I’d like to take a moment to express how thankful I am with my life right now.

First of all, I am living with my wife, Irene, who makes me happy everyday that I’m with her. We both share similar experiences, as we both are students and roughly have the same schedule of going to rotations in the mornings and coming back in the evening. As she is on her surgery rotation at the moment, she actually gets home later than me. Being both students, and in the medical field, is great because we can talk about things we see for the day and both be interested in each other’s stories. And after we both come home from clinicals, we both walk downstairs to the gym or take a walk outside or cook dinner together. Life for both of us is on the same page, and it’s awesome.

Irene and I enjoying our balcony

Second, I feel absolutely thrilled to live in a place as exciting as Miami — with its diversity of culture (particularly Latin and Caribbean cultures), food scene, warm weather — and we’re right in the heart of it too. Up 29 stories in the middle of Brickell, the financial district of Miami, we have the most amazing view of downtown Miami, which by the way, has quite an impressive skyline. At night, from our balcony, we see a sea of lights stretching to the edges of the horizon. Living here makes me appreciate the joy of city living. But what’s more amazing than our view is our location. Although I brought my car with me to Miami, I hardly use it. That’s because on most days, I don’t need it. So far for the past 6 weeks that I’ve been in my internal medicine rotation, I’ve been rotating at University of Miami Hospital and Jackson Memorial Hospital, both located in the Health District of Miami, which is accessible by MetroRail (Civic Center Station). Several times a month, I also do Emergency Room Shifts at Hialeah Hospital, also a short walk from a MetroRail station (TriRail Link Station). And luckily for me, our apartment is right across the street from the Brickell MetroRail station. Every morning, it’s a joy to walk out of my apartment with a white coat and tie and catch the train, zipping through the beautiful high-rises and cityscape of Miami, arriving at Civic Center MetroRail station, along with a bunch of other doctors, med students, nurses, and health care workers in their scrubs and white coat going to work. You also see med students from all sorts of med schools rotating in Miami, not just the schools in Miami but also Caribbean schools like AUC, Ross, and Saba. We all blend in together as part of the health care community.

The view from our balcony

Another thing I love about our apartment’s location is the convenience. Publix grocery store is just around the corner, along with the bank, post office, L.A. Fitness, Walgreens, dry cleaners, restaurants, shopping, and everything else we need. We can pretty much walk to everywhere we need to go. And if we want to go downtown, we can catch the MetroMover, which is free to ride, to Bayfront Park (the “Central Park” of Miami) or Bayside Marketplace to stroll or hear some live music. Sometimes Irene and I would just ride the MetroMover all around downtown just for fun. Also there’s always something going on in Miami, whether it’s a community gathering, free concert, festival, market, or food truck event, and it’s cool to be able to step out our door and experience something new.

Irene and I at a Honduran restaurant after our rotations

And last but not least, I absolutely love my outpatient rotation at the moment. For the past two weeks, I’ve been rotating with Dr. Rodriguez in an outpatient clinic at the University of Miami Hospital. He is my third attending during my internal medicine rotation (my first 2 were inpatient hospitalists). As I am the only student rotating with him, I am getting one-on-one attention, and he lets me see every English-speaking patient that comes into the office. So for each patient that I see, I’ve been taking patient histories, review of systems, physical examination, using the electronic medical records, and even deciding which labs to order (which he has to approve, of course). I think this is an awesome experience that is so much more valuable than just shadowing, which I had a lot of with my first two attendings last month in the inpatient setting. When I first started with Dr. Rodriguez, I initially found myself more as a messenger for the patient, relaying what the patient says to the doctor, and doing very generic physical exams. But now that I see more and more patients by myself, I find myself becoming more of a manager for the patient, applying my own knowledge in advising the patients on certain health issues like diet and exercise and explaining certain conditions or diseases. I find myself tailoring more and more of my physical examinations to the patients’ individual needs and risks, to figure out what is wrong before the doctor even sees the patient. And finally, by seeing patients and patients by myself, I learned to better discern what is normal or abnormal in an examination.

Last week, Dr. Rodriguez even let me perform a breast exam on a female patient by myself. He had asked me if I know how to do one, and having already had the experience of learning and practicing colorectal, breast, and genital exams on live patients (actors) that the school flew down to the island during Inroduction to Clinical Medicine 5 (ICM 5), I confidently told him I’ve done one before. It made me realize how lucky we are as AUC students to have gotten this training before we even set foot in clinical, and this sets us apart from students from other schools who may not have gotten this same experience.

Besides letting me see patients on my own, Dr. Rodriguez even finds the time to sit down with me one-on-one several times a week to teach me about EKGs and heart blocks (his passion). This is something you don’t often see attendings in the US do (but much more common in the UK) and I am thankful for this.

The hospital I rotate at

Even though I’m only on my third week of outpatient medicine, I already feel like I’ve learned so much from this rotation, and it has let me put everything I learned on the island during ICM to practice. And through practice, I’m learning more and more how to become a doctor.

By the way, for those of you still on the island, learn everything you learn in ICM well because your attendings will already expect you to know how to do physical examinations and interview patients. ICM gives you a solid foundation for skills you will apply and perfect during clinicals and beyond.

5 comments to Thankful

  • Irene Gung

    I loved reading this post. I am also very thankful to be here in Miami and building our memories together. You have a great ability of letting someone know you care and that’s what makes you a great future Physician.

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  • Arlene

    Hi Benji!

    In spirit of this post, I’d like to take a moment to say thank YOU. Your blog is truly a treasure. Not only is it filled with what seems like an endless amount of invaluable information for any newcomer to the world of medicine, it’s also full of heart.

    I’ve been spending the last few months scouring the web for blogs that give insight into the world of a Caribbean medical student. With your blog, we get so much more than just that.

    A few weeks ago I was accepted to AUC! It was a great moment in life for me and one that I will never forget. Because of your blog, I know AUC is the school for me. I’m excited more than ever to begin my journey as so many have before me.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderfully positive outlook on what it’s been like to experience life as a medical student. AUC should be very proud to have someone like you represent them.

    Good luck to you and Irene in your careers and in your life together!



    • Benji

      Thank you so much Arlene! Congratulations and welcome to the AUC family! I really wish you the best in the start of your medical endeavors. I’ve had an amazing experience so far and can’t be any more thankful for the opportunities that the school has given me.
      All the best to you!

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