yourself with. Most of all, if you knew him, you would know what it means to live life fearlessly and to love your family with all your heart. That's who my Papa was and I hope to make him proud every single day.

Loss. It's something we all deal with. Many, many times over. One of the worst things about losing someone you love is that everything and everyone else keeps going. There is no pause button. There is no sacred time to mourn and unplug. You just keep going. Work beckons, books beg to be studied, meals should be prepared and eaten, bills need to be paid. And yet there is a tremendous hole where a special person used to be. 

I feel fortunate to have had 26 years with my grandpa. To learn from him. To answer trivia questions and challenge in Jeopardy. To share Eli's BBQ. To cheer on the Hoosiers. 

With time, though, a sense of normalcy and routine starts to creep back in. Auto-pilot. Cruise control. The only difference is, the hole is still there. 

Moving & An Updated Accepted.com Interview

Thursday, April 7, 2016

It's already April! Can you believe it? Three months until I'm finished with my third year. *does celebratory dance* This time next year, I will be starting my LAST clerkship rotation and preparing for graduation. 

But for now, I'm gearing up for the impossibly exciting and terrifying process of applying to residency and taking another round of board exams. (Actually, I already took one of them but that's for another post...). So what better time than now to MOVE. 

Now to be fair, we didn't move far. Just down the street to a house, instead of an apartment. We are all apartment-ed out at this point. We originally planned to stay in our place one more year but we found a great deal on a rental house and took the leap.

I couldn't be happier. We have space. A garage (no frosty windows!). No noisy neighbors. Plenty of storage. Extra rooms. Our new place isn't quite as "polished" as the apartment but it's already starting to feel like home. I can't wait to share some decorating/DIYing in the future.

Another update - I recently did a follow up interview about medical school with Accepted.com. Go check it out for a few updates on school and life!  Hoping to be a little more active on the blog in coming weeks but don't forget to follow me on my other social media accounts for more current updates.

Questions? Leave them below! I'd love to do a Q&A blog and/or vlog in the near future!  

Surviving My Surgery Rotation

Friday, March 11, 2016

I'm alive!!! It's hard to believe that I am nearly done with my third year of medical school and yet I've barely written about any of it. Whoops. 

Well for starters, I just finished up my month on General Surgery. Which actually turned out to be more Bariatric Surgery, less general. Confession time: I have been DREADING this month since day one. For one, February is a pretty miserable month weather-wise. And for two, Surgery is about as far down on my list as it can possibly be...

...I actually ended up really enjoying this month more than I expected. Not in a "drop-everything-and-become-a-surgeon" way but I did thoroughly appreciate and enjoy learning more about the specialty.

What were your favorite aspects of the rotation?
First of all, I worked with a Bariatric surgeon and his PA who were absolutely fantastic and super nice people! Even though the days were sometimes pretty busy and long, having good people around to laugh with and learn from makes it worth it.

I love the patient population in Bariatrics. Many of our patients have struggled with their weight and health for years and years. They go through a long journey to get to the surgery day - counseling, classes, medical weight loss, etc. I enjoyed hearing their stories and seeing how well people did after surgery. Their lives are forever changed!

Many times, if a Bariatric patient requires surgery down the road for things like hernia repairs, gallbladder issues, etc. we would do those surgeries also so there is a healthy amount of continuity as well as an opportunity to create long-term connections.

What were your least favorite parts of the rotation?

Because the surgeon I was with did mostly Bariatrics, I missed out on seeing more "General" type surgery (including the pre/post-op management) which could negatively affect me for boards. Hopefully I will be able to make up the gap with Internal Medicine and some studying. 

Most surgeries are done laparoscopically now so there wasn't a lot for me to do aside from hold the scope camera and close the incisions at the end. (I did come to enjoy suturing!) It can be really nerve racking because you don't want to move the camera or make things harder for the surgeon. I did get to assist with procedures and even got to place a couple PEG tubes.

Since I enjoyed the patients so much, I enjoyed things more than I expected to. Unlike many med students though, I don't find the actual surgeries all that interesting. Anatomy was never too thrilling for me and working with my hands isn't a high priority either. Generally, I felt more anxiety being in the OR than excitement or ease. Especially if things started to go wrong...

While the hours were much better than typical General Surgery, it's still a pretty unpredictable lifestyle. Also, bariatric patients require a lot of follow up and are susceptible to complications so I felt like the PA and doc were constantly getting pages/phone calls.

What advice would you give for how to do well/survive the rotation?
  • Carry healthy snacks in your white coat pocket (protein bars, nuts, etc.) because you never know when you'll get a chance to eat! In general, we were pretty good about getting lunch but there were a few times that lunch just didn't happen.
  • Be kind to everyone! Get to know your scrub nurses. Offer to get your own gloves and gowns. If you don't know what to do, where to stand, how to do something, just ask! 
  • Know your anatomy! Things look a lot different in a live human than the cadaver you worked on in anatomy lab. I was so thankful I went over some basic anatomy before our first surgery...it shows that you are prepared and interested in learning.  
  • Don't get down if you don't know the answer to a question. Most doctors are asking you questions to help you learn or get you thinking, not because they want to embarrass you. Take it as a learning opportunity. If you miss something, just say "I'm sorry, I don't know but I will find out." Then go find out either between surgeries or when you get home. 
  • Read on your patients and surgeries for the next day. You don't necessarily need to know how to perform the surgery (you'll be retracting or holding the scope) but you should be familiar with the general steps, anatomy, indications, possible complications, etc.  
  • Find ways to be helpful. Sometimes as a medical student, it can feel like you are being less than helpful or in the way. (I think it just comes with that short white coat). Print the patient list for the team before rounds. Be on the lookout for important lab results or imaging studies on your patients. Offer to go round on a patient the doctor was concerned about. 
Did this rotation change what you see yourself specializing in?

If I were single and didn't have geographical restrictions in mind, I MIGHT consider exploring Surgery further. But at the end of the day, I know that my personality and my goals for the future do not mesh well with the surgery lifestyle. That said, there are plenty of hard working, dedicated people who make families and anything else work - to you, I bow down!

This month I gained tremendous respect for the skill set required to be a good surgeon - it's something I'm sure I could cultivate if I truly wanted to but my calling and my heart is somewhere else in medicine. I do feel a little sad that I will probably never get a chance to do surgery again. :(

What resources did you use for studying?

I used First Aid for the Surgery Clerkship & COMBANK question bank. And Dr. Wikipedia + UpToDate. I haven't gotten my COMAT exam grade back yet but I felt pretty good about the exam. 


So that's Surgery in a nutshell. Great month but glad to be moving on!

What questions do you have about Surgery? 

Worst Blogger Ever!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hello! My name is Heather and I am the worst blogger ever. :( The funny thing about not blogging...one week become two weeks. Two weeks becomes two months...and before you know it, it's a new year and you're way behind! Whoops!!!



  • I'm starting the New Year off with my elective in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry! I'm doing a lot of Outpatient office work with a little Inpatient exposure. So far, I'm loving it! Psych is so interesting to me and we all know I love kiddos...I may be narrowing down a specialty :) While I loved Pediatrics, Psych just feels right; like I'm in the right place. 
  • So far I have completed 2 months of Emergency Med, Internal Med, OB-Gyn, & Pediatrics, Psych this year. I still have Ortho, Surgery, Radiology, Internal Med again, and Family Medicine this year!  Hoping to have some updates on the completed rotations in the future.
  • Even though it seems like I just look COMLEX Level 1, I'm not scheduled to take COMLEX Level 2 PE & CE on March and May, respectively. Ugh. Time to start studying hardcore again.


  • Since starting rotations in July, my fitness routine has waxed and waned. Some months were better than others and in September I made the decision to take break from Crossfit for a few months. Looking back, I think I was really struggling during the fall. I wasn't looking forward to my workouts. Frankly, I didn't want to do much of anything. No running, no yoga, occasional lifting workouts or elliptical work. Just totally out of my groove. Sleep was my friend and my appetite was out of control. Truthfully, I think I was going through a little depressive episode. 
  • With that said, I have a little ground to make up. I gained about 10lbs since the summer. I don't feel a huge change in the way my clothes fit but I do feel a little heavier. I have since started back at Crossfit (I missed it too much!) and am starting half marathon training. Feeling much better despite the cold, dark weather. Onward and upward!

  • Since my last post, all the life things are still going well. Nick and I celebrated another set of married holidays. Still living in our same apartment and anxiously awaiting the time when we will know where we will be living for residency so we can finally look at houses! 
  • We are headed to Nashville in March for a long weekend, Bloomington in April, and possibly Atlanta (again) in May for a conference. 
  • 2016 is going to be a bridge year for us - no moving, no new schools or jobs, no big changes - just cruising along.  

Back with more updates soon! Any questions I can answer since my latest absence? :)