My Cardiology Elective experience in Halifax, NS

August 18 to September 12, 2014

After my Geriatric Medicine experience in Nanaimo, BC, I continued my medical elective adventure with 4 weeks of Cardiology in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I will be forever grateful to Matt (Mike’s best friend) and his wife Laura for allowing me to stay with them and their daughter Isabelle during my 4 weeks in Halifax – thank you so much again guys!

I chose to do Cardiology because I wanted to become more confident as it has never been my forte and is so important within any medical specialty. I was lucky to be allocated to the Inpatient Cardiology Consult Service for my elective, which is a team who oversees all cardiology referrals for inpatients at the QEII and a number of other sites including Victoria General, Rehab, Veteran’s Memorial, and Abbie J Lane. It was a great opportunity to see lots of patient presentations, visit different hospital sites, and interact with numerous staff.

The consult service team consisted of a staff member (cardiology consultant) who rotated every 2 weeks and a resident (registrar). As you can imagine, it’s a pretty small team to take care of all inpatient cardiology referrals across numerous sites. There were some rare slow days, but most were extremely busy with continuous consults and follow ups.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on consult service! My responsibilities included: seeing new consults (full history and exam) and presenting them to the team including an impression and appropriate plans, communicating with treating teams and multidisciplinary team members, administrative work (writing notes, filling forms and orders), following up with investigations and plans, etc.

I had the opportunity to work alongside the same resident (4th yr anaesthesia) during the entirety of my 4 weeks, which was great. He was smart, friendly, and always willing to teach and provide guidance. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed the experience nearly as much if not for him. I also had the chance to meet and work with 3 wonderful cardiology consultants – each with their own style and method of teaching and all of whom provided really positive feedback on my performance. They also offered to help me out in any way I needed (including being a reference), without me asking, thank you so much! 🙂 I worked as hard as I could, which was appreciated and validated, yay! Not to mention all the wonderful patients and other staff members I met and learned from throughout the 4 weeks. Heart failure, arrhythmias, myocardial infarctions, endocarditis, pericardial effusion/tamponade, etc.

Thank you to all the people I met and worked with, who were so patient with me and taught me so much! I hope to have the opportunity to see and work alongside you again. 🙂

Mental Health: What’s the deal?

Wow,

I am terribly behind with my regular blogging! 😦 There’s no excuse, but it’s been busy and blogging about our recent vacation took a lot longer than usual.

So what’s the deal with school now?

Well, I’m 5 weeks into my Mental Health rotation, and yes, I’m quite enjoying it! By random luck (or is it bad luck? Haha), both Mike and I got placed as the only 2 students at a private mental health hospital in Brisbane.

The experience so far has been very enlightening. We found it initially daunting and awkward learning to take a psychiatric history from patients and formulating our thoughts. The feeling is quite similar to being in first year again, learning how to take a medical history and talk to patients. Fortunately, we’ve gained a lot more confidence in the last few weeks. Taking a medical history is like second nature to us now, hopefully taking a psychiatric history will, in time, feel the same.

We are humbled and grateful every time a patient agrees to talk to us or allows us to sit in during a consultation. If you think about it, these people are sharing with us, complete (not yet qualified) strangers, the most personal aspects of their lives. Some people have been victims of sexual and/or physical abuse, others have gone through great losses, some struggle with their spouses having affairs, while others have thoughts of self harm and have even tried to kill themselves. Every single patient we’ve met has taught us something, in some way, that we could never learn from a textbook.

Every patient we’ve met has a different story and is fighting a different battle. One of the first and biggest challenges for us has been, “How do we talk to these patients? How do we approach sensitive topics in a way that will not be upsetting?” We quickly learned that despite all the differences, these patients are all still the same in one way: Like you and I, they are people too.

Talking to patients with mental illness or a difficult life/past can be hard. But it’s not necessary to over-think how to talk to them. As long as you are patient, empathic and a listener, most people will be more than happy to talk to you and share their stories with you.

We also get scheduled teaching time with 3-4 consultants every week, which has been great. They have all been great teachers and we’ve learned so much already! Not just in terms of knowledge aspect, but also plenty of real life stories and experiences – something you can never learn from reading a book.

Have I mentioned we have a great Registrar? Yes, thank goodness! Most of our day is spent with him and the patients. He’s pretty awesome with them and definitely a good role model to try and emulate. As one of our profs said, “Shamelessly steal!” Adapt the styles, sayings and techniques from your seniors and colleagues that can make you a better doctor!

The most scary aspect of Mental Health at this moment? The fact that we are approaching the end of Week 5… only 2 more weeks until final exams. Absolutely crazy. It’s insane how quickly time has gone by!

Congratulations Little Sister!

Big congratulations to my little sister, Jenni, for being accepted into grad school!

She applied to the Master of Occupational Therapy program at 5 schools in Canada and was accepted to every one… so proud!

Come September, she will be a Thunderbird at her first choice school – University of British Columbia!

And of course, Mike and I will now be stopping over in Vancouver to visit her on the way back home this year 😛

What I’m most excited about, is after years of nagging her to have a blog of her own, and not including her humorous blog (Ain’t Nobody Got Time For This) with our cousin Janet, she finally has one! Please visit Thunderbird Time to follow her adventures in becoming an OT student and eventually an OT!

Our mom is probably already sad that our family home will soon be further dwindling down, from an original 5 to 2 – but hopefully this blog will help keep her connected to everyone back home 🙂

Believe it: I’m officially half a doctor! Yay!

Over a week since my results of second semester were supposed to be officially released and I have finally received mine. The wait has been agonizing!

I’m so happy to say that I passed, with my best semester yet, yay! 🙂 That makes me 1/2 a doctor! Haha

So happy to finally know with a certainty I passed, especially before going on my trip to Halifax 🙂

Oh, I haven’t mentioned that? I know 😛 But I’m going to Halifax (in a few hours) today for a week and will be back next Tuesday. I’ll be meeting Michael there and we shall frolic on the East coast. I have no idea what the plans are yet, but I will make record of what we do so that I can document it on my blog of course!

But for now, time for breakfast and a shower before heading to the airport! 😉

Have a great day everyone!

Photo #241: Last PBL Ever

October 26, 2012

Today was our last PBL session… ever! How quickly did this year fly by? I’m really happy to have been a part of such a wonderful group of people. You guys have taught me so much and made me laugh even more! Thanks Christine, Yoni, Roger, Chen, Alex, Jasmine, Joseph, Randol, Josiah, and Drew (our tutor)! All the best on your final exams!

Photo #233: USMLE… sigh.

October 18, 2012

Tonight, I made the decision to write the USMLE Step 1… hooray… sad face. 😦 Finally took a serious look at the First Aid book I bought last year and a part of me died inside. There is a lot of material to know. I should’ve decided to write this earlier. Why am I doing this to myself? Oh wait, I should already know all of this stuff… it’s the thought of having to remember everything inside out that makes me cry. At least I can now say I’m not closing a door to my future!