Learning Curve

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, and I’ve been so busy that I hardly have the time now to write about everything I want to write about. So finally today, after 16 hours of overnight shift in the hospital, the max I am allowed as an intern, I finally got some time to sit down and review the last few weeks.

View from the Medical Center

View from the Medical Center

I understand now when they say that residency is a huge learning curve from med school. We now have more responsibilities than we ever had in med school, and we will have even more once we become an upper level resident and then an attending after finishing residency. I remember the first day on the job two weeks ago when I was assigned my new patients to see on the floor, six of them total. It frightened me to realize that whatever notes I wrote on a patient now truly “counted” and that whatever medication I prescribed, the patient actually gets it. There’s no upper level resident or attending that needs to sign for me. I sign it, and that was a scary realization for me. Having power and responsibility is frightening, especially when people’s lives are involved.

View of Macon from the hospital.

There’s so much I need to learn now, and while I do have exams to study for, the main reason for me to study now is to figure out what’s going on with my patients and how to manage them better. I find that although I have an MD behind my name and I can order lab tests and medications now, the nurses who have worked at the hospital for years and years have so much more intuition about patient care because of their experience. I appreciate them a lot and know I can learn a lot from them by working with them.

High Street, downtown Macon, Georgia

For those of you who are interested in getting into the medical profession, it’s important to realize that learning never ends once you step into this field, and neither does the test taking. The 4.5 hour-long MCAT is certainly no match for the 7-8 hour USMLE Step 1 and 2 Exams, nor the 2-day-long USMLE Step 3. Testing doesn’t end with the steps, and lectures do not end at med school Basic Sciences. We have lectures and grand rounds during residency as well as In-Service Training Exams to pass. Even after residency, we must satisfy a certain number of Continuing Medical Education credits every 2 years to keep our license to practice in our states, and must take a board recertification exam every 8 years to continue to be a board-certified physician to practice in our specialty. To become a doctor is to become a committed life-long student. As long as you know what you are getting into, things won’t seem too bad, and this is certainly true for me right now in residency.

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…

How to Improve Your MSPE Letter

IMG_2671 The Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE), formerly known as the “Dean’s Letter,” is a major component to your residency application. As its name suggests, it is a multiple page evaluation of your performance during all four years of medical school, including the good and the bad. It is put together by the school and sent to all the residency programs…
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