In Transition

USDA_MyPlate_greenAs many of you know, I have recently finished medical school, passed the Step 2 CK exam and am in the process of applying to residency programs in Family Medicine. I have almost two-thirds of a year before starting residency (fingers-crossed). In the meantime, I have moved back to my hometown of Macon, Georgia, and started working full-time with my father, a pediatrician, at our two clinics in Macon and Milledgeville, a town of about 18,000 people an hour northeast of Macon. In both clinics, I’ve been seeing patients, writing SOAP notes, doing minor procedures, conducting lab tests, and working with the EMR system. My father lets me do almost everything but sending out prescriptions, finalizing patient charts, and other things that only a licensed physician can do. For this, I really appreciate my experience here. My father loves teaching me, and I really enjoy learning from him the practical and business aspects of medical practice, things one can’t learn from a textbook. I feel this experience would help prepare me not only for the pediatric aspect of my Family Medicine career, but also Irene’s and my goal of eventually opening a private practice in the future.

Preventive Medicine

Because I am particularly interested in preventive medicine and patient education, a personal goal of mine is to develop my teaching skills in health, and so I’ve been experimenting with new, fun ways to teach my patients to eat right and exercise. When I first started working at the clinic, whenever I saw an overweight child, I would merely point to a picture of MyPlate on the wall and explain verbally to the parent how they should be feeding their child, but I found that this method did not make much of an impression on the parents, let alone the children. This week, I decided to do something different, and headed to Dollar General and bought a huge stack of paper plates and a pack of cheap crayons for a dollar each. When it came time to explain MyPlate to a child (and his or her parent), I pulled out the crayons and a paper plate, and drew the food groups on the plate. I had the child list and categorize the foods that they liked onto the different parts of the plate. I then let them keep the colorfully drawn and customized plate to serve as a visual guide the next time they fix themselves a plate of food when they eat. I find that this is much more interactive and effective than just talking, and the kids (and their parents) love it, and get to take a souvenir home with them from the clinic.

Macon Volunteer Clinic

I work Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, Fridays, and every other Saturday. Because I have Wednesdays off, I recently decided to do volunteer work in the community, and found an organization that I admired. With the support of donations, grants, and volunteers, the Macon Volunteer Clinic (MVC) provides free medical, dental, and eye care to uninsured working adults who cannot afford insurance. Most of the staff here, including nurses, doctors, and technicians, volunteer their time to care for patients. Some volunteers are retired professionals, while others are students who want to gain experience. Many of the doctors who donate their time here are family practitioners, and seeing their mission and dedication to the people in the community inspires me so much. As I do not have a medical license yet, my tasks at the MVC are limited, but I feel whatever I do here is for a good cause. I bring patients in, measure their vitals, and do brief interviews to fill in basic details on the EMR and charts for the doctors to see. Next week, I will volunteer at the front desk, and learn how that part of the practice is run. The team at MVC is full of good-hearted people and so far I really enjoy volunteering here.

The Next Step

Almost immediately after I found out I’ve passed the Step 2 CK exam, I have started studying for my next exam, Step 3 of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (final part), which I have to take by the end of my intern year of residency. Step 3 will be a two-part exam split between two days. Each day will be eight hours, with a total of 480 multiple choice questions and 12 computer-based clinical case simulations. While Step 2 CK tests you on the diagnosis and initial management of medical conditions, Step 3 tests you on your clinical judgement (how you evaluate a patient’s severity) and decision making in three types of settings: outpatient, inpatient, and emergency. I feel Step 3 will be a mentally and academically demanding exam, and because of this, I think it’s better not to delay studying for it, especially since Step 2 CK is still fresh in my head. Between applying for residencies, working full-time, volunteering, studying, and spending quality time with family back home and with Irene on the weekends, I’ll be quite occupied before residency starts.