2018 Recap

Coming to the end of residency in 2019. Just realized this is the second blog post of the year. It has been a bit of a blur.

Humanities

The last year, really every since returning to residency from pat leave, has been a low point in terms of writing/art production. I set a goal way back of 6 pieces a year and this is the first time I’ve fallen short of that goal. 2017 was a big year, so they average out, but still, I miss creating. A short poem about goals was published by CMAJ Blogs and a single page comic about treatment/testing burden in Annals of Internal Medicine.

I also presented on Storytelling in Medicine at the 2018 FMF conference. This workshop was based off my involvement in the humanities along with an enrichment activity in Narrative Medicine.  It was fun to share a bit of my journey as a writer, narrative medicine theory, use of story, listening/processing/sharing of stories, along with covering ethical issues related to medical narratives.  It goes by other names, but I call the last point ‘narrative stewardship’. The talk included a writing activity, but I was given a room without tables, so that made it a bit more difficult.

Mentorship

I haven’t said much about it previously, but I’ve been involved in mentorship for a number of years. It started with mentoring inner-city youth that had interest in science/medicine during my graduate studies and has continued to the present.

I have four mentees at the moment. This two of the medical ones entered clerkship (M3) this year. Both are doing very well. One is looking to IM, the other surgery. The third in medicine is a M2 and undecided on his direction. The fourth mentee is an interesting story. We met five years ago at a mixer for undergrads interested in medicine. We exchanged numbers and followed up afterward. She was being pushed to do medicine by her family. We talked about her interests, goals, etc. I mentioned there were many ways to achieve those goals outside of medicine.  Turns out I was the first person ever to tell her she didn’t have to be a doctor. She has completed a double major and is thriving in the bio-med industry.

In terms of my mentors. One is quite ill and wrapping up many of their projects. It is sad to see, but I’m glad I had the chance to connect and learn from them. I speak regularly with the other and value their input as I transition from residency to practice.

Exams

One of the reasons for my lack of writing this year was a focus on two big exams. The MCCQE 2 in May and CCFP in October. These was significant stress around the first exam. A lot of time management considerations in the stations, especially on ones requiring history and physical. During the exam there is a clock in the room, but it was generally poorly positioned to track your time. I also walked in a bit flustered as there was a wind storm the night before the exam. We experienced a 16 hour power failure due to the storm, thus, my laptop and phone were dead for any last minute studying.  In the end it worked out.

The CCFP went smoothly. I put in time and used the standard resources, O’Toole’s Family Medicine Notes, Dr. Kirlew’s podcast, the FM Study Guide app out of Western, and the SAMP Prep app (no affiliation with any of them). With my graduation date, I wanted to make sure I would not need to write again as there would be a gap after graduation and before I could write again, so I also took The Review Course. In the end, one SOO was blah, but otherwise no issues on the SAMPS or SOOs. Glad I had friends to practice the oral stations with as it isn’t a standard office encounter. I needed the practice to learn the marking scheme and an approach to make sure all the boxes were checked.

Certifications

Looking to the future I decided that it would be best complete number of certifications before entering practice. This was another reason for the lack of creative output.  ACLS, ATLS, NRP, and PALS. Completed initial/re-certification in all of them this year.  I also did a POCUS course, though it unfortunately didn’t give certification. The exam fees along with these courses were a huge financial hit. Next up registering for my license (another nearly $3k), total is easily >$10,000 this year…

Rotations

I completed all my required rotations by October, so the rest of my training consists of electives/selectives. To round it out I’ve done electives in a community health center, pain medicine, palliative care, and in 2019 addiction medicine and finally PMR.

Looking forward

As for the future. Today I worked through the twenty page application for my independent license. It is hard to plan with arbitration underway and no contract for five years in this province (cancelled then restarted within the last week…). Hoping there might be some clarity by the time I finish.  Still deciding on the exact nature of my practice. I found pain medicine and palliative care of interest, perhaps some focus in those areas.  Lots to think about with a young family in this transition.

On the arts side looking for an editorial position. I’ve picked up a drawing tablet and am watching tutorials to try some digital art/maybe a web comic. With the exams behind me perhaps I’ll be able to reengage with the creative side in the coming year.

Reading/Movie List

Been a while since I posted a list. A few things over the last year.

Books:

  • Life Studies & The Union Dead – Lowell
  • Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Maté
  • Enchiridion & Moral Discourses – Epictitus

Movies/TV:

  • The Iron Giant
  • Cargo
  • Baki (Netflix)
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