In the Life of a Fickle Intern

March 20, 2011


Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 22:05

I’ve had several people just today ask me what happens when you don’t match. On Monday of Match week, if your email from the National Resident Matching Program states that you did not match, apart from the inevitable depression that you will probably experience, you have to get ready to scramble for a position.

A list of unfilled positions in all specialties is released to everyone who did not match. I’m not completely sure on the logistics, but I think that starting on Tuesday, you can resubmit your electronic residency application to any programs that have spots open for anything. One would hope that you can find a position in your own field, but many people end up taking whatever position they can find. You have Tuesday and Wednesday to complete this process. It’s a second chance to get a job. Many people who don’t find a position or who don’t want to change fields will settle for a preliminary year in which you work as an Internal Medicine intern or a surgical intern. While working, you use that extra year to reapply and go through the whole application process again. The preliminary year is often required by more specialized fields like Dermatology or Orthopedic Surgery or Ophthalmology. Most people can get one of these one year positions.

As I’ve mentioned before, this whole process really sucks. It’s so stressful and ultimately, if luck is not in your corner, you can end up jobless despite your four years of hardwork.

Worst yet, medical schools across the country are accepting more students but residency programs are not increasing the number of jobs available. Residency is getting more and more competitive each year in every specialty!

I’m very grateful that I have somewhere to go next year, and I’m also very grateful that I like the program. Can’t really ask for anything more.



March 17, 2011


Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 16:23

I’ve been a little slow on writing my continuation on Herbal Medicine, but this week is Match week and it has been one heck of a week with more to come! So it’s official, I am moving to Baltimore, Maryland in June to start three more years of training. We found out on Monday whether we matched or not and today was the big day when we all found out where.

Of course I started crying. I’ve had so much pent up anticipation and anxiety this last week about the whole process so when it all came to an end, I could not hold back the tears. It all hit me at once – I am done with medical school AND I have to move away AND I have a job with responsibilities. Though I knew this day was to come sooner or later, making it official with a job offer was surreal. I am super excited about this match. I have had dreams and nightmares about all five of my top choices BUT Maryland for some strange reason, and I think that made the shock factor even greater.

I had a lot of trouble making my rank list last month. I kept a subjective grading rubric for all the programs I interviewed at but when it came down to the last minute, extraneous factors like family and friends all played a much larger role than I thought they would. Maryland was always in my top three choices, but its position on the list changed a lot because ultimately, despite having friends in the DC area, I know nothing and no one in Baltimore. My top five programs were Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC, Alameda County Hospital in Oakland, CA, University of Maryland in Baltimore, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center-Harvard Affiliated Program in Boston, MA and Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN, and in all honesty, I would have been happy at the majority of the programs I interviewed with. EM people are just that amazing!

So Baltimore! I don’t know much about the city, but the program is stellar. It was tied for the highest score on my grading rubric so I guess it all worked out in the end!

Anywho, that’s that! Let the Match Week activities continue now that I’ve had a few hours of downtime to soak in all of this! I might go into fulminant liver failure, but it’ll be ok because I’ll be surrounded by all of these brand new doctors with jobs! Eeeek!

March 14, 2011

Herbal Medicine

Filed under: Personal Ramble — dailymedicine @ 14:59

I’ve always been curious about herbal medicine, also known as eastern medicine or Chinese medicine. It has a long history of thousands and thousands of years using natural roots and plants to treat ailments. Most Asian cultures still practice this form of medicine in their everyday lives. In my family, it was just a part of growing up.

I can still remember the distinct smell of different herbal concoctions cooking in our garage every now and then. The smell was pungent and strong, penetrating everything that the surrounding air touched. I always hated going out to the garage during these times because my clothes and my hair would be saturated within minutes. My mother and sisters swear by this stuff. They believe that Western Medicine (what I’m studying!) has too many side effects and it’s too toxic to the body, which I agree with them to a certain extent.

In Vietnam and in many other parts of the world, people rely on herbal medicine to treat their illnesses. Instead of going to doctors, they go to a Thay Thuoc, literally translating into the Medicine Teacher, who would take their history and feel their pulse and prescribe different combination of natural ingredients for the patients to cook into a solution to drink. It could take an hour to twelve hours to cook up these concoctions, depending on the specific instructions. In the past, this was very much a family business with fathers passing down the knowledge to their sons and whatnot, but nowadays, there are actual schools where you can learn about herbal medicine.

In the United States, with the Vietnamese population growing daily, many people have opened up “practices” in big cities across the city. My mom has used several different Thay Thuoc throughout the US in the past, but recently she heard of a Thay Thuoc in Houston who was supposed to be really good. This brings me to the point of this entry.

My mother has an array of minor chronic problems which are bothersome like arthritis and insomnia and intermittent spells of dizziness. I’ve tried to explain to her the mechanisms of these problems, but unable to communicate properly in Vietnamese, I don’t think she understands what I’m trying to say. Either that or she just doesn’t listen to me. Probably the latter, but that’s ok too. Nonetheless she wanted to visit this Thay Thuoc in Houston, so this past weekend, we took a trip to Houston.

To be continued…

March 8, 2011

Pediatric Anesthesia

Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 22:54

When I was choosing a specialty this time last year, many people told me to just go with my gut because certain personalities are drawn to certain fields. With that advice in mind, I got drafted into the fast-paced world of the ED where adrenaline runs high and multitasking is a goal. A slow day is a boring day. That tells you a little about me. I like to be active and busy.

Because my cardiologist was on vacation last week, I ended up working with the Pediatric anesthesiologist the whole week. Though everyone was amazingly friendly and approachable, last week went by so very slowly. Anesthesia is very cool but it’s very slow paced. It’s a lot of monitoring of numbers on a machine and a lot of sitting around. My interest in anesthesia dropped to zero as soon as I got that breathing tube down the kid. I always ended up wandering to the other side of the sterile drape to watch the surgeries instead. One of the pediatric surgical fellow asked me why I was sitting on the “gas passing side of the drape” when it was apparent that I was definitely more interested in the surgerical aspect of the case. I bs’d something about learning airways and whatnot though I readily admitted that I considered going into surgery for a few months. I did get to watch some really cool cases like a Nuss procedure and pyloromyotomy and an omphalacele reduction, just to name a few.

Starting my EKG rotation this week has been a nice change of pace. I just sit in front of the computer and read EKG’s the whole time, but because I have the motivation to learn this skill, I’m enjoying it a lot. Last Friday I attempted to get out of having to go into Anesthesia this week but my attending was too nice so I felt guilty asking. However, I totally played hookie today and just left when I found out my attending wasn’t there. I kind of felt bad about it for a few minutes but I got over it really fast. There isn’t much for me to do in the afternoons anyhow. This has been such a good opportunity, but I am very glad that it’s almost over. This is what I get for being a gunner!

March 1, 2011


Filed under: Daily Lowdown — dailymedicine @ 22:25

They say doctors make the worst patients. Even though I have yet to become a doctor, I would say that I’m probably not a very good patient because I never go. I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to stay healthy so why go for silly check ups. (Disclaimer: You should probably go to the doctor for your silly check ups!) As hypocritical as it may sound, I don’t enjoy going to the doctor at all. However, I do have to venture to the health clinics once in a long while to get prescriptions and whatnot. It’s one of those necessary annoyances.

In preparation for my graduation trip, a month long tour of India and Thailand with one of my best friends from medical school, I had to visit the student health clinic earlier this week. In order to expedite this appointment, I had my list of prophylactic medications that I needed ready. Prophylactic medicine just means the prevention of disease. Without being rude, I got to the point and gave her my list of medication that I needed prescriptions for. I also updated my vaccinations with a new tetanus shot and the second hepatitis A shot. My arm is still a bit sore but now I have some peace of mind that I am immunized. I’m very much pro-vaccination.

Now that I have my antimalarial medicine, my prophylactic antibiotics, my epinephrine pen, my collection of different classes of antihistamine, my anti-GI drugs and anti-nausea meds, I think I’m all drugged out for my trip. I don’t think I’ve ever brought this many types of medicine with me anywhere, but now that I know, I can’t justify leaving any of them behind. It’s ridiculous, but you can never be too prepared! 🙂

Sixteen days until Match. Twenty four days until trip. Three months until graduation.

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