page #4: work

October 6, 2010

welcome to the work page
i wasn’t sure what i was going to do with this space. talk about pediatric endocrinology? wax on about the immense challenges of work-life balance in today’s world? discuss my patients’ medical conditions? (← blatant HIPAA violation which could get me fired, so that one was out.)

i started perusing my own archives, and decided that i would just share my path through medical education and training as it happened to me. after all, i don’t really know any other way! often i will get emails asking whether or not a career in medicine makes sense, or whether i would do it again. it’s actually not a very easy question to answer — after all, i don’t exactly have other versions of my life to compare this one to!

so here goes my attempt to chronicle my career journey — what it really felt like at the time — through the archives of this blog. i realize that no one is probably going to want to click on ALL of the links, but perhaps various selections will add inject some real-time insight (and maybe a much needed laugh?) into the days of those contemplating a medical career.

i apologize for the lack of pictures — maybe one day i’ll add some. but for now i think i’ve spent long enough on this post, and i have (duh) work to do!

but wait! contrary to popular belief, i have not been blogging since birth. so i will just briefly mention that in 2001, as a single and rather intense college student, i decided to apply for an MD/PhD. i enjoyed my labwork, other science-y types that i had admired were dong it, so it seemed like the right choice to make at the time. i was 21 and wasn’t quite the visionary type. in fact, i really only thought about my life up to age 25 or so, and i seemed to really like school so a forever-education (that was conveniently paid for!) sounded like a great plan.

i wish i had written during the years that i spent in the classroom and on the wards (2002-2003) because in my mind now they exist mainly as gauzy fantasies: the hours studying (it wasn’t that bad . . . i think), the exams, my first pager, mean senior residents, my first overnight call. i know that meeting and falling in love with josh changed a lot about me and my life, and i think i basically grew up around that time (perhaps i’ve regressed since! just kidding).

budding clinician
in 2004 at the very end of my first clinical year, i began writing about my adventures, inspired by my friend vickie and the famous michelle au over at the underwear drawer. selections from this period:

✔ from outpatient pediatrics, 7/2004: one of the things i hated about being a medical student

✔ the annoyance of always feeling like a newb (a later post, but retrospective)

career banter, in which i discuss potential specialties recommended by a computerized survey

✔ random musings on USMLE prep

✔ evidence that my study skills/discipline have not always been top-notch

the lab years
plunked down in the middle of a bustling diabetes/metabolism lab with very little molecular biology experience under my belt was . . . interesting. but eventually i got used to it.

✔ aww, the early days

a day in the life

✔ celebrating small victories

✔ realizing that yes: science is hard.

change of heart
my decision to leave the PhD program in 2006 was painful but easy at the same time. i am not going to describe it better than the me-of-the-moment did, so here were my posts from that time:

quarterlife crisis

a more detailed analysis of the situation

the other sadness

and so it ends

transitioning back to the clinics/residency applications
i remember being so nervous at first, but then being immensely relieved that the clinics felt so much more ‘me’ than the lab. especially when there were kids involved!

reflections on my pediatrics sub-I

✔ the residency personal statement i would have submitted if i could: in outline form

✔ uh-oh, i’ve already started in on whining about the hours . . .

✔ conclusions: that pediatrics is good, call is bad. i still agree!

and now that’s just pitiful.

the residency years
yes, they were hectic and they were tiring. but there were bright spots nonetheless! i am really glad i have so many of my experiences from this time in writing to look back on.

pre-intern nightmares (yes, we all have them!)

the jitters continue

but it all turned out okay

✔ i began thinking about mindfulness and the zen approach to life as a resident (that doesn’t mean i was executing it!). it all seems to have started here

✔ the NICU as alien landscape (and the announcement that i was going to train for a marathon during intern year — i failed to run the race, but only due to an injury reared its ugly head during taper!)

daily life

gross things in clinic (though this was the grossest clinic encounter i can remember: EWWWWW)

✔ and then i guess i started getting a little (or a lot) tired, and then punchy (that intern year sure did seem to last a long time!)

call haikus and call math

✔ expressing my frustration that with all the busywork of being an intern, i didn’t feel like i was learning anything (um, in retrospect? i was.)

✔ various PICU-related posts: it was not my favorite. to say the least.

✔ entering ward seniorhood

✔ at the end: advice to new interns

obviously, this part is to-be-continued! some notable related posts:

acceptance to the program

✔ the answer to “so what does a pediatric endocrinologist actually do anyway?”

✔ on a slightly academic note: a short piece on growth hormone

✔ and i’m still working on that whole zen thing . . .

✔ the ups and down of home call

what’s in my bag: fellowship edition

whew!! i guess it’s been quite the journey. if you made it this far, thank you for reading. i can only imagine what new challenges future career posts will cover . . . because it doesn’t seem like life really ever gets any simpler. i suppose that’s just one more reason to just relax and try to enjoy it!


  • Reply Anonymous October 6, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    wow! going through all these posts is going to take me awhile but i'm really glad you wrote THIS one. i love reading about your medical provider history. it gives me a small peak of what could be in store for me 🙂

  • Reply Astrid October 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I had no idea that you stopped going for a phd. It must have been hard to leave that. I am facing the same decision right now, because I really don't have the drive or passion to finish up my research. Yes, I can make myself do it and I can make myself enjoy it, but it isn't what I love. I definitely feel like I will be disappointing many many people by doing this (just like you said). Thank you for sharing this. I love that I am not alone is have a midlife crisis in my mid 20's.

  • Reply atilla October 7, 2010 at 12:10 am

    thanks for sharing

  • Reply da October 7, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Thanks for posting this page with all of the links, Sarah. I look forward to re-reading them and re-reliving your past 🙂
    L, da

  • Reply qwerkyqook October 7, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Cool post. It will be fun to read all about your process. I loved the home call post. I have to do home call for neurology. Big thumbs down!

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