We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This

And by this, I mean every six months.

But then again, we’ve never lived through a global pandemic for months on end while trying to still live our lives, so I hope you’ll forgive me.

Since I was last here, a lot has happened. I moved back to Miami to start my third year of medical school and after months sitting at home studying for Step 1 (so long, farewell forever!), I was finally able to be in the hospital seeing patients! I started with 10 weeks of internal medicine and hopped between two general inpatient rotations, outpatient primary care, hepatology (liver) clinic, and the cardiology inpatient service. I learned the bread and butter of medicine during those 10 weeks — heart failure, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, infectious disease, liver failure…you name it, I probably saw at least one patient with it. The shift from learning for a multiple choice test to applying it to real patients was a struggle. One minute you have to pick the correct anti-hypertensive for your fake vignette patient, the next it’s a real patient with financial concerns, comorbidities, and a history of medication side effects. All in all, I am happy I started my year off with internal medicine. It offered such a breadth of experiences caring for patients admitted to the hospital, patients needing clinic follow-up for chronic conditions, or specialty care. It set me up perfectly for my next rotation, family medicine.

Now, I had no ordinary family medicine rotation. No. I was able to spend my five weeks of family medicine in the Florida Keys, living on Islamorada (stunning!) and working at a clinic in Key Largo. I lived with two other classmates and enjoyed the natural beauty and delicious food the Keys has to offer. I had an even more unique experience on my family medicine rotation than just being in the Keys because I was placed at an urgent care clinic that also offered routine primary care. I was able to see chronic disease management (a hallmark of family medicine), acute illness, and quite a few injuries including a shark bite! Doesn’t get more Keys than that! I was able to hone my antibiotic selection skills, work on my otoscope technique to peer into some ears, and brush up on my exam skills for joint and back pain. Family medicine really does see it all – adults and kids, acute and chronic, men and women, and they even perform procedures!

And when I finished clinic for the day, I made sure to sample as much food as I could. If you ever get down to the Keys, you have to stop at the Tacos Jalisco taco truck and Key Largo Chocolates on Key Largo. A little further south on Tavernier is Cafe Moka (with another location in Islamorada) and Blonde Giraffe for Key Lime Pie. Down on Islamorada, you’ll find Marker 88, Bad Boy Burrito, Lorelei’s (perfect for a sunset cocktail!), Bayside Gourmet, Islamorada Brewery & Distillery, Bob’s Bunz (the cinnamon bunz are a MUST), and the Shrimp Shack. I could go on and on, but maybe that means I should do a little Keys roundup with my favorite places. I’ve got quite a few in Key West too!

Yeah, I 100% took a portrait mode picture of my burrito. It was that good.

Thats brings us almost back to today. I’ve been on my psychiatry rotation for the last two and a half weeks, which were spent on our child and adolescent inpatient psychiatry team. It’s been a hard but very rewarding rotation so far. To see children and teens struggle with mental illness necessitating inpatient hospitalization was emotionally challenging and I came home each day pretty drained. Tomorrow I start on a new inpatient psychiatry team at the VA hospital with adult patients.

Now, beyond school, things have been status quo for the most part. I feel immensely lucky that I have had someplace meaningful to go each day for the past few months and have had access to adequate PPE to keep me (and my patients and colleagues) safe. But I won’t lie that I haven’t had moments of immense sadness, anxiety, inattention, and a desire to just get a crystal ball and see the future. When the election was called for President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris (I still get goosebumps writing that..), I felt like a 50 pound weight that had been sitting on my chest for four years had been lifted. It didn’t mean things would improve overnight – we will never get back the quarter of a MILLION lives lost to this pandemic and the millions more who have fallen ill with unknown future health consequences – but I was able to sleep soundly for the first time in a long time.

Did my civic duty, boy did it feel good.

I finally have some creative juices again and for the time being, an actual desire to write and share. It feels cathartic. I have a lot of post ideas, not all of which are related to health policy or medical school, although I will keep sharing about those topics. For those of you who made it this far and who stuck around during my absence, thank you! Honestly I have no idea if anyone ever reads these, but that’s okay, it feels good to just get these thoughts out of my brain. If there’s anything health policy or medical school related (or really anything else!) you want to know about, drop a comment!

I hope you have found your own ways to quiet the constant noise and stress. And please, please – keep wearing a mask and social distancing. It’s really the least we can do.

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