Becoming a Physician

Scholarship recipients share their experiences as UF medical students
27
Aug


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Fourth year is here!

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My classmate, Brittney Newby; myself; and my sister, Ashley Simmons at the Beyonce and Jay-Z concert during the On the Run tour.

My classmate, Brittney Newby; me; and my sister, Ashley Simmons, at the Beyonce and Jay-Z On the Run concert.

It is hard to believe I am eight months away from graduating medical school; it seems like only yesterday I was at orientation.

To begin my fourth year I traveled to  NYC for some shopping and good food and saw the Broadway play “Wicked.” I had an amazing time. Then I went home to visit my family, and while there, I attended the “On the Run” tour concert in Miami with my sister and classmate. After that I returned to Gainesville for the rest of my study month to prepare for the step 2CK and step 2CS examinations before I started clinical rotations.

Currently, my classmates and I are in the midst of putting together our residency applications, which include personal statements, requesting recommendation letters and writing all about the various activities we have done over the last few years.

I have decided on internal medicine (IM) as my specialty choice because of the complex problem solving and patient relationships you can develop on the wards or in an outpatient setting. Another aspect of IM that I find appealing is the large number of career opportunities available after residency such as hospitalist, primary care or procedural specialties like cardiology.

I am currently in the last week of my sub-internship rotation in internal medicine at the VA hospital. During these few weeks I have had the opportunity to act as an intern (the role of a first-year resident) and experience a few lab simulations to get some experience with code situations. It was a tough adjustment at first since I had not been on medicine wards in more than a year, but my attending and residents were very supportive and helped me get up to speed rather quickly.

And I’ve been running full steam ahead ever since! Last weekend I had the opportunity to work a few night shifts with night interns, which I thought was good insight into what I can expect next year as a resident during the few months I work at night.

Next month I start my combined Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Unit rotation along with submitting my ERAS application for residency. It should be a busy yet exciting month!

The Green Team selfie! First row: PGY1 Danielle McLaughlin Cobb; PGY1 Sarah Truelson; and PGY1 Sebastian Puig. Second row: MS3 Justin Dersch; me; PGY2 Carlos Leon. Third row: MS3 Cheri Mostisser and PAS2 Chris Pratt. Back row: PGY1 Joe Legacy and Dr. Hollander.

The Green Medicine Team selfie! First row: PGY1 Danielle McLaughlin Cobb; PGY1 Sarah Truelson; and PGY1 Sebastian Puig. Second row: MS3 Justin Dersch; me; PGY2 Carlos Leon. Third row: MS3 Cheri Mostisser and PAS2 Chris Pratt. Back row: PGY1 Joe Legacy and Dr. Hollander.

 
27
Aug


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On being a student and a teacher

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A few weeks ago, I finished taking the second series of my board exams, called the Step 2 exams. I spent the better part of a month studying for them, and every day I learned something new and learned again some old things I had forgotten.

While studying in the library one day, I ran into one of the senior residents I had worked with during my surgery rotation. It turns out he was there to study for exams of his own, and to work on a lecture he was going to present soon. “The studying never ends,” he told me, and said that the life we chose is one of constant learning and re-learning. “You can’t get away from it.”

But that is by no means a bad thing. It keeps your mind sharp, and I like the idea of seeing things again and again, and the safety that comes with repetition. There is nothing like rediscovering a topic you thought you had known about before and finding a new twist or facet to it. It’s refreshing, like waking up somewhere cozy and familiar after taking a long nap.

What I’m discovering more and more as I progress through my fourth year are new responsibilities. I am currently taking my Maternal-Fetal Medicine elective and often work alongside the third-year medical students and second-year physician assistant students. Looking back on my own experiences in my third year, I remembered how helpful and kind the fourth-year medical students were to me, and now that I was in their shoes, I wanted to make sure I continued that tradition.

At first I was a little nervous about answering their questions, as I did not want to accidentally tell them the wrong things. But eventually that nervousness went away, and I found that I did have a lot of useful things to teach them. I answered as many of their questions as I could and taught them basic things like: how to interpret fetal heart tracings, how to tie surgical knots and the different screening tests we use. There were even things they asked about that I did not even realize I remembered, like the different maneuvers you could perform during delivery and specific drugs you should and shouldn’t use during pregnancy.

And, of course, they taught me many new things as well. It’s interesting, being both a student and now a teacher of sorts. I find myself studying now not just for myself, but to make sure I can share my knowledge with others if they ask for it.

The only other major event in fourth year so far has been applying to residency programs and preparing for interviews. It is stressful and anxiety-provoking, and I will be happier when it is over. However, I have had a lot of help and guidance from the faculty members here, and they have made me feel much more relieved about the whole process.

It’s funny how there will always be something that stresses you out in life; I felt the same way about my Step 2 exams a month ago, and now being on the other side of them, it seems odd that I worried so much. Also, the residents here are always happy to give interview advice and tips on how to prepare and what to expect. And by this time next year, I’ll be in their shoes, giving advice to fourth-year students myself.

It is an honor indeed to be part of this tradition. As I move forward with my education and career, I hope I will always have something new to learn, and something new to teach.

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15
Jul


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An end and a beginning

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Third-year medical student Girard Cua interacts with a therapy horse during his geriatrics rotation.

Third-year medical student Girard Cua interacts with a therapy horse during his geriatrics rotation.

The transition from our third year to fourth year was very swift. One week I was finishing my Internal Medicine rotation — the last rotation of third year — and the very next Monday I was starting Geriatrics, the first rotation of fourth year. I didn’t feel any different, though I did feel somewhat smarter than I was last year. I suppose knowing that is good enough, though I still would have liked something more visible to mark the passage of time —something like a pin or a T-shirt that reads, “I survived my third year of medical school” would have been nice. If that were on a T-shirt, I would wear it for the rest of the summer.

In the closing months of third year, I had my Pediatrics rotation. As is the custom during Pediatrics, I started the rotation on a Monday and was sick by that Thursday. But other than that, I very much enjoyed working with the patients as well as their parents. On the inpatient service, I got to see a lot of conditions that are usually only seen in children, and the medicine would have been interesting if it were not for the fact that it involved kids being sick. If it were up to me, children would never get sick and would be outdoors playing all day, not inside a hospital feeling miserable. That is mostly why I can’t see myself doing Pediatrics.

It was especially distressing working in the Pediatric Emergency Room. Kids are getting into so many accidents these days; during my week there I did a lot of suturing of lacerations on hands and feet, and saw a lot of things being removed from places they shouldn’t have been in the first place, like a twig that got stuck in a kid’s nose. I can’t remember ever getting into that much trouble when I was little; I’ve never broken a bone or anything, and I still don’t intend to. But it was great being able to work with the pediatricians, as they are one of the best when it comes to bedside manner and patient care, and are some of the most sincere people I have ever met.

My rotation in Geriatrics was a lot of fun. I spent two weeks at a rehabilitation hospital and learned so much about rehabilitation medicine, especially how the physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and nutritionists work together with the physician and nursing staff to give recovering patients the best care possible. It was very rewarding to be able to work with the patients there, as they had so much energy and were so positive and optimistic. It was great being able to watch them in therapy and see them improve day by day.

What I really liked was how the hospital focused on the emotional and social well-being of the patients in addition to just the medical and physical aspects of the rehabilitation. I was very happy to learn that they used animal therapy for the residents. While working in the main hospital, I had seen volunteers bring in therapy dogs, who brought so much joy and comfort to the patients with just their presence and companionship; that is something that no human words can ever match. At the rehabilitation hospital, they brought in miniature horses for the patients, which were amazing creatures and really showed how much the hospital cared about the emotional well-being of their patients. The patients petted the horses, took pictures and even walked around the courtyard with them. I felt very lucky to meet one up close. It made me forget about all of the important and anxiety-provoking decisions that needed to be made very soon.

Right around this time of year is the time for our class to start looking for residency programs to apply to. All of us have decided what fields we want to pursue and are now making more serious strides to accomplish our goal of matching into those specialties.

As for myself, I have decided to go into Obstetrics and Gynecology. Of all of my rotations in third year, I enjoyed Ob/Gyn the most and can honestly see myself practicing it in the future. As I mentioned before, I think that Obstetrics is a very exciting field, especially Maternal Fetal Medicine, and there is so much good medicine and biology involved in taking care of patients as they progress though their pregnancy. It is also one of the most human and humbling fields that I have seen so far because of its social and emotional aspects and the fact that pregnancy is such a life-changing thing that affects people in so many unexpected ways.

And though I can’t imagine having children of my own, I still get irrationally happy every time I see a baby being delivered and the expression on the parents’ faces as their baby is presented to them. There is something about it that I do not think will ever get old.

But there is still a lot of time left between now and the future, and still a lot of work to be done.

 
1
May


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Outpatient medicine: Prevention starts here

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Medical students from the UF College of Medicine and the Dominican Republic posing for a group photo inside one of the local hospitals.

Medical students from the UF College of Medicine and the Dominican Republic posing for a group photo inside one of the local hospitals.

For the past few months, I have been in the community working in outpatient clinics for internal medicine and family medicine. During my first three weeks, I worked with internists and geriatricians to better understand the needs of adult and elderly patient populations in Gainesville.

For my family medicine rotation I was able to reunite with some of the physicians I worked with during my first-year preceptorship at the new UF Health Family Medicine – Main facility in Gainesville. During this time, I noticed the objectives were similar yet different for outpatient visits compared to hospital admissions.

In the outpatient setting, doctors were always emphasizing preventative health care and health maintenance. During each of my patient presentations, I would report on any pertinent tests, lab work, etc. a patient should have done to examine for a preventable or highly treatable disease.

Another difference was the familiarity and level of comfort and trust the patients seemed to have with their primary care physician. This is not to say that patients were always happy with their doctor’s revelation about their health, but the relationship they had formed over the years was very apparent.

Lastly, I liked the mixture of acute and chronic medical issues presented each day because I heard a lot of rumors that primary care was very mundane. I would say my outpatient experience was quite varied, as I saw patients as young as 2 monthsold to patients in their early 90s who presented with all kinds of acute and chronic complaints.

Also during this time, I returned to the Dominican Republic with several classmates and UF physicians as part of the DR SALUD mission trip. We traveled to many of the same villages and towns as last year, but it was just as rewarding to help and provide care to people who truly needed it.

This year’s trip leaders implemented a public health room where we talked to patients about proper dental care, providing fluoride varnish and toothpaste/brushes, as well as smoking cessation and safe sexual practices. But what I enjoyed most about this particular station was my ability to actually counsel patients in their native tongue on these issues and on adequate portions of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits.

Over the course of the week I rotated several times in the pediatric and adult medicine rooms, and by the week’s end, a few patients told me my Spanish was so good they thought I was a native Dominican #WarmedMyHeart.

Overall, I had a great time stepping outside of the hospital and seeing the work of those physicians who actively work to prevent hospital admissions and appropriately manage and counsel people with chronic diseases in addition to acute illness.

Curious about Lauren’s first medical mission trip experience? Learn more about her 2013 trip to the Dominican Republic here

 
17
Mar


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Go med, go red: Grad Cup domination

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Lauren Simmons

First place in softball, flag football, soccer and basketball!

First place in softball, flag football, soccer and basketball!

Each spring an inter-professional school competition is held between the medical, dental, law and pharmacy colleges called Grad Cup. There are five sporting events that include softball, basketball, soccer, volleyball and flag football along with a blood drive and T-shirt competition.

For the third straight year the medical school has won the overall competition! Also this year the women’s sports teams won first place in four out of five events, including the two I played: basketball and flag football.

What makes the event so much fun is that everyone comes out to support even if they don’t have an athletic bone in their body.  Overall, I had a great time and I hope we can keep the success going in years to come!

First day: A large portion of medical students came to support the softball games in which the women were victorious!

The first day, a large portion of medical students came out to support the softball games, in which the women were victorious!

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28
Jan


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New year, new rotation

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Girard Cua

It is a new year, and I have spent the first three weeks of it with the trauma surgery team at UF Health Shands Hospital here in Gainesville. I am currently on my surgery rotation, which has been quite a departure from my previous rotations so far. I am enjoying it very much, however.

Each morning the team started the day at around 5 a.m., when we would round on all the patients in our service. Not only did we have an early start each day, but we also had a large census of patients to go through — each of them unique and complex. The team I worked with was more than equipped to handle them, however, and took care of them well. I was surprised at how efficiently each member of the team operated, as well as the depth of their medical knowledge and skill. No possible side effect or circumstance regarding a patient was overlooked, and every possible complication was anticipated and ready to be addressed. Under the leadership of the attending surgeons, the team was run like a machine.

Indeed, I have never met a group of individuals who appeared to not need much sleep to function. The residents were still at the hospital every day when I left at night and were there already when I arrived early in the morning. It was the kind of dedication you see only when someone really loves what they do. I was in the operating room with the chief resident one day, talking to him about the long hours that he worked. He picked up a hemostat and said, “Do you hear this?” and then he clamped the instrument shut, allowing it make its characteristic “click-click-click” noise as the locks on the handle engaged. “That sound is the reason I get out of bed in the morning.” I was struck by how fully he was committed to his specialty; it seemed as audible and certain as the clicks that came from his instrument. I hoped I would one day find that same certainty in myself.

I have liked being in the operating room ever since I first stepped in one last year in my obstetrics and gynecology rotation. It is an interesting place, and one of the most machine-like I can think of. Everything is done in a certain way, in certain steps, and everyone has their role. My role was to help wherever I could — setting up the room beforehand, cleaning up and helping transport the patients to their rooms afterward. During the surgery, I would stand next to the resident and retract tissue, cut sutures and try to learn and observe as much as I could. I worked with several different surgeons, each with their own style and preferences, and all of them highly skilled. What struck me most about them was how confident each surgeon was. They were all sure of themselves; there was purpose in every knife stroke, every needle stitch and every maneuver. I wondered if it came naturally to them or if it was acquired. If they did find it, where did it come from? I am still trying to figure that out.

When I am not in the operating room assisting with surgeries, I am with the second-year resident, who runs around the hospital, answering consults from other services and making sure our patients are doing well. He is also in charge of being ready to receive incoming trauma patients in the Emergency Department. He is always busy and I cannot ever recall seeing him eat or stop to use the restroom. In addition to the new patients he sees every day, he knows everything there is to know about our current list of patients, making me think of him as a kind of fast-moving computer. This is true of all the members of the trauma team, and I often found myself trying to keep up with all the quick thinking that goes on during rounds. Just when I thought I had a good idea of what was going on with one patient, he or she would be discharged and a new patient would take his or her place. Being able to keep large amounts of patient data in your head is something that comes only after a lot of practice, I suppose.

So far, my time in the surgery rotation has been challenging, both mentally and physically. I learn so many new things each day that I am surprised I can remember them all. While I do appreciate all the time I have spent in the operating room, my favorite part of surgery so far is seeing the patients recover. It is great to see a patient who was once so ill getting better day by day, and each patient I have met has had an interesting and memorable story to tell. I am very much looking forward to the next several weeks.

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15
Jan


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Touching new life

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Lauren Simmons

Tushar Gupta, MS3, dressed up as Aladdin for Halloween and the kids loved it!

Tushar Gupta, MS3, dressed up as Aladdin for Halloween and the kids loved it!

When I started my pediatrics rotation I was extremely nervous because it seemed as though I was the only person in my class who had never held a baby. Most of the children I’ve interacted with have at least been walking age. Twenty minutes into my pediatrics orientation I found out my first week would be in the newborn nursery. My heart stopped. Emotions engulfed me as I tried to comprehend what I had been told.  The clerkship director could sense my nerves and quickly offered a few pointers in baby holding. When I got to the nursery that afternoon, the attending and several residents greeted me warmly, and after seeing the act performed by pros, it was my turn. As I carefully scooped the baby into my arms, I was overwhelmed with joy as the infant stared at me and made the cutest little faces. For the rest of the week, I held as many babies as I could get my hands on in addition to changing a few diapers. Overall, it was truly a life-changing experience.

The following week, I got my first taste of shift work in the pediatric emergency department. Each of my eight-hour shifts flew by like a speeding bullet, as the waiting room never seemed to empty completely. I got a chance to help diagnose common issues like otitis media and asthma exacerbation, but I also saw uncommon things like a scleral abrasion, complete tooth fracture and ingrown toenails. I enjoyed the variety and pace of the ED for the week, but I’m not sure if that’s a pace I can handle for a lifetime.

One of the patients I helped take care of during my time at Wolfson's Children's hospital in Jacksonville made this card for myself and the team before she left.

One of the patients I helped take care of at Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville made this card for the team.

I got my first taste of outpatient medicine during this rotation as I spent two weeks working at one of UF’s pediatric clinics in Tower Square. Overall, it was a pretty awesome experience because I got to work with several clinicians and see a variety of patients. I enjoyed doing the well-child checks because kids say the most amazing things and tell some great stories. One day, I was examining a 5-year-old who asked me what the “UF” on my badge clip meant and when I responded by saying it stood for the University of Florida, his all-too-cute response was “You live in Florida?!” Each day during those two weeks, at least one child would say or do something quite entertaining.

Overall, I really enjoyed my pediatrics rotation as I experienced several firsts and worked with some amazing people. The resilience of kids to fight to live a normal life despite major illness was truly a sight to behold.

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7
Nov


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Sutures and knots: The basics of surgery

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Kristen Easey, PA-2 and I before we went into the OR.

Kristen Easey, PA-2 and I before we went into the OR.

Lauren Simmons

Before starting my surgery rotation I was very nervous because of the comments I heard from upperclassmen about their experiences. The most frequent complaints were rarely having time to eat a decent meal and that sleep came at a premium. Fortunately for me, my first specialty was the otolaryngology service, which has a good balance of surgery and clinic, so sleeping and eating were not an issue. In the operating room (OR) I quickly learned how invasive some ENT surgeries can be and how difficult it is to remove tumors where the anatomy is quite complex. Also during this time we had a bowel anastomosis and laparoscopic skills workshop.  Within a few minutes, I realized giving up video games after high school did not help my dexterity with the laparoscopic instruments, but I improved gradually over the course of the workshop.

After ENT, I ventured back to the VA medical center for my vascular rotation, which was a great learning experience for me. On day 1 my ability to assess and treat wounds skyrocketed because of the number of patients and variety of the injuries, and each morning during rounds, I changed several dressings. My comfort level with wound care is light years above where it was to begin the rotation. But the most exciting part of vascular surgery happened in the OR, where I saw AV fistula creation for future dialysis treatments, carotid and femoral endarterectomies and extensive bypass procedures for people with severe occlusive disease in their legs. The highlight surgery I was fortunate enough to take part in was an open repair of an 11cm abdominal aortic aneurysm. I was amazed that despite its massive size, the other abdominal contents seemed unaffected.

Top Row from left: Wallace Nozile, Edward Haupt, Stephen Suah, Christopher Monsour, Matthew Sorensen. Second row from top from left: Steve Noutong, Travus White, Victor Huang, Morgan McGuire. Middle row from left: Amy Sheer, Tushar Gupta, Brent King. Bottom row from left: James Stubbs, Del Benzenhafer, Claudia Phen, Lisandra Perez, me, Elaine Bromberek, Xiaoming Jia.

Top Row from left: Wallace Nozile, Edward Haupt, Stephen Suah, Christopher Monsour, Matthew Sorensen. Second row from top from left: Steve Noutong, Travus White, Victor Huang, Morgan McGuire. Middle row from left: Amy Sheer, Tushar Gupta, Brent King. Bottom row from left: James Stubbs, Del Benzenhafer, Claudia Phen, Lisandra Perez, me, Elaine Bromberek, Xiaoming Jia.

My final rotation on the general surgery service also took place at the VA, and I was able to take part in a variety of surgeries. The most common operations were laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair and gallbladder removal, but I also saw breast and colon cancer resections along with a few hemorrhoidectomies. I got to help close some incisions on my previous rotations, but I did the bulk of my suturing on this rotation. After my second laparoscopic gallbladder removal, the chief resident I was working with complimented me on my suturing skills and it made my day.

The hardest part of the surgery rotation was the four nights of trauma call. I was awake for 24-30 hours on each one, which was challenging because as I mentioned before, sleep is something I value. Fortunately for me, there was something to do most of the time, so the hours flew by; I think the worst part was trying to recover the next day. Overall I liked my surgery rotation, I had great attendings, and the residents I worked with were very supportive and great teachers both in the OR and in clinic.

 

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12
Oct


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Nearer than your next heartbeat

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Girard Cua

I have just finished my rotation in obstetrics here in Gainesville, and it has been my favorite rotation so far. I have done many new and challenging things, like helping deliver babies and assisting with C-sections, while also building on skills I was already familiar with, like seeing follow-up patients in the continuity clinics. Even though I had to wake up at 4 a.m. every day, I did not mind it at all, which I took as a sign that I very much liked what I was doing. But what made the rotation really stand out for me was how great the faculty and residents were. They are all very passionate about their work and are extremely intelligent people. They are also very dedicated teachers and mentors, and they really helped me make the most of my learning experience during my time there.

One of my favorite experiences came during my first 24-hour shift in the labor and delivery ward. It was very late into the shift, either hour 19 or hour 20, and I had just finished assisting with my second C-section. At that point, I was very tired and looking forward to just sitting down and resting for a bit. We were still in the operating room when one of the phones rang. A nurse answered the phone and then called out that I had to go and meet one of the other residents immediately. So I quickly left the operating room, took off my protective boots, hat and facemask, and I met the resident at the doctor’s station.

The resident was sitting on a chair, pulling on a pair of protective boots. It was Dr. Deming, one of the second-year residents. She said, “You’re going to help me deliver this next baby. Go and put some boots on.” So I left the doctor’s station and its comfortable chairs behind, went to the hallway cart that had all of the necessary materials, and dressed up again.

As I pulled on my boots and tied my mask, I started to get very nervous. Up until that point, I had only ever seen one vaginal birth before, which one of the first-year residents performed by herself. And here I was about to help deliver a baby and who knows what I was going to have to do and what was going to happen. But still, I wanted to see it through. So I met Dr. Deming in the patient’s room and we both gowned and gloved for the delivery.

“Take a seat on this stool here,” she said, stepping aside and motioning toward the steel seat right in front of the patient. I sat down and introduced myself, and we waited for the next contraction so she could start pushing. I was holding my gloved hands up in front of me, not wanting to accidentally touch anything and become non-sterile. But apparently that looked strange, because Dr. Deming pushed my hands down onto my lap; everyone, including the patient, had a good laugh at that.

When it came time to push, Dr. Deming, along with the nurses, coached the patient though it and then guided my hands with the necessary maneuvers. First the baby’s head came out, then one shoulder, then the other, and very quickly the rest of the baby followed.

As soon as the baby popped out, I immediately thought of a piece of advice that one of the fellows told me during orientation. We were practicing maneuvers with a plastic dummy and she said, “When they come out, make sure you grab a thigh because those babies are slippery!” So with one hand I supported the baby’s back and head, and with the other I grabbed a thigh. She was right; the baby was squirming and moving its tiny arms and legs around like it was trying to swim away. But I held the baby securely while Dr. Deming clamped the cord and the nurses wiped the baby clean. I must have been stunned at seeing how quick and efficient everything was, because I didn’t notice that Dr. Deming had finished and the nurses had already laid out a fresh towel on the mother; they were now just waiting for me to act.

“Girard; put the baby on the towel!” everyone said at once.

“Oh, sorry,” I said, and I placed the baby on the towel, where the nurses covered it up and brought it closer to the mother. After that, we delivered the placenta. Then we packed everything away, congratulated the mother, and left her to get some rest with her baby.

We walked back to the doctor’s station and I sat down. I thought it would feel good to finally have a rest, but I was not tired anymore. I looked at the clock and was surprised at how much time had passed. I was more surprised at how quickly everything had happened. One moment I was doing one thing, and the very next I had to do something else. The nearness and unpredictability of it all was refreshing. I am the kind of person who likes to work on a schedule, and I like knowing what’s going to happen next. Interruptions and uncertainties make me nervous, but that day I learned that things can happen unexpectedly but everything can still work out. And even with something as unpredictable as spontaneous labor, it was clear by how efficient and precise everyone acted and that everything was under complete control.

This rotation has been full of unexpected things, and it was much more rewarding and fulfilling than I could have imagined. It has made me think not just about the obstetrics topics we learned about during the rotation but also about whether I might be a good obstetrician one day. Some days I see myself working in obstetrics, and some days I don’t. Even so, I have done a lot of work these past three weeks and helped deliver a lot of babies. Sometimes I find myself thinking about what kind of people those babies will grow up to be. But their future, like mine and everyone else’s, is unpredictable. I have learned not to see that as a worrying thing, though.

 

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3
Sep


closed

Internal medicine: The foundation of it all

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Lauren Simmons

It’s hard to believe it has already been eight weeks since I first donned my white coat as a third-year medical student seeking to positively impact the lives of others. I have just finished my first clinical rotation of the year, in internal medicine spending the first half at the Gainesville VA and the latter part at the UF Health Jacksonville campus.

Matt Brown, MS3, posing with a pizookie (cookie-sheet-size chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream), one of the many fun classmate-bonding events that took place in Jacksonville.

Matt Brown, MS3, posing with a pizookie (a cookie-sheet-size chocolate chip cookie topped with ice cream). This was one of the many fun classmate-bonding events that took place in Jacksonville.

The patients at the VA were absolutely amazing. I enjoyed talking with them and hearing their stories about the years they served in the military.  Even more important was the fact that I had great residents and a wonderful attending from the start who helped me get settled in. Within no time I was calling for consults, helping place orders and writing notes.

One of the hardest parts of the rotation was learning how to do an oral presentation correctly on rounds, especially since each attending has a different spin on how they like it to be done. Overall it was a fast and exciting four weeks; two procedures I was able to see were an esophagogastroduodenoscopy and lower back steroid injection.

When I got to the UF Health Jacksonville campus, it was as if I stepped into a whole new world because the patient population was much more diverse. I welcomed the change, especially the ability to take care of female patients, of which I had one during my entire VA experience. In addition to the change in patient population, my living situation took me back to my undergrad days because I was living in a dorm with my classmates.

Overall dorm life was fun because I was able to reunite with people on different rotations. As the days went by I felt much more comfortable with my oral presentation skills and my ability to come up with a broad differential and a plausible plan for workup and treatment. I was able to assist with a paracentesis and central line placement during my second-to-last week.

We also had the chance to participate in a simulation skills lab, and I was able to successfully place a central line on a manikin on my first try! I really enjoyed the way medicine challenged me mentally and it is definitely a rotation I will look back on favorably.

My medical student and PA student family on Internal Medicine in Jacksonville. Back row (from left): Sarah Oaks, Travus White, Xiaoming Jia; Front row (from left): Elaine Bromberek, me, Rory Nicolaides, Jena Sleiman, Heather Shimoji and Tushar Gupta.

My medical student and PA student family on the internal medicine rotation in Jacksonville. Back row (from left): Sarah Oaks, Travus White, Xiaoming Jia. Front row (from left): Elaine Bromberek, me, Rory Nicolaides, Jena Sleiman, Heather Shimoji and Tushar Gupta.