Becoming a Physician

Scholarship recipients share their experiences as UF medical students


Interview season

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Over the past few weeks, I have done more traveling than I can ever remember doing in one period of time. I’ve been to places all over the Southeast, traveling to interesting states like Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi and Virginia. Sadly, this has not been for vacation, but for interview season.

At this time of year, fourth-year medical students across America are flying around the United States, looking at programs to train with for our residencies. I’ve stayed at each place for no more than a couple of days at a time and have grown accustomed to waiting in airports, running around those same airports to catch connecting flights, driving rental cars and getting lost in unfamiliar cities, and staying in a string of different but similar-looking hotel rooms. It is both a stressful and exciting time of year, and quite unlike anything I’ve experienced in medical school so far.

Working through the residency application process was fairly smooth. Once I submitted my online application and applied to the programs I liked, the most difficult part was the waiting. There was a lot of waiting to see if all of the paperwork, test score, and letters of recommendation were sent, and then more waiting to hear from programs to see if they wanted an interview.

For the last two weeks of September and the first few weeks of October, I was constantly checking my email for messages and frantically typing responses to programs whenever I received an invitation from them. Every time my phone buzzed with a new email, I would jump up and my heart would skip a beat. Needless to say, it was a very strange time to be working around me, as it must have looked like I was getting shocked by an invisible force at random intervals.

The residents and attendings I was working with, however, knew exactly what was going on. They took the time to reflect on their own experiences with interviews and gave me advice on how to get the most out of them. The most common thing they told me was to just be myself, as the interview process is less about determining the clinical competence or intelligence of an applicant and more about determining compatibility and personality. Program directors want to see if you fit in well with their institution and program philosophy, and if you could potentially grow with the program and get along with the other team members you would be working with.

Likewise, it is also a time for you to figure out if you can see yourself working in that program’s environment, and if you have the same priorities and goals that they do. They also told me that, above all else, you should trust your instincts and pay more attention to how a program makes you feel rather than other aspects, such as what their case numbers are or what their facilities are like. With all this in mind I felt more prepared, though no less anxious, to start my interviews.

Once the interview dates became more or less solidified, it was exciting to look at my list of programs and see all the potential places I could end up working in. I was very happy to see how my list was shaping up, and the next step was to coordinate the transportation and lodgings. I had to see if I wanted to fly or drive to a particular interview, if I had to rent a car and where the hotel nearest to the institution was.A lot of this was new to me, and it was great to learn how to manage the logistics of traveling and making sure all the necessary arrangements were in order.

So far things have been working out well, and I have actually learned a lot about the geography of the Southeast. This is a good thing, as I’ve never been very good at knowing where exactly all the states were located and what the major cities were. Every interview is a new adventure, and it has been very interesting to meet new people and see how other programs approach practicing medicine.

One of my favorite parts of each interview has been the resident dinner that is usually held the night before the interview. It is a great time to meet the residents of the program and talk to them about what it’s like to work and live in that city, as well as the kinds of things they do for fun. It’s also a great opportunity for them to meet the applicants and see who they might be working with next year.

Each dinner has been very informative and a great way to relax and alleviate anxiety before the official interviews, and I’ve found that each program has its own flavor and style. It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what it is, but I am now appreciating more and more the advice I was given to just go with your gut and remember how a program makes you feel.

So far, I’ve had a lot of positive experiences with the residents I’ve talked to, and they have all seemed very happy with their choice of residency. It reassured me that the whole interview and matching process was designed to yield the best and fairest results for both the applicants and the programs. The residents were always willing to talk about the positive and negative aspects of their program, what their daily life is like, how they get along with their co-worker, and their own career goals; all of which was very valuable information to keep in mind.

The interview days themselves have been, just as I was told, very relaxed and enjoyable. Aside from the interviews themselves, the day usually consists of meeting the staff and faculty of the program, listening to a talk about the program itself and what life is like in that city, and then going on a tour of the facilities and meeting the residents.

The interview formats themselves have varied a lot depending on the program. Some interviews last more than half an hour each, while others are around fifteen minutes. Sometimes the interviews are done one-on-one, and other times with groups of people interviewing you. They usually include the program directors, faculty members and residents.

Regardless of the format or timing, they have always been very laid back and even enjoyable. Many interviewers are genuinely interested in you and your hobbies and talents, and ask questions to get to know you better as a person. I have talked to interviewers about so many different topics, many of them not related to medicine at all. I have talked about traveling, languages, my favorite foods, books, and movies, and my hobbies, like writing for this blog. I’ve also talked about my experiences as a medical student at UF, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that many of my interviewers were familiar with some of our faculty members and the work they did. It made me very proud to come from an institution with such an outstanding reputation.

Another great thing about going on interviews is that you get to meet other medical students from all over the United States who are going through the same process as you. At first, I thought it would be an intimidating thing, as all of us are essentially competing for the same limited spots in training programs, but it has been the exact opposite. I have enjoyed talking and interacting with the other applicants very much, and they have all been very friendly and interesting people, each with unique backgrounds. I have even bumped into some of the same people in later interviews, and it is always great to catch up and see where they are in their interview trail.

Seeing my fellow medical students and getting to know them reminded me of how large the scale of medicine is, and that everyone is on their own journey of trying to find where they would be happiest. As of now, I am only about halfway finished with my list of programs to visit, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season develops.

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More rotations and the upcoming interview season

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We survived the night shift! Me and Amy Sheer, MS4

We survived the night shift! Me and Amy Sheer, MS4

Since my last post, I have been busy cultivating my skills in the area of cardiology on the inpatient consultation service at UF Health Shands Hospital. During the few weeks I spent on this team, I read numerous EKGs daily and markedly improved my EKG interpretation skills along with learning some tips for working up cardiac complaints. Having proficiency in both of these areas will help me tremendously as an intern next year.

Following my time on the cardiology service, I had the pleasure of working at Brooks Rehabilitation in Jacksonville. While there, I was able to work with an awesome team of physicians and physical and occupational therapists to help improve mobility and function of several patients who have experienced traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injuries. Day after day I worked with patients before and after they went through hours of therapy with the goal of getting themselves into the best shape to leave the facility as independent as possible. I enjoyed my conversations with many of the people there; to hear their stories and see them have such a positive outlook on life was very humbling.

In my last post I spoke about my decision to pursue internal medicine as my specialty of choice, and shortly after I submitted my residency application. Since that time I have been very fortunate to receive interview invitations from several residency programs. I will admit I was a bit nervous about hearing back from programs, so when I received my first interview invite, I was overcome with joy and hope. I knew I was one step closer to my goal of becoming a licensed and board certified physician.

Over the course of the next few months I will be interviewing at these places to get a better understanding of the type of learning environment and overall experience I can expect during residency. I feel blessed to have this opportunity and plan to evaluate all my options carefully, with the goal of choosing an institution that will nurture my career interests and provide me with the necessary experiences to be an excellent physician.

All the while, I have been continuing my rotations and recently started one in emergency medicine in Jacksonville. I began with the night shift — or, as my dad so aptly calls it, the “graveyard shift.” It has been a big adjustment for my circadian rhythm, but I have enjoyed the fast pace and different approach to problem solving. I am sure I will see plenty of interesting cases before this month is over, as UF Health Jacksonville is a Level 1 Trauma Center in a pretty large and diverse city. But I am up for the challenge, and I think I will learn some valuable skills that will come in handy during residency.

Next up: Three more weeks of emergency medicine and the start of interview season. Fourth year is turning out to be as fun and exciting as previously advertised.



The ingredients of life: My month with the REI team

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Over the past month I’ve been working with the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility team here at UF, and it has been an eye-opening experience. REI is a specialty within Obstetrics and Gynecology, and I spent four full weeks working with the faculty in their clinics and in the main hospital. I hadn’t had much exposure to REI before going on this rotation. I knew a little bit about in vitro fertilization and the different medications we give to women to increase their chances of pregnancy but did not know much about how it worked practically. I was eager to learn as much as I could about it and signed up to be part of the team as soon as I learned it was an available rotation for us. Starting from my first day, I was able to dive right into it.

I got to the clinic early and was told to change out of my formal clothes and into some scrubs, as the attending physician and REI staff were going to do an egg retrieval on a patient before clinic started. I changed and quickly met everyone in the procedure room. Everything was all set up and the doctor was using an ultrasound probe to look at the patient’s uterus and ovaries. I was amazed to see that each ovary looked to be the size of an orange! The medications the doctors had given the patient had made her produce many ovarian follicles, which each housed a single egg. So instead of preparing one egg each cycle as a woman normally does, the patient had prepared many; this gave the team the best chance of being able to fertilize each of the eggs and turn them into embryos. It was amazing to watch the attending use a needle to vacuum up the follicles into some test tubes, which were all handed to the embryologist for inspection and processing. All in all, we collected from more than 20 follicles and were optimistic about our chances.

It amazed me that, as we went on with morning clinic, seeing patients and dictating notes, those eggs we collected were changing and growing with each passing moment. In one of the clinic rooms I saw a large poster with diagrams of the different stages of growth, from embryo to fetus to newborn. And as I looked at it, I thought it was amazing time to be alive. We have the ability to see and know how a person grows, even from the point where it is nothing more than a collection of cells. Everyone who is alive today made that journey described on the poster, and seeing it made me remember just how connected we all are.

That feeling of amazement never went away as the rotation continued. From early on, I could tell that all the doctors and clinic staff had that same sense of appreciation. One of the attendings, Dr. Christman, is incredibly enthusiastic about the whole field of reproductive medicine, having been involved in it since its very beginnings. I was with him one day as he was talking to a couple about potentially starting in vitro fertilization for them. He talked about how his job never gets old and how he still finds it exciting, even after practicing for decades. He said, “Sometimes we help patients have a child and then they come back a few years later for us to help them again. They’ll bring in their 2-year-old and you look at the kid and say ‘Wow, it’s been almost three years now but I still remember walking by your storage tank when you were just a frozen embryo!’” I could tell that he never stopped appreciating just how incredible his job was.

One of the other attendings, Dr. Rhoton, also shares Dr. Christman’s enthusiasm. She told me that she couldn’t possibly imagine doing anything other than REI. “I go into work every day doing what I love,” she said. While working with her in clinic, I could see just how much she cares about her patients. She is very supportive and always encourages them to “think baby thoughts!” whenever it comes time to transfer embryos or do fertilizations.

I was also touched by how committed the REI staff was. They worked tirelessly to make sure the patients were prepared for undertaking the long and stressful journey that was an infertility treatment. Though we have many options to help our patients, sometimes it takes a long time and many cycles to achieve a pregnancy, and it can be emotionally taxing for everyone involved when things don’t work out. To this end, the clinic staff were some of the most compassionate and supportive people I have ever worked with. They made sure the patients were well-informed and had all their questions answered and anxieties addressed, and even stayed behind after clinic to help them with whatever else they needed.

Overall, I had a wonderful time in REI and learned a lot about how to take care of patients who need extra help getting pregnant. And our clinic did not just help patients with fertility issues; we treated patients with a variety of other endocrine needs as well. I have heard so many unique and memorable stories from the patients I talked to. I am very thankful for the experience and am that much more certain I am going into a field that I will thoroughly enjoy.



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.



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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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.



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



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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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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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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