Back Burner

With rounds, daily progress notes, grand rounds, afternoon clinics, day calls, night calls, morning reports, presentations, and teaching sessions, there are several things that had to be put on the back burner these past two months into residency, and blogging happened to be one of them, as you’ve probably noticed from my hiatus.

Morning after a night call

Morning after a night call

The other is working out and eating proper meals, unfortunately, and because of this, I’ve unintentionally lost about 14 pounds of body weight since I started two months ago. To some people this may seem like a good thing, but to me, gaining weight, strength, and muscle mass had been something I had to really work on (I was a really skinny kid before I started working out after college), and I at least want to maintain what I’ve gained.

Showing Lyra where her name came from

Showing Lyra where her name came from

There’s one thing I won’t ever put on the back burner though, and that is family. Although I see my family a lot less now, I make sure I spend some quality time with them whenever I do have the moment. Nearly everyday, I have piano time with my daughter Lyra on my lap. I have a routine of songs that I play for her: Bach’s Minuet in G major, Clementi’s Sonatina in C major, Burgmüeller’s Arabesque, Beethoven’s Für Elise, Mozart’s Turkish March… pieces my mom taught me to play when I was a child, which I’ll hopefully pass on to my child. Lyra loves them, and touches the keys whenever I play.

On nights that I get home early, I also make sure we eat a cooked dinner at the dinner table as a family. Irene and I both love to cook and it brings us together to prepare meals together. Eating at the dinner table together as a family is something we both grew up with, and I feel it makes families closer, as it’s a great time to socialize. I don’t like the idea of eating meals in front of the TV or at the desk. Irene and Lyra are my biggest supporters, and I am as well to them.

 

Work hasn’t been easy and life has to be adjusted accordingly. Nevertheless, I’ve been getting some really valuable training, both in medicine and in my life outside of work. There are four things I have learned to get me through my new life and career:

1. Don’t complain. Do. Residency is tough, no doubt about it. But the workload isn’t anything I didn’t expect, so I don’t feel the need to complain. More importantly, however, the work doesn’t get any easier for me or for my fellow coworkers if I complained. Because of this, I just toughen it up and do my job. Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger, and I want to be strong.

2. Take pride in what you do. It’s only been two months into residency, but I feel that I’ve never worked harder before. We strived to work hard in med school to be awarded an acceptance into residency, but what we were really awarding ourselves is more hard work, and a lifetime of hard work. It may cause us a lot of stress, keep us away from spending time with our families, and may not pay us all that well considering how much student loan debt we have amassed, but there’s a certain pride that comes with this hard work, knowing that you are unleashing your full potential and pushing your limits to beyond what you thought you are capable of. What motivates me to keep going isn’t the money or the status (neither of which residents have much of anyway), but the personal sense of self worth to do the job right for our patients and for ourselves, and to do it well.

3. Value your time. Some days I go to work before sunrise then come back after sunset, and some nights I don’t come home at all. Some weeks I have no weekends, and other weeks I have either a Saturday or Sunday off, but not both. The little time I have with my family suddenly seem much more precious, and that occasional one day off is no longer ever wasted.

4. Feel your patient’s happiness. We had a patient who came in for progressive weakness that had crippled her for over a month. Having lost the ability to walk and move her arms, she went to several medical facilities who gave her the wrong diagnosis and treated her without any success. Despite treatment, her strength kept deteriorating and deteriorating to the point that she lost the ability to walk and move her arms. Her husband had to carry her everywhere she went. Frustrated with not knowing what was going on, worried that things won’t ever get better, but not giving up hope for a proper treatment, she finally came to our hospital. We did an extensive assessment and came to the diagnosis of a rare condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. After a whole month of worsening condition, she was finally put on the right treatment, and within days, she drastically regained her strength and ability to walk. She was really happy, and it moved me seeing how happy she was. It was moments like this that made me remember why I went into medicine, and why the hard work was worth working hard for.

Dr. and PA Ho

Dr. and PA Ho

 

Learning Curve

View from the Medical Center There’s so much I wanted to write about, like my experience during orientation, my first day of residency, Lyra’s 3rd month “birthday,” my first overnight on-call shift as a resident physician, my first paracentesis, and my struggles finding my way around the hospital system. However, it’s been 4 weeks since I started orientation and 2 weeks since I starting seeing patients,…

New Home, New Family, New Career

10483920_10100889962460353_228427512_n So we packed up the U-Haul, buckled Lyra into her carseat, and made the move north to my hometown of Macon where I am starting my new career as a family medicine resident at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. Seeing where all my other classmates have matched for residency, this 2.5 hour move from Irene’s hometown of Valdosta to Macon is a relatively…

Friendship

Chris, Arif, and me at High Falls. Me, Chris, and Arif as Anatomy TAs at AUC in 2010. Earlier this month, my good friends from med school, Arif and Chris, drove down to visit Irene, Lyra, and me here in Georgia. Chris was coming from  his pathology residency up in Pennsylvania and Arif was coming from his surgery program up in New York, so it was a lot of driving on their…

2014 Commencement Ceremony

Congratulations to the class of 2010!! There are more than 150 graduates this year. This picture shows the new graduates who attended the second session. This year’s graduation ceremony is finally here and I’ve waited a long time for this. This is the time when we all celebrate the culmination of the last four years and the beginning of our career in medicine. We recite the Hippocratic Oath (or at least the modern version that does not reference Apollo), and profess ourselves to do no harm.…

How Residents Spend Their Day

IMG_3055 I remember when we were pre-med students, we looked up to those who were already in med school and thought that their life was smooth sailing. Then once we proudly got into med school, we became “firsties” and looked up admirably to the fifth semester honor students as they walked across the stage during white coat ceremony, having their words of…

Three Mothers and Their Children

Three mothers and their children - L to R - April, Leah, and Irene Ho. Three mothers and their children – L to R – April, Leah, and Irene Ho. Dear Mom,
Ever since I became a parent, I appreciate more than ever the patience, dedication, and sacrifice that you made in your life to raise us to become the individuals we are today. Being a mom is not easy, especially to four boys. You taught us…

January, May, or September Semester?

aucclass Can you find me? Unlike US medical schools that have only one start date per year in the fall, Caribbean medical schools typically have 2 or 3 start dates. At AUC, students may start medical school in January, May, or, September. I’ve gotten quite a few questions about the difference between start dates and so I’d like to address the answer here in…

Loan Repayment Programs

Coins Med school is no doubt very expensive, and for international medical graduates like me, living in the Caribbean where cost of living is high and traveling around to different clinical rotation sites does not help the amounting debt that we build up during our training. After four strenuous years, I now have an MD degree, a Dr. in front of…

Before Residency

Benji_and_Lyra.JPG As I write this, Irene, Lyra, and I are taking a road trip up to Macon for a few days, getting some important things done for our move up to this town in the next few weeks. It’s been over a month and a half since we’ve been in the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World (or so we proudly…

Tips on Ranking Residency Programs

photo Residency interviews wrap up in late January, and by mid-February, you should already have an ordered list of how you are going to rank the programs you interviewed at. How you order your Rank Order List (ROL) can make a difference in where you go for residency. Here are some important tips on what to do and not to do…

A New Family

Photo Apr 11, 1 22 47 PM From the moment I met Irene, I have been impressed by her free spirit, dedication, and her ability to always make me smile, and I married her so that I will be smiling for the rest of my life. Irene is a strong woman and for the past nine months, she has been a trooper, not giving up a day…

Best Birthday Present Ever!

Irene and me when we first found out where I matched! It’s not everyday that you turn 30 and find out you landed a residency position to your first choice program. But that’s what happened yesterday, and I couldn’t be any more ecstatic. Yes, I’m happy to announce that I have matched into Mercer University School of Medicine’s Medical Center of Central Georgia Family Medicine Residency Program! This means I am going…

Any Day Now

4 months If you haven’t noticed from our Ecuador babymoon pictures, Irene and I are expecting our first baby soon! Irene is now at 38 weeks, which is considered at term, and so we’re preparing for our little girl to come any day now! For the past few months, Irene and I have been living in two different cities. I’ve been working on-and-off…

Look What I Got!

Matched I matched! I now have my first job as a family physician for the next three years! I want to thank my family, friends, and especially my dear wife Irene for all the endless support you all have given me these past few years. And to AUC, thank you for giving me this opportunity to pursue medicine, and for constantly challenging…

Following Up after a Residency Interview

Use simple cards to write follow-up messages. Use simple cards to write follow-up messages. Post-interview follow-ups are considered standard etiquette and a good way to continue communication with the residency program after the interview. Because programs are often bombarded with thank you notes and follow-up letters, the trick is to write long and specific enough to show that you’ve put some thought into it, but short enough so…

Questions to Ask and Be Asked on Residency Interviews

IMG_2669 Late October through early February is a crucial time for those applying for residency programs. It is the interview season. In these past few months, I have visited several different programs. I have put together a list of questions that I have been asked during my interviews, as well as questions that I have asked the interviewers. The questions you…

How Many Residency Programs Should I Apply to?

IMG_2667 As an IMG, the short answer is at least 100. The long answer is that it all depends on the attractiveness of your application, the competitiveness of your desired field, how much choice you would like to have, and how much you are willing to spend on applications. One mistake that some applicants make when applying to residencies is overestimating…

How to Prepare for Residency Application Season

glassespen Hi everyone! During the summer before the Match, it is important to start preparing for the residency application season. There are several things you can start doing to prepare for the residency application and interview season: Clean up your social media.
Understand that some residency programs and their connections may look you up online. As an aspiring physician, hopefully you’ve…

Which States Are Most IMG-Friendly?

NRMP States IMG friendly full When applying for residency, especially as an international medical graduate (IMG), it is important to apply broadly beyond the state or region that you want to end up, to maximize your chances at getting interviews and matching. Looking at the number of IMGs that match into residency in different states, it is clear that some states are more IMG-friendly than…
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