Experience is the best teacher

Peds experience, my Shelf prep, and what’s next for me

6 weeks of Pediatrics blew by so fast! I learned so much and really put myself out there. Clinically, it was fantastic because I had a perfect blend of outpatient (2 weeks) and inpatient (2 weeks) experience along with nursery (1 week) and subspecialty (Heme-Onc, 1 week). Personally though, I’ve been feeling more unlike myself. Once inpatient started, I lost touch with just about everything. My days were on average from 6:30-5 and I’d be pretty pooped by the end and wanted to use the little energy I had to study for my Shelf exam*. I felt like I couldn’t even sacrifice the time to go to the gym, which is so unlike me! The gym clothes I kept in the car eventually got thrown to the back seat so I wouldn’t have to think about them lol. Eventually I hit a low point of true exhaustion, which was inevitable honestly with my level of sleep deprivation. I feel like because this was my first rotation and first Shelf exam, I just had to give it my all. And it’s in a primary care specialty (and I want to do PC) so I just wanted to shine. Even when I started newborn nursery I had so much more time on my hands, but I still spent it studying because at that point I was 2 weeks out from the Shelf and I was going to be in Miami the weekend before so I felt pressure to really grind it out to keep the study guilt away. And by the grace of God I made it through! And now I’m ready to start my OB-GYN rotation in rural Tifton, GA. I’ll get into more logistic detail of my Peds rotation at the end (and my Shelf prep!), really just for other med students who wanna know. I won’t be mad if you just scroll down to the end.

One highlight of Peds was in the nursery helping a mom breastfeed her newborn after I had spent some time with our lactation consultant. It was just really cool to translate those techniques I had learned to another mom. Another highlight was seeing a patient I took care of in outpatient my first week again in the Heme-onc clinic in my last week! It was actually the little girl I mentioned in my last post. A low point was getting pimped** on diabetes my first week on inpatient and not being able to come up with the answers. I felt so embarrassed because I remember it was something simple but I was just so nervous I couldn’t think, I could just stand there and sweat lol. I bounced back though so issok! Another notable moment that was a high and low was putting in an NG (nasogastric) tube in a kid. It was a cool “procedure” to do, but the kid was so miserable that I was pretty traumatized. I’ll probably never forget his screaming and the look from his parents like “wtf are y’all doing to my son.”


Finding balance in third year is so much different from first and second year. Whoever has the secret needs to let ya girl know because I’m still trying to figure it out! It’s so much easier when you just have 4 hours of lecture material to get through and you can control your schedule however you want. I was just a full time student. Now I feel like I have TWO full time jobs! I really love working with patients all day and not being in class; thinking about them gets me out of bed in the morning. And then I come home and everything shifts and it’s like I have to start my night job *eye rolling emoji*. But I will say that I definitely learned from my experience and will make a conscious effort this next rotation to be more balanced so I can be just as happy at home as I am at work. Actually, that in itself will be its own challenge because the house I’m going to be living in is basically from the 1800s (exaggerating, but its supposedly old and dingy). I’m just going down there with an open mind and my usual positive attitude and we’ll see how it goes. Luckily I have Verizon, so even though I’ll be in the middle of nowhere, at least I know I’ll have service! I’m excited though, to get out of my comfort zone and embrace a totally different setting than I’m used to. That’s really the reason I chose (yes I did this to myself) to go rural for a couple of my rotations.


Back to Peds though: I just wanted to break down the day-to-day and also my Shelf prep for other students with Peds in their future or wanting to compare (and also for me to refer back to later tbh). I started with outpatient, which ran just like any clinic. I worked with different preceptors each morning and afternoon, which had it’s pros and cons, both having to do with learning different styles and preferences. We saw patients ourselves and had to write the notes on each patient–again, pros and cons. It’s a great skill to learn, but you wanna also see more patients so you can learn more. Inpatient was rough with the 6:30am handoff from the night team. Afterwards you had a sliver of time to research any new admissions you picked up and go pre-round on your patients before morning report and rounds began soon after. The first week rounds took about 2-2.5 hours. The second week it was 3-3.5 hours just about everyday (comfortable shoes are a must!). We had different attendings each week, so more different styles. I probably learned the most shelf-wise from inpatient because of the exposure to so many complex patients. Newborn nursery was about the same–7am to research patients and do pre rounds. I became numb to babies crying once you un-swaddle them to do your exam. You also learn to be gentle with your language because moms don’t want to hear anything that sounds even remotely negative about their baby. Lastly, Heme-Onc clinic ran like outpatient primary care did. I saw patients on my own then with the attending. You learn a lot about chemotherapy regimens and anemias. There are sad cases and also really cool survivors stories too. One day I sat with my attending as she cried for one of her patients. It takes a special person to work with that population of kids. Overall though, it was a pretty dope experience.

I started Shelf studying on day 1 with Online Med Ed videos, which I created my own notes on, and a chunk of Pre-Test questions daily. There’s ~900 Qs to get through between PT and UWorld so I pushed myself to get through them all + my missed questions, which I was able to do. I added Q bank notes to the relevant OME sections. Once I started realizing what my weak areas were, I supplemented with those chapters in BRS. I originally wanted to read the whole BRS but for me that was just unrealistic. I’m a reader, but I need to read something multiple times, so I wouldn’t have fully benefited from reading that whole book, especially if I started in early in the rotation. You gotta know yourself. The notes I had by the end were pretty golden. I went through the Emma Holiday review twice in the week leading up to the shelf (one time was on a drive from Atl). In the end I definitely felt prepared going into the exam. A lot of questions still stumped me and threw me for a loop, which I expected from speaking to other 4th years, but I definitely did my best and really put my all into preparing, so we’ll see how it turns out!


Ok I’m done rambling now! Hopefully I figure this whole balance thing out soon so I don’t have this much time between posts. I’m still human though, still learning and growing, Experience is the best teacher..

Much love & thanks for supporting me. Next stop, Tifton!

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge

– Psalm 18:2

*National exam students take at the end of each rotation. At our school, we have to make a certain score cut off to be eligible for an A in the rotation.
**being asked questions on the spot

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