Surgery–A pleasant surprise!

I’ve just wrapped up the first four weeks of my 8 week surgery rotation. I spent this first half doing general surgery in Albany, GA which is a rural city in south Georgia. My preceptor ended up taking a week vacation during my time there, So I got to spend a week with a surgical oncologist (who operates on cancers) in the middle of doing general.

Going into surgery, I automatically expected myself to not like it. I never really saw myself in that light. Even during OBGYN, I wasn’t really gravitating to the surgical side of things. Plus, I already had pre-conceived notions/biases as to the personalities of surgeons and how they treated people who weren’t surgeons. I developed these over time mainly from tv (don’t judge me) what I heard about other student’s experiences. I don’t know any surgeons first-hand so that’s what happened. But man when I tell you everything I thought about surgeons was knocked down! I mean I even considered becoming a surgeon–seriously. The doctor I worked for is in private practice, which means he really has control over his hours and workload. His lifestyle was fantastic (besides being on call). He doesn’t work/barely works Fridays, and his family is his main priority. He even coaches his son’s baseball team! He was so humble and gave credit to God for everything he did for people. I was so impressed. Shocked, honestly.

Outside of all that, the patient interactions we had were very compassionate. He had patients he’s been seeing for years because of their complicated gastrointestinal diseases. He knew their families because they would choose him to operate on their loved ones. He had continuity that I thought I would only see in primary care. And then the whole idea of surgery began to appeal to me. That feeling of doing something for someone, deciding when and how to intervene in order to have the best outcomes. It was awesome, so I definitely contemplated my life a few times in the last weeks. In reality though, surgery doesn’t give me the level of patient care and continuity that I want to have, and the ratio of OR/clinic time was a bit much for me. Also, the physical demands of the specialty on my body are no joke. I need to put something in my mouth every 2-3 hours otherwise I get headaches. I felt myself actually getting upset after we’d be in the OR more than 3 hours because my back, neck, and/or feet were hurting. So, logistically, I know it’s not the specialty for me. However, it did make me realize that I want to be able to do procedures in my practice, so I will set my sights on more procedure heavy family medicine programs.

They always tell you to have an open mind when going into your different rotations because you never know how you’ll like things. I see why! I’ve so far loved surgery. Now, most of why I feel this was is because I went away to a off-camus site to do this rotation, so it was just me and my preceptor–no cranky residents. Now that I’m back in Augusta, I’ll be on the orthopedics and trauma services over the next 4 weeks at the main hospital. I suspect that my current sentiments may change as I re-enter the hierarchy of the teaching hospital. But regardless, I’m keeping an open mind and hopefully will find more things to enjoy in the specialty.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

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Learning things the hard way

I spent this weekend in Miami visiting my boyfriend. But the journey getting there was full of L’s (losses)! I felt like I just couldn’t catch a break. After a series of unfortunate events, I missed my original flight and spent the next few hours trecking all over the airport trying to find another flight out. My airline didn’t have any other flights for the night so I was checking with other airlines. I’ve never missed a flight before so I felt like such a failure, like really irresponsible. And of course I’m thinking about study time lost while I’m getting my cardio in for the day/week. After many rejections and more money spent I finally reached my destination 6 hours later. I will never miss another flight in my life I’ll tell you that much.

And THEN on the way back, nobody told me that if you don’t fly on your airline out, they don’t save your return flight. So when I got to the airport for my return flight at 9am, I found that out the hard way. So I had to get yet another flight, but they still put me on standby for that flight. I was one person away from making standby -_-. Thankfully, Leslie hadn’t left the airport yet (he was taking a nap) and was able to pick me back up with no issue. Ended up leaving on a 5pm flight. I enjoyed the extra time but since I was now eating into my Sunday work day, I had to spend much of it studying. So, this weekend ended up being a heck of a lot more expensive than planned, but still worth every penny.


I took a lesson from it all though, which is why I decided to write about it instead of suppress my misfortune. You simply cannot plan everything out to the T, that’s not how life works. And when things don’t go as planned, it’s all about your attitude and how you respond that makes the difference. At first I was so frustrated and teary-eyed but I had to pull myself together and remind myself that I couldn’t change my circumstances; I just had to keep it moving with the current situation. Dwelling on the past would do nothing for me. I tried as best I could to keep my thoughts positive (emphasis on try). When you’re already in a tough spot, negativity will only add fuel to the flames that are consuming you. I’ve learned these lessons before, but I was definitely reminded of them this weekend.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. -Proverbs

Praise God for journey mercies though because I made it back in town safely. I’m 10 days out from my shelf exam for Family Medicine and currently not feeling very comfortable with the material, so please extend your prayers to me and my brain!

Have a wonderful week!

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Confronting Failure

New school year brings new challenges.. discussion about failure and coping with it

This post was inspired by the handful of people who’ve reached out to me about their struggles to adapt to the new demands placed on them in a new academic year. I’m sure there are many others in the same boat. For most people the new year is just starting to take off. If you’re a pre-med/pre-health in general, you’re feeling pressure to perform well this year to stay competitive. If you’re a first year professional student, you’ve probably been hit by an 18-wheeler and just trying to pick up the pieces of your life. As a second year, the dark cloud of STEP1 or other board equivalents are starting to encroach, all the while you’re trying to hold leadership and get ready for the tests that are right in front of you. Every year brings on it’s own individual stresses, pressures, and challenges. But also more laughs and memories, deeper understanding, and further mastery of a craft. Each year is a new balancing act, and it can be hard in the beginning to get your footing just right–naturally.

We each give our own meaning to the word failure, but either way it goes it cuts deep, and many times we let it negatievly affect our attitude and actions following. We turn against ourselves, bashing all of the work we put in, interrogating inwardly in attempt to discover the root of the issue. You’re such an idiot is my personal favorite line for myself when I encounter failure. I used to ask myself where did I go wrong? Failure really is a tough pill to swallow, especially for people going into healthcare, as we’re held to a higher academic standard and everything is about being “competitive.” We’re conditioned to place so much of our value in our GPAs and when something threatens to tarnish that, it hurts.

In college I would call my dad when I didn’t do well on an test and he (in true Nigerian fashion) wouldn’t even sympathize with me or validate any of my feelings. He would ask Did you do your best? and once I said yes, he’d say, Then it’s ok, you can’t ask for more from yourself and you can’t change anything now. All you can do it learn and move on. Oddly, his stern message actually would make me feel better; I would feel almost stupid for beating myself up. His message never changed no matter how many times I called him, even in medical school. Of course, I’d also call my parents with good news too, so they knew my potential. With time, I’ve matured enough that I can have that conversation with myself. Every once in a while though, I’d convince myself that my best wasn’t enough, that I could have done more. I know there are other people who do the same. It is such a drain of energy living in the past and present at the same time. When I would tell my sister about it, she would tell me This isn’t the last time you’re going to get grades like that, you’re not always going to excel, so you shouldn’t spend your energy dwelling on it. It’s one test. My family is very straight-to-the-point if you haven’t figured lol.

But I got mentally tougher! And I’ll tell you what I learned that helped me cope with failure. We were not designed to succeed in everything we do. Otherwise we would never have mistakes to learn from, never have obstacles to make us stronger/wiser. It’s only scary because we don’t know when we’re going to fail. And there are many times when it feels like we simply can’t afford to fail. But God knows when we will prevail and when we will fall short. And He has planted people in our lives for us to turn to in either case. When I decided to put my trust in Him, the fear of failure began to wash away. I knew either way that I would be OK, because that is part of His promise to me. With each failure, we become mentally stronger, more resilient, more determined–if we choose to. We can choose to become consumed by our pitfalls or we can choose to thank God for them, learn from the experience, and become better students, clinicians, and leaders. It has taken a lot of growth for me to be able to say, “You gave it your all Ijeoma, you just weren’t meant to make an A this time. But you know what, you’re gonna bounce back and kill it next time.” I’ve become a better student student because of that. It’s all about your mentality, which you (and only you) have the power to control.

I hope this post inspires someone who feels like their school year got off on the wrong foot. I’ve definitely been there, and you are not alone!

When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realize that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives.” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam