10 Things I Learned as an Interviewer for the Interviewee

Originally posted September 2017

As a fourth year medical students (yikes) I was able to become an interviewer for my medical school. So yes, that means maybe someone I’ve interviewed may one day see this. Though probably not. Anyways, it was very surreal to be on the other side of the process all these years later and while I’m getting ready for interviews myself (anyone want me for residency, btw?)

A lot of expectations and previous notions about interviews that I had really did change and I can see how intricate the process actually is, and I get why we get asked the questions we do. At least somewhat better.

All experiences and interviewers are different but here are some things I think can really help out the interviewee. Maybe things you thought were hard and fast rules but aren’t or things you didn’t expect us to be looking for. Anything to help! And while this is directed at pre-meds, the advice should still general enough that anyone can use it, if they want.

Some things to know beforehand; I was part of a two-on-one interview setting which lasted 30 minutes with a few preset questions we needed to ask. The interview was blind, so we couldn’t see stats.

Take a second to observe your interviewers.

This isn’t an open invitation to judge your interviewers, but most of us are pretty telling in the way we present ourselves. If you can take a break for the nerves for a second pay attention to our introductions, our demeanor and how we’re dressed. It can give you a sense of how relaxed or stringent we may be and what our personalities may be like even if we were told to stay stone cold poker-faced. And always keep in mind who your interviewers are and what departments they’re from. It can help guide the tone we set for the entire interview.

Play off the interviewers.

Now that you’ve taken a moment to take in your surroundings use those to your advantage. If we’re playing tough, answer with strength and intention. If we’re relaxed, don’t sit so stiff and maybe get us to laugh. If you are asked thought provoking questions, take time to think about it and provide thought provoking answers. The more you work with us, the easy and more open a dialog becomes and the more personable the interview will become. It’s a great way to show flexibility and adaptation, and for the interviewers who did this well we found ourselves impressed.

If I’m offering you information, take it.

If I am telling you that I am a 4th year and I can answer your questions about rotations, classes, or student life I am literally giving you questions to ask me in the event you have forgotten all of yours. If faculty tells you which program they are a part of and what they specialize in they are opening that line of information for you. They are telling you were their interests and focuses are and you can run with that, if you like.

Please, please do your research.

We had an application who couldn’t tell us what they liked our school. Had no idea what the mission statement was or what the goals of the school were. Didn’t have a clue. I had to use my doctor face so I could stay neutral. It was bad. I get that you just want to be in medical school but come on. Point blank, there is no excuse for anyone to know nothing about the program they’re interviewing for. You should also have worked out answers for frequently asked questions. Getting stumped on classic medical school questions…it’s a big red flag. So please plan ahead and do your research.

Pick the length of your answers carefully.

Different types of questions prompt different types of answers. There are a lot of questions that can prompt follow up questions. Hobbies for example; going into every detail about your hobbies is probably counterproductive. But that’s assuming you have a fair amount of things you like to do that aren’t medicine. You can add a snip here and there, like “I’ve done that for 15 years” or “it’s really a huge passion of mine” but if there is interest in hearing more, we’ll most likely ask. If you only have one thing, don’t think “I like running” is a good enough answer. Give us something to work with. There are questions, especially theoretical ones or tell me a story situations that are meant to be longer. And always keep in mind your time limit.

Be confident, not cocky.

There is a huge difference between smug and confident. We had one prospect who gave this shit-eating “gotcha” grin after every question they thought they had aced. It was almost like they were trying to directly challenging me. It got to the point that I stopped caring what they were saying and was just getting pissed. The answers could have been great (they weren’t) but all that stuck with me was the cockiness. Not sure if you do that unintentionally? That’s what practice interviews are for. There are very clear differences when someone was proud of an answer and were pleased, and what this individual was doing. And if you do act that way, personally, I don’t want you representing my school, regardless of what your application looks like.

I don’t care about the “right” answer. I care why.

I know there are certain questions answers that are kind of set in stone. And I know straying too far from say, an ethics question, is hard to do in a new and unique way. The way to make yourself stand out from the crowd is to explain the reasons why you believe this to be the “right” answers since those tend to differ among applicants and shows your critical thinking skills past “well obviously this is the right answer”. Aside from that most interviewers don’t have specific expectations for most questions. We’d rather just hear about you and your personal experiences, honestly.

We’re not always looking for your spoken answer.

Sometimes we’re looking at your body language. I will purposefully ask questions I know there are only a few answers too. Not because I want to know if you know it, but rather how you viscerally respond. Do you look uncomfortable when answering an ethics or grades question? Did you answer robotically? Are you still looking at me? Can you pick yourself back up after a rough question? What you do speaks just as loud as the things your saying and I’m looking for it.

Use your personality and responses to show you want to be here. Not your grades.

This was not an isolated event. I had a few prospective students speak about a class and sneak in “which I got an A in” and continue. Not really a fan of that. I naturally assume that everyone we interviewed had good enough grades and scores because, well, you’re at the interview. At this point in the process all I want if for you to shine beyond those things and prove to me that you can be a doctor on paper and in person.

Make me feel connected to you.

In the end, I want to feel like I know who you are. I want to know what you stand for and I want to experience the person who wants to become a physician. I want to appreciate your story and how far you’ve come. We don’t need to become best friends, we don’t need to have similar thoughts or values or personalities. But I want to feel like we could understand each other now and in the future. Let me be excited about you and for you. Let me want you to be here so I can check accept.

I hope someone was able to get something useful from this because for all of you here dying to enter this crazy profession I want you to reach your goals. I really do, and I’m just doing all I can on the internet. Good luck to everyone on your interviews!


50 Things I Learned to Succeed on Rotations

Originally posted January 2017

I think I’ve finally been a third year long enough to write a post on how to succeed during rotations without having to be a grand showman and intellectual prodigy. I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes and straight up screw ups, I’ve also had a lot more successes than I expected.

Hopefully, what I write is useful to those starting or already on rotations (though I’m sure many of you are totally killing it already) and remember these are based on my experiences and of what I’ve learned from people I know so your experiences may be different. This isn’t a ‘how to’ guide, more a quick hit of helpful notes to take into consideration.

I also feel like maybe 50 wasn’t enough to actually illustrate what rotations are like, so if anyone wants to add more to this please do.

Tried and True

  • Show up the first day, bright eyed and bushy tailed no matter how hard the last rotation was.
  • Always try to be there early, before the doctor, even if it’s just a little bit.
  • Read, read, read.
  • If you’ve got a question, ask a question.
  • If you don’t have a question, find a question.
  • Always bring your stethoscope the first day.
  • Then keep it in proximity regardless of rotation. Steths always find a way.
  • Always be stocked up with pens you aren’t worried about losing (or getting stolen).
  • It’s a good idea to be cautiously respectful and formal, even if it seems a tad overkill.
  • You’ll change your mind about what you want to be a few times. You might end up back where you started or on the other end of the spectrum. It’s all good.
  • Take initiative to learn! Ask to try or do things! Show you want to learn.
  • Nothing looks better than confidence, even if you need to fake it.

Clinic and Hospital

  • Credentialing and orientation is a general pain in the butt, but try to pay attention. A lot of it is actually pretty important.
  • If you get the chance, wander the hospital. Get a good feel for it and try to get oriented.
  • If you’re in a clinic, learn as many names of as many daily staff as soon as possible.
  • EMRs are going to suck, especially when you first start using them.
  • Usually, you can’t do anything on EMRs as a student except look, but in the event you can be careful with it. Don’t go clicking things all willy-nilly when you have that much power.
  • Don’t forget your ID, or you’ll get stuck in limbo of waiting for doors to open.
  • Keep a hand sanitizer in your pocket. Some places aren’t so good about it.
  • Locate a place in the hospital which you can cry in peace. In clinic, outside around the corner is generally a safe bet for a good cry.
  • The medical profession tend to a superstitious bunch, so don’t say the Q word even when it is, hope you don’t have ER on Full Moon, and hope you’re not a black cloud.
  • Be willing to help any staff. Just because it’s not the physician doesn’t mean they can’t teach you!
  • Patients are usually receptive to your care and learning, but always err on the side of caution. Remember, do no harm.
  • BE NICE TO THE NURSES. Be nice to the residents! Be nice to the front staff! Just be nice to everyone!

A Little Extra

  • First impressions matter. Make the extra effort to look very put together the first few days.
  • Last impressions are just as important. You might be tired, but that little bit extra goes a long way.
  • Know just a touch about current events. It’s good conversation for patients and medical anyone, since they get to exist in the real world.
  • So remember that medical staff are people too! You can talk to most like you would anyone else, but always remember to stay appropriate.
  • If you’re struggling with the deciding a specialty, ask why the people on that rotation chose that one!
  • Learn when to ask questions. There are appropriate times which vary by preceptor and residents. (I’m not a fan of asking Qs in front of patients just so they don’t get freaked out.)
  • Pick your battles. Someone, somewhere is going to say something you can’t believe. There are times to speak up which is incredibly important, but sometimes you just need to let it go.
  • Use your resources! Use hospital libraries, online sources, and people from your class and above. The latter is especially good to learn quirks about preceptors.

Sure fire Don’ts

  • Sometimes you’ll be introduced as Dr. ___ instead of student doctor which is alright, but don’t run with it. You’re still a student.
  • If you aren’t 100% sure on instructions, don’t wing it. Patient safety is more important than you not feeling like an idiot.
  • It doesn’t matter how buddy-buddy you get with your preceptor. The physicians are your bosses. Residents are your superiors. So treat them as such.
  • Don’t scrub in without knowing the way the hospital, surgeon, and OR nurses want it done. That’s an easy way to get in trouble and be limited in the OR.
  • Don’t say no to requests. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable doing something, say so! But don’t turn down doing a pap smear because you don’t feel like doing it.
  • Try not to get too into politics, even if you agree with the doctor’s opinions. Just save yourself the frustration.
  • Don’t mess with your phone too often. And please, please, don’t take selfies in front of staff?!?
  • Don’t be afraid of your personality! Keep it professional, but stay true to you.

Odds and Ends

  • Keep up with your hobbies to help keep your sanity.
  • Even comfortable shoes need to be broken in.
  • Rotations can be a lot of walking and sometimes none at all. If it’s a non-mover, try to get some steps in.
  • Keep up with friends/classmates. 3rd year can get a little lonely if you’re not on rotation with anyone you know or anyone at all.
  • You can’t please everyone. And evaluations are subjective as hell. Just do your best.
  • You’ll for sure know which rotations you never want, and you’ll get closer to what you do. It could take longer than you hoped, but you’ll get there.
  • There will be a moment where you feel right where you belong. You don’t forget it.
  • You don’t need to love everything and you don’t need to fake or act like you do, but never disrespect another specialty.
  • This may be the first and last time you get to do certain things in medicine.
  • Appreciate all of it.

I hope these tips help save a few souls in the real hospitals and clinics! Good luck!

10 Things to Help You Stay Safe at School and Work

Originally posted September 2016

As a medical student and a martial artist one of my biggest passions in life is helping people stay safe and teach them how to defend themselves. And one of the things that scares me the most is how my classmates talk about not knowing what would happen if they were alone in a dark parking lot at strange hours. That’s and insane idea to me.

I’ve taught multiple self-defense seminars ranging from children to sororities to LGBT+ organizations to really teach people that they have the right to fight back and how to do it in the best way for themselves. This has given the unique ability to modify and create self-defense strategies for different walks of life. That’s why I’ve taken my time to think of a way to express that online.

I can’t really show you how to take someone down, I can give you a good list of how to stay vigilant and a few intuitive techniques so that you can stay safe. I hope you find it helpful!

1. Don’t trust objects alone

“Oh, I have pepper spray.” Maybe you have a metal defense stick, or a little knife. That’s cool, I guess. But where exactly do you have it? Buried somewhere in a purse? Maybe jammed into your glovebox or perhaps on a different set of keys. In the long run, having an external force of self-protection can be useful but they’re useless unless you always have them on you. It’s really a false sense of security. It’s best to learn to use what you have including your limbs, head, rings, bag and my personal favorite…

2. Learn a new way to use your keys

When you’re walking in a parking lot the first thing you should do before leaving is pull out your keys. You should have them gripped in your hands either than the keys are sticking out from one side or the blades of the keys are between your fingers. If someone comes up to you with nefarious intentions you can literally just swing your keys across their face. Trust me, they will not put up an appreciable chase when you just slashed them full force.

3. Approach your car with caution

This one is a little specific, but very relevant for current times. As you’re walking towards your car, try to get a glance underneath. For some stupid reason there is a trend of people hanging out under cars waiting for you to talk up to they can slash your Achilles tendon so you can’t run away (how f’ed up is that?) In the unlikely event this occurs, you immediately go into a safe building, call the police and tell them there is a body under your car (not that someone is trying to attack you).

4. A distracted target is an easy target

Do not walk around with headphones in, do not play on your phone, do not absent mindedly speak on the phone in while in a dark or enclosed area. The more invested you seem in something else, the more you leave yourself vulnerable, and people notice that. Even if you are on the phone, keep your head up and looking around while speaking at a moderately high volume. This lets everyone around you know, hey I’m attentive and in-tune.

5. Walk with a purpose

If you look like you know where you’re going and are attentive you give off being a certain type of person. A person who is in control. Basically it says “you don’t want to mess with me, because I am ready to go at all times.” Like a hawk. If you walk hunched over, looking nervous and suspicious, it makes you look too afraid to be able to do anything. So even if you’re afraid, walk like you mean it.

6. Do the opposite of what is expected

What I mean by this is if say, someone pulls your hair from behind or grabs at your wrists, instead of trying to yank back and get away push towards your attacker. This will disorient them because they weren’t expecting such a reaction. You will also be in less pain, and be composed enough to do something to get away like smash your head into their nose or heel stomp them. If they want your wallet, just give it to them. They won’t expect it and if that’s all they want they’ll leave. You can replace cards and ID, but you can’t replace your life.

7. Find your voice

I’ve taught a lot of self-defense, as I’ve mentioned. And I promise, every time I tell anyone to practice yelling someone always thinks it funny. But you know what’s not funny? How many people completely freeze up when they’re grabbed from behind and or being pulled away. It’s like making any noise at all is an impossibility which is an extremely dangerous place to be. As awkward as it may be, a well-placed scream or yell is a very effective move all in itself.

8. Let someone know where you’ll be

Easy, simple, effective, but easy to forget. Also, establishing a recognizable pattern of when you come and go to people around you is a really good idea. That way, if someone is out of the ordinary the people around you will realize something is not right.

9. Take a self-defense class

I can tell what techniques to use, but honestly that’s not very useful. To really be able to protect yourself you need to know what it means to actually strike something to be able to translate that into striking someone. A good class will teach you wrist releases, elbows, knees and plenty of other ways to escape a potentially dangerous situation. It’s worth the time to go to a class, and who knows? You might really like it.

10. You are the most important person

I hate the idea that a lot of these practices are made to turn attention away from one target to another possibly. I really wish that something that weren’t the case and that we didn’t even have to worry about this crap. But that just isn’t so. As long as people are willing you to hurt others, you must remember that the most important person is you and it is your priority to keep yourself safe. If you can help someone, in anyway, that is amazing. But you are your own number one.

Stay safe out there everyone!


10 Things I Learned in Med School That I Didn’t Know Until I Got There

Happy New Years 2016!

As a second year medical student I will say that I am very qualified to share my wisdom, considering I still barely know anything at all. It’s time to share some things I learned before 2016 takes my soul!

Every time I talk to a pre-med; “I would love to be where you are.” And while I love where I am, it’s not all rainbow and people showering your with “yay you made it” flowers. There’s a lot I feel like even among the medblr community we don’t touch on too often because it can take a while to see them in all the action. I think they’re important though.

Remember, these are from personal experience! I learned a lot in the the last year and half but you might have different experiences and that’s just fine! Just take it so you know!

1. It’s a small world 

When was the last time you got the spend all your time among 150 people, give or take a few? And you cannot escape them. You’re stuck. That’s what you have to survive in med school. You know that. But the world of medicine is so much smaller than that. Hospitals are even smaller than that. Rotations are usually in a small region. People know people. People love to talk. We live in an itty bitty medical world. Things will always follow you, good or bad. So make your big mark on this bitty world a good one.

2. All class environments are different

Many schools do have an expected class style, and there’s a good chance your will follow suit. I personally think it’s an important thing to look into. But your class style depends on your classmates. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the land of southern hospitality, hardcore city life or rustic heart and soul. Your class could be anything. They could be your new family or they could be blood and guts cut throat. You won’t know until you show up. But there’s still a good chance no matter what you get, you’ll still find kin.

3. Have expectations for yourself but not others 

Expecting good things from yourself, whether it be academically, morally, ethically, whatever I don’t run your life. But don’t project those same things onto other people. Most of them you haven’t known very long. It takes a while to really build strong, trust worthy relationships. One day you might get to the point where you expect things from your classmates, your friends. Just keep yourself at high standards and hopefully, others will too.

4. Let people be there for you 

There’s a lot of pride that goes along with wanting to fix your problems yourself. You’re going to be facing very new, very real challenges. It can be hard because as a future medical-whatever, you think you should be able to solve all the problems. And you should, but it never has to be alone. So why should your issues be any different? So if you have friends, family, whoever wants to help you when you need it, don’t feel like you can’t accept. It’s not weakness to accept kindness. It’s strength to know when you need it. Life is already hard enough, let’s let others be kind so we can be kind in return.

5. Grades are not a coping mechanism 

We say it all the time, grades do not define you. This tends to be in reference to not as good grades. But what about people with good grades? I’ve noticed that people who do well tend to use their grades to deal with the constant feeling of inadequacy that many medical students suffer from, but I think everyone needs to realize grades are not your numerical worth. Grades don’t last forever. Those numbers can’t save you when things go wrong. You have to trust in what you know, beyond multiple choice and scores.

6. The realist and the pessimist

“I’m just saying what’s true.” You hear it all the time. And yes, you can’t expect everything to always go your way. But you also can’t constantly think everything is working against you and be resentful. Even if it sometimes seems that way. There is just as much positive thinking in realism as their is negative. The worst thing that happens in that you drown in the negative and trust me, you can’t afford that. Learn to distinguish between the two. It can cause you a lot anxiety to have someone say negative things aloud. It’s okay to be naturally pessimistic, but you can’t let it get in the way of yours or others mental well-being. Even if it’s hard, try to see the sun on a dark day.

7. Don’t expect things to happen

For most of us, no one is offered anything in med school. Why? Because everything needs to be earned and everyone wants everything. While a resident may say “come do research with me” or a doctor says “of course you can shadow me” no way in hell are they going to come after you. If you want it, you have to go get it. Medical school is just one big race so even if you walk you’ll make it to the end. But if you run and get make opportunities happen chances are you’ll be a lot happier with your finishing place.

8. Disappointment is just another word for opportunity 

I joke all the time with my friend that if you keep your expectations low, you’re never disappointed. I don’t actually do that, but that’s how often it happens. Most of us come from a place of success, but failure is what builds you. And to be honest, failure, no matter what it means to you, is disappointing no matter how you dress it. But that doesn’t mean its an end all. It just means you have to find a new way to achieve what you want, forcing you to take a new spin on the unexpected, and giving you a chance you would have never thought of.

9. Don’t box yourself in, but don’t leave the building 

I think there is an equal amount of pressure to know what you want to do as a doctor and not to choose before you do rotations. Which makes no sense, but that’s how it goes. It is very important to keep an open mind, but you know yourself better than anyone. Why submit yourself to the torture of a specialty you know you’ll hate (if you don’t have to) because you have to be open minded? But you also don’t have to shut yourself out from things you aren’t sure about. Trust yourself on this stuff.

10. You are special, but no one knows it yet 

Just like you can’t expect to be handed anything, you can’t expect people will know how fantastic you are right off the bat. You have to show them how much you shine. It’s so easy to forget how great you are when it you’re too busy to remember all those great things about yourself. It will take time, but people will start to see your good qualities and skills as long as you continue to believe in those skills and yourself. You got this.

I hope you guys liked it and that you reach all your goals this next year!


10 Things I learned to Do Right at a Conference

Originally posted October 2016

Well technically things to both rock out and to not look like an ass.

I went to a conference this week! I really like going to them, I think everyone should go to at least one! It’s not my first one, which makes me think maybe I have some inkling of how to be successful at one? But I’ve also seen something that are…questionable… So for all those who want some useful tips, have a read!

Remember these are based on my own experiences and opinions, so things may be different for you. I just want to share what I’ve learned.

1. Pack heavy

Basically the inverse of pack light. Even if you’re flying. As long as you don’t exceed weight limits and such, pack extra everything. You never know what will happen when you aren’t near home and the last thing you want is to be freaking out because the shampoo exploded and now you only have one usable outfit. And pack in different styles, some conferences are business cas, while others are FORMAL. You can check ahead, but you never really know until you get there.

2. Come prepared 

That means business cards, little notebook, pens, a place to carry handouts, a place for all your free swag from vendors, stuff like that. Some conferences are into bringing CVs but really only bring that if it’s suggested. You probably won’t be passing out a ton of cards, but if someone asks, it’s kind of embarrassing to not have one so get some!

3. You are still the bottom rung 

Medical students right? We’ll never catch a break. You should be able to spot a med student at a conference because we should be the best dressed, the most invested, the most bright eyes and in awe. That’s because we’re technically invading an event for residents and attendings. This means our needs, wants, and opinions are not the priority. You aren’t there to challenge the system, or change the world. You are there to learn from those with MUCH MORE experience than you. Stay humble.


4. Don’t be afraid to climb!

Even if you are the just the med student, don’t be afraid to approach residents and the attendings! Let them get to know you, show your face, be engaged! Answers questions if you can! Just because you should be humble, doesn’t mean you should be meek! Most conference attendees are happy to talk to you and give you advice. And the worst anyone can do is say they don’t want to talk.

5. Have many well thought out questions

Having good, solid questions will do two things for you. 1) you’ll have your very important questions answered and 2) you’ll really look like you’ve been taking the time to be invested, which impresses basically everyone. We did a speed dating thing with residents from different programs with a group a students asking one or two residents questions, and most people had great questions…but some of the things that got asked were…weird. Not bad, but they were confusing, poorly worded, or flat out irrelevant. We only had 20 minutes per resident, so it seems like a waste of time. This also happened, though to a much less extent in the program director panel. It would just behoove you to know what is important to you, and what you want to ask before hand. Write them down if you need. It just lets you learn A LOT more in these rare chances.

6. If you go alone, you represent your school

Yep. Just you, holding the entire weight of your school’s name. And don’t get me wrong, people understand a single person is not completely representative of a class population but its kind of an initial though everyone has. It can also be intimidating to go alone, especially when some schools bring pretty substantial groups. At the conference I was at, everyone was friendly so no single riders got left out.

7. If you go in a group, all of you represent your school

I hate to have to say it, but you might end up babysitting. The thing with conferences is that you get to know your classmates on a weird new level, some being great, and some being completely awful. Most people will remember features of a group rather than each individual, so you want to make sure everyone makes everyone else look good. And individual can still ruin everything, and it can be a huge pain to literally have to watch over a freaking adult. Other times it will be completely fantastic, and you end up being the cool kids group. Just try your best to have a good group dynamic.

8. Don’t obsess over studying

Yes, I understand that even when you aren’t at school, med school never takes a break. And there will be time to get some studying in. Maybe not as much as you normally would, but some here and there. Just don’t make it constant thing you’re “reminding” everyone of. They know. And if you were so worried about studying, then going to a conference maybe wasn’t the best option. Know your limits.

9. Take notes!

Really? Yes really! I mean, you don’t have to take notes on any special lectures you attend (it’s probably still over your head anyways), but if you have a student section they are most likely giving you new tools to make yourself a better candidate for residency programs. And chances are, you won’t remember all of it, especially when the time comes that you actually need it!

10. Share!

A lot of the things you learn at a conference is the most up to date information currently available, which most likely means your school hasn’t gone into great detail for it, because a lot the info seems “far off”. That’s not really the case, so if you can, share what you learned with your classmates. I actually hope that after the info session is done at my school, I can share ours with you guys!

As long as I get permission, look forward to the written version of the conference information session from my school! I hope you guys enjoy!


10 Things I Learned While Shadowing an Orthopedic Surgeon

Originally posted August 16th, 2015

I’ve spent a good chunk of my summer following a fantastic orthopedic surgeon in the clinic (the hospital wouldn’t approve me for the OR booo). It was so much fun, and I learned a ton, not just about orthopedics but the qualities that a good doctor should have. I’ve seen a lot of great things that I thought you guys would find it interesting!

I’m slowly being pulled into a torrent of a competitive specialty and I’m terrified, but sometimes you just can’t fight the feeling. I’m still keeping an open mind of course! But maybe I’m into it. 

My experience is just one of many, and will be different from yours and others. This is just my take, so I hope you enjoy!

1. Everyone gets osteoarthritis. EVERYONE.

You’re going to get it. I’m going to get it. Everyone will get it. It just depends on when. It’s such a major cause of pain, and there isn’t too much that can be done for it once it gets bad enough, except to get brand new joints. But! If you use your body the way it’s suppose to by doing plenty of walking and getting those shoulders, hips and knees in the groove it supposedly keeps you from getting the pains that ache and never leave.

2. Charisma is king in this specialty. 

I haven’t done rotations yet, and I’ve only shadowed so many doctors, but I have never seen patients who were once ornery and pissed for waiting for 2 hours to have some staples removed melt into mush babies as soon as the doctor starts talking to them. He relates to the patients so amazingly. He had the way. I learned a ton of tricks and for the few times I got to in on my own, I got to practice my own form of doctor charisma. And let me tell you guys. Learn to do it.

3. Joint replacements are not for the youth. 

THEY ARE FOR OLDER FOLKS. People in their 70s and 80s. People who will most likely not need a revision in 20 years. Sometimes it for people who need nothing but comfort. But more and more people in their 60s, 50s and even 40s need them on the regular. Luckily, technology evolves and joint replacements are made of better material, stronger alloys, and last longer than replacements from even 10 years ago. But technology can’t change the original purpose at least not yet.

4. Try somewhere else for pain meds. 

Many hospital systems do not allow orthopods to prescribe long term narcotics for pain. They can only give the good stuff (if you count terrible constipation as good) after surgery and for a few weeks afterwards. You actually have to get them from a primary care or pain management doc.

5. There no middle ground for cortisol. You either REALLY want the shot or you REALLY don’t. 

There is a face that patients make who have never had a large shot before. They clench up, shoulders rise, their eyes widen and search for anyone else in the room for confirmation that this won’t be completely terrible. It’s no little baby needle either. Those who accept grin and bear it, hopefully to become a little more seasoned like those who are basically ready to stick themselves. No fear, not a flinch. They’re ready and they want that relief. Rarely ever is anyone indifferent, or so I’ve seen.

6. If you think you break your finger/toe go get checked out right away!

This is more of a PSA but fingers and toes heal really quickly, so after ¾ weeks they can’t do much to fix those tootsies. I saw at least 4 people who’s poor fingers were forever shortened, or bent to a new odd direction that are now fated to be that way forever. So don’t end up like with with a mutant pinky, and take care of your digits.

7. Always and forever behind on patients. 

At least in this clinic. Let me tell you, the PAs at this office were on point. But when you only schedule 5 to 10 minutes per patient what do you think would happen! Sometimes it was a quick in and out, but with charisma comes conversation and with conversation comes a need for time. Plus people usually have a lot a questions when it comes to pain or surgery, and sometimes certain causes of pain can be confusing (like the difference between hip and back pain). But that’s just the way, for everyone.
8. Sometimes it takes someone outside a specialty to figure out what the problem is. 

There was more than once instance where the orthopedic surgeon figured out a long undiagnosed genetic disease, or found that back pain was really due to a neurological reason, and not a bulging disc. And there were other times where he would receive information from a patient’s cardiologist or primary care doc saying they found s source of pain that was orthopedic in nature. From that I learned even if you are the master of your specialty, you may not always have all the answers which is why it’s so important for medicine to be a team.

9. There may not be many female physicians but there are plenty of female medical professionals and staff in an ortho setting.

It’s very true that women are a small minority of orthopedic surgeons (14% of residents currently) but that’s something that’s starting to take a shift. But that doesn’t mean an orthopedic service just the boy’s club it’s made out to be. Many of the PAs, nurses, PTs, and Athletic trainers were amazing, intelligent and talented women who were insanely important to the entire entity that is orthopedic medicine. And they were awesome and I can only hope to be as great as they are one day.

10. Orthopedics is good mix of consistent patient care and awesome surgery!

I didn’t know very much about orthopedics until the summer before I started medical school. I had a good idea of what happened in a surgical setting and being as much of a people-person as I am, I wondered if that part of surgery would deter me. Turns out, orthopedics does a pretty good job of blending nonsurgical, (somewhat) long-term care with in-depth and (sometimes) complex procedures. I would say its a good blend of both worlds, and I guess I’m into that even if it scares me.

Not all of this applies totally and wholly to the specialty orthopedic surgery, but I think it gives a pretty good representation of different types of medicines. Even if ortho doesn’t interested you, you’ve got to admit. It’s pretty cool.


50 Helpful Little Things To Know for Med School

Originally posted June 15th, 2015

  1. Never hang your stethoscope from your rear view mirror
  2. Also don’t hang your white coat in front of a car window
  3. ID badge is life, ID badge is love
  4. Keep a sweater with you somewhere, all the time
  5. Save the sleeves, watch out for “pens all over the place” syndrome
  6. Once the first person caves for the fancy pens, everyone else falls like dominoes
  7. Ascetically pleasing powerpoints are hard to come by
  8. There will be one rare disease your school harps on like everyone has it
  9. Most instructors care about you and your success
  10. And those who don’t are miserable already, don’t waste your time being upset about it
  11. Be nice to all faculty and staff even if they have no effect on your grades
  12. A 3-hole punch is a coveted prize for the binder dependent
  13. Movement is necessary, do it every once in a while
  14. Glove size matters
  15. Shoe covers have zero traction
  16. Real life things will just start smelling like anatomy lab
  17. Anatomy lab will always make you hungry no matter how much you eat
  18. Don’t be ashamed, if you think the anatomy lab smells to high hell, wear the mask
  19. No, you cannot use an animal otoscope on a person
  20. Yes, you can use a regular stethoscope on a little animal (be gentle!)
  21. It’s always better to touch too softly at first than to kill your partner
  22. Practice your poker face
  23. Being graded on empathy makes you less empathetic
  24. Most med students don’t have a ton of physical ailments, so practice on many classmates to get a feel for what is “normal”
  25. If something feels odd on your partner, ask your teacher for help before you scare the crap out of them
  26. There will be one disease/bug/drug that you will never be able to remember no matter how many times you look at it
  27. Many gunners will not realize they are gunners, don’t bother pointing it out
  28. If you get any legit equipment, it should be your stethoscope
  29. A reflex hammer is still a hammer
  30. Food is alternative currency
  31. Coffee runs are bonding time, even if you don’t drink coffee
  32. Be courteous and remember to remove a used K-cup
  33. You will not know when burnout will happen, but when it does, it’s too late
  34. It’s always better to be too covered up in professional wear
  35. There is no shame in walking around in your socks
  36. While it feels like high school, remember everyone is an adult
  37. Nice can be a relative term when it comes to medical students
  38. But some people will be completely fantastic
  39. If someone is doing something nice and they aren’t your fav, don’t be a dick
  40. For every horrible group you will work with there will be an amazing one
  41. It will take time, but you will find those who you mesh with
  42. It’s okay to decide someone is not a person you want to be close with
  43. Every term is impossibly hard to get yourself back into a solid study routine
  44. You will change study techniques 100 times even after you find one that works
  45. The difference is that you can adjust faster each time
  46. Break downs are the rule rather than the exception
  47. Success happens more often than you would think
  48. Even if it seems impossible, the grades, the specialty, the residency put in 110%, your best is never something to be ashamed of
  49. Do not do this if you aren’t 110% sure
  50. Continue to find love in it, you’ll only do it once