Monday, June 29, 2015

On the Eve of Residency

On March 15, I was hired as a doctor. Sort of.

March 15 was Match Day. I walked up to a stage (to a mandatory 30 seconds of music that I had to buy; I picked "Son of Man," by Phil Collins) and picked up an A6 manila envelope. I opened it, with all other medical students nationwide, at noon and discovered where I will spend the next four years learning to take care of patients. To my great joy, it was my first choice: my discernment had been correct, and God chose what I'd chosen. I left the Match Day ceremony early (before I even pinned my picture over my new home) and went to Mass with my mother. I spent thirty minutes after Mass in deep happiness in front of the tabernacle, thinking of how good God is and how much He loves us. He had loved me into a program that had everything I wanted, and (so I've already discovered) far more than I knew. I'd signed a contract as a physician. So I was hired as a doctor, sort of.

On May 9, I became a doctor. Sort of.

May 9 was graduation. I walked across another stage in a tam and robes with green chevrons. (As a TACer or maybe just because I like "distinctive dress," I appreciate the meaning of regalia and feel honored and dignified in it.) It was deeply satisfying to accept my diploma and attain the goal I had hoped for, however vaguely, since I was four. I remarked to my father that I enjoyed this graduation more than my TAC graduation, because I did not understand what the last year of TAC was for, but I had understood my medical education. Medical education is an imperfect but powerful experience, and I'd completed it. Sort of.

On June 16, I started my new job as a doctor. Sort of.

June 16 saw the beginning of orientation. I'd moved in the day before, after a day-long drive to my new state, and a week-long retreat in solitude (final preparation for the consecration). I didn't have a stick of furniture, apart from my kneeler. I had to borrow the next month's rent from my parents. During orientation I scrambled in my new city to find Masses, grocery stores, gas stations, post offices, employee health clinics, pharmacies, train stations, and a dozen conference rooms in two hospitals. I ostensibly learned how to operate a new electronic health record, how to meet the expectations of me are on each rotation, how to resucitate patients during codes, how to do obstetrical procedures, and how to triage women who present to the hospital. So I was ready to act like a doctor, sort of.

On July 1, I will actually be a doctor. (Sort of.)

I will be one of the thousands of "interns," first-year physicians who are still learning the ropes of patient care. I will be rounding on antepartum and postpartum, and signing prescriptions. I'll work the night shifts over the holiday and I'll evaluate and manage (and maybe deliver) patients. During the rest of July I will be learning to perform ultrasounds, and in August I'll be working nights as one of the four awake OB/GYNs in the hospital. September, I'll be on labor and delivery during the days; October, I'll be working full-time in the resident clinic (30ish patients per half-day, NBD). November and December will be more time in labor and delivery, and some time in the OR for gynecology. And in 2016, we'll repeat those six months over again. By the end of it, I hope that I will have actually been someone's doctor. (There will be lots and lots of help to get me to that end-point, which is why I tacked on "sort of" again.)

Right now, I'm afraid. I'm excited to see patients and manage them, but that excitement is proportional to my confidence that this will be easy (i.e. that I have knowledge in my head about what to do when I see them). My confidence is quite low, so my excitement is very small. Instead, since I hear all these comments about how July is hard and interns start out slow, I'm very scared!

I'm trying to remember that God loves me, that slowness in the first few months of residency doesn't matter in the grand scheme of becoming a saint. That even if I am embarrassed and am the last resident in the class (which I may be; these people are all SUUUUUPER qualified and have advanced degrees and research and children), if I remain with Jesus throughout each day, it doesn't matter.

But prayers will be appreciated, because on Wednesday I'll be an intern. I am excited to begin this new chapter, but I need God's help to stay peaceful, more than I need my upper-levels' help to be a better intern.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dreams for a Catholic hospital

This is not exactly the heyday of Catholic healthcare. Then again, it wasn't exactly popular to set up hospitals in the days of St. Basil, either. So, ignoring the largely ambivalent-at-best atmosphere for Catholic hospitals, I have been dreaming of starting a truly Catholic hospital since college. I've been jotting down ideas for eight years.

The first thing I wanted, oddly enough, were placards with quotes from saints and Scripture on suffering. These would hang opposite each patient bed in every room, accompanied by crucifixes, and routinely changed. The hospital and have semi-private rooms for companionship with others, which is important in illness. (Of course, the hospital would also have private rooms, which are necessary in certain circumstances.)

The hospital would need a dedicated staff of the nurses, but also some employees who would spend time with patients, escorting them at the end of life or accompanying them on the way of the cross. For this purpose, I wasn't sure who I would hire. Volunteers? Nuns? Retired people? I'm still not sure. But I wanted someone to spend time with the sick. I thought about a renewal of Catholic religious sisters. The Sisters of Mercy, the Ursulines.... This kind of project cries out to be done, and it cries out for consecrated people. Who will do it?

I would look for doctors who know the purpose of their art: pro-life, and pro-family. I would look for pharmacists who would treat people as persons.  I would look for chaplains who would celebrate daily Mass in a prominent chapel and visit, visit, visit patients.

In college, I sort of wanted to be the person who would "do it" but I didn't think it would be me, and I didn't seriously want to do all that. I prayed that God would send an instrument, like he sent St. Pio to Italy. (When I heard all the work that Jere Palazzo had to do to try a similar facility in Kentucky, I was sure that this was out of my league.)

Now, I am not so sure. I am afraid that one of these "instruments" I prayed for, is me. I may be one of multiple instruments, but I am less and less able to escape the feeling that I should start something crazy, even while healthcare is falling to pieces and religion is intolerable.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

List of NFP-Friendly OB/GYN Programs

This list is a composite of a list created in 2008 and updated in 2015. It reflects word of mouth from applicants and interviewees and does not represent program directors' opinions or desires. Not all programs on this list are equally enthusiastic, and not all programs listed here may have been honest with the applicants who passed on the word about them. Disclaimer: this list doesn't exempt you from talking to people and using good judgement at interviews!

In no particular order:

  • MedStar/Washington Hospital Center (Washington, D.C.; has absorbed previously recommended Georgetown)
  • Exempla St. Joseph (Denver, Colorado)
  • Phoenix Integrated Residency (Phoenix, Arizona)
  • St. Louis University (St. Louis, Missouri)
  • Mercy Hospital (St. Louis, Missouri)
  • Presence St. Joseph (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Presence St. Francis (Evanton, Illinois)
  • University of Illinois College of Medicine (Peoria, Illinois)
  • Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
  • St. Joseph's Mercy (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
  • Loma Linda University (Loma Linda, California)
  • Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas, Texas)
  • Methodist (Dallas, Texas)
  • Methodist (Houston, Texas; has absorbed previously recommended St. Joseph's)
  • Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas)
  • Memorial Hermann (Houston, Texas)
  • Texas A&M University/Scott and White (Temple, Texas)
  • University of Texas Southwestern (Austin, Texas)
  • SUNY, Sisters of Charity (Buffalo, New York)
  • Florida State University (Pensacola, Florida)
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
  • St. Francis Care (Hartford, Connecticut)
  • Creighton University School of Medicine (Omaha, Nebraska)
  • Tulane School of Medicine (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  • Wright State College of Medicine (Dayton, Ohio)
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cheap posts while I move

Continuing with the theme of fake posts of old material I'm digging up while I'm moving, here are some notes I took when I talked with a college friend about medicine.
We were talking about souls...then turned to the "reality" (heavy quotation marks) of this world. It has a purpose and it has beauty, to lead us to God. And there is no greater beauty than man, the only "very good" among all the "good." Man's beauty is in his soul, but also in his body. So, medicine! An exciting profession, to deal with the greatest beauty of physical creation.
On a related note, I remember once praying in the beautiful chapel at TAC and watching one of the sacristan a clean the floors. I was a little jealous. I was a librarian, but I wanted to be a sacristan. Then I realized that, since human bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, I would be a sacristan for the rest of my life.