Sunday, October 27, 2013

At the Trailhead

I had so much fun last weekend Asheville. I visited a friend of mine from medical school. We hiked to Looking Glass Rock and took these photos. 

It felt like fall: leaves changing colors, cooler air, shorter days. It also signaled that my summer of away rotations was coming to an end. 

Monday I start on a different trailhead: the residency interview trail. I'll be flying out for my first interview of the season, literally a quick 30 hour stop. I'll be back in Atlanta to finish my last week at the CDC, then drive back across the country. The interview trail will begin in earnest then because I have several consecutive interviews.

Thank you for reading this blog.  I've had some kind of internet writing up since Xanga when I was in middle school. It's nice to have an audience!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Is Downton Abbey making a case for primary care? (or is it just me)

Downton Abbey

It's no secret on this blog that I will be a family physician, as I have said in previous blog entries here. It's not secret that I believe in primary care, as I have said here.

But now I'm bringing in my non-medical life to this blog: I wholeheartedly love Downton Abbey. I have shamelessly watched every episode at least once. Downton Abbey is about a British aristocratic family of a husband, wife, and their three daughters, and their servants set in the 1910s-1920s. They have a huge mansion in the British country side. 

I tell you this because this is relevant to my medical life! Downton Abbey shows that family doctors are important. Dr. Clarkson is the GP in the village where they live. There aren't other specialists in the village because, well, it's a village. 

I won't give away any plot points from season 3 but I will say that Dr. Clarkson's relationship with the family members was important to the care he provided. In one episode, a specialist was called in by the family to assess Sybil, another daughter. But this specialist hadn't known Sybil before whereas Dr. Clarkson had known the three daughters since they were girls. Because of this Dr. Clarkson picked up on a mental status change in Sybil, another daughter, when the specialist missed it. This missed sign led to a serious deterioration in Sybil's health. 

In the most recent episode of Downton Abbey last night, Dr. Clarkson mentioned that he was proposing to the hospital board to opening an out clinic. Don't worry, this is a minor plot point so I haven't given much away. 

Dr. Clarkson: I'm just on my way to convince the board of the merits of an out clinic so people can come early for treatment. 

I think "out clinic" meant an outpatient clinic for less-acute problems. Later Robert, the patriarch of the family, dismissed at the idea of the out clinic saying that it would make people go to the doctor more often than is necessary. Basically Robert's character is old-fashioned so it doesn't surprise me that he disagrees. 

Robert: Aren't we encouraging a nation of hypochondriacs if people rush to the doctor at every twinge? 
Isobel: On the contrary I think it encourages people to look after themselves, and not become a burden. 

There, I'm quite pleased to find common ground between primary care medicine and Downton Abbey! 

Dr. Clarkson

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Greetings from Atlanta

The non-essential staff at the CDC, including me, are at home because of the government shutdown. I'm supposed to be working in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention on a perinatal HIV transmission policies. It's really exciting stuff, though I've only been on the job for a week. So I've had a couple days off to be contemplative, or bored perhaps.

These past few months on away rotations I felt similar to when I studied abroad during my last year of college. The similarities is the constant stimulation of new experiences. There is always some new to do, a new restaurant to try, new people to meet. I'm in a new part of the country I had never been to before. I'm planning to go to a Korean Southern restaurant.

Today really felt like studying abroad because I had a Google Hangout with some classmates in Flint.When I was studying abroad I Skyped frequently with friends in the U.S. Today was actually for a med school committee I sit on, so it was for business. I've met other medical student doing this elective but it was nice to see some familiar faces of my classmates today.

Just like when I was in Denmark, I had so many new and exciting experiences but I also missed the familiarities of home. It's a bit wearing to always be navigating an unfamiliar city, always answering the same questions from new acquaintances. I never thought I'd say this but I kind of miss the Michigan fall. I find the climate here in Georgia strange.  It's literally 80-85 degrees here. It's October! I do a doubletake when I see Halloween merchandise in stores because it feels to me like summer.

I'm on my third and last away rotation of my fourth year. But I don't think I will feel like I'm home for some time. When my elective ends at the end of October, I will continue to travel. I'm planning to interview in November and December so I expect a lot of traveling, staying in hotels, and living out of suitcases yet. And still yet after that I will be living in a sublet apartment in Flint.

It had been and will be a nomadic year. Next summer I will have a place of my own, at an as-of-yet unknown city for residency. Maybe then I will feel like I am home.