What you need to know about the OBGYN rotation

My pearls to help you be successful on the OBGYN clerkship & Shelf exam

Day 1: Approach the OBGYN physician with caution

 black woman GIF

Most docs in the OB field are generalized to be “catty”, which of course isn’t true everywhere. But if you think about it—the long hours, being on call, constantly feeling like you’re on demand–you can imagine how that can wear on your attitude some days. So, careful as you come in with your beaming smile and radiant energy because you may not be met with the same thing. You’re likely coming off of a full nights sleep while your doc or resident was on call last night. So, use your social cues and gage the situation. Look for ways to help your people out or help the staff to do anything that makes the day run smoother. The staff will love you, and your attending will notice how much they love you.

It’s not all about the deliveries!

The first thing people say to me when I tell them I’m on OBGYN is so you’re delivering lots of babies huh? Of course delivering babies is a big part of the field (especially financially), but as a student if you go into the rotation thinking you’re only going to be popping babies out left and right, you’ll be highly disappointed. And there is so much to learn in those 12-24 hours leading up to the delivery–managing the patients labor, tracking the rate of cervical dilations, monitoring the status of the fetus, making sure mom is comfortable and gets her epidural on time, etc. The birth itself is a bloody climax to it all. So whenever you spend your time on L&D, I advise you to work closely with & learn from the nurses (or possibly junior residents) who are likely the ones keeping a close eye on everything. In my experience working in a smaller town, the nurses manage the patients all the way until about 60 seconds before the baby is ready to see the world. So I really gained a TON of knowledge and clinical experience by following patients with the nurses, much of which helped me on the Shelf exam. And to answer the question, yes I caught my fair share of babies.

You need to know ASEPSIS

 idiot sandwich insult gordon ramsey idiot sandwich GIF

OBGYN is a surgical specialty and you spend quite a bit of your time in the operating room (at least I did). Pay special attention to your ASEPSIS training and if you aren’t getting it right before the rotation, watch some YouTube videos to help you refresh. Save yourself the embarrassment & potential scolding depending on where you rotate. I think the most common way you’d mess up (from personal experience and from what I’ve been told) is moving the surgical light with your sterile hands, so be extra careful there. Luckily I rotated at a site where the staff and doctors were chill and didn’t take pleasure in making med students cry, so when I messed up it wasn’t the end of the world.

On surgery days, learn as much about the patients as possible

Watching/assisting with procedures is awesome, but unfortunately won’t get you very far in the numbers game as a third year medical student. Take time to read each patients chart before the surgery in order to understand how they got to this point. Then go ask them questions if you can before they get all doped up. How old are they? What were their major symptoms? What things did they try before hand? If you’re doing an operative laparoscopy (op-lap), think about some things you might see based on the patients symptoms. Especially cases like dilation & curettages, LEEP and cone biopsies–learning about the patients getting these procedures can help you in your studies when a clinical vignette is asking you about the infamous “next step in management.”

SHELF advice–The name of the game is management and risk factors

What is the diagnosis? What is the next step in management? What is the greatest risk factor for this patients condition? are a few of the most common question stems you will encounter in your shelf prep. So start early nailing these things down as you study different conditions. If I could go back, I would have kept a few sheets of paper where I drew out flow charts for the management of different conditions. It gets so confusing when you follow different protocol based on age or weeks gestation or stage of cancer or grade of lesion. I found myself second guessing a lot of those types of things, even on my exam.

 math study learning exam studying GIFThe resources I used were the Beckman’s textbook, Online MedEd, UWise, UWorld, PreTest, and I read some of Case Files in the last weeks. Each of those resources were solid, but honestly PreTest really wasn’t doing it for me like it did during Pediatrics. Like in Peds, I watched all of the OME videos up front and took digital notes on them as my foundation. As I did questions and learned more, I added those notes into the structure I already had. Our school had a reading schedule for us to get through the Beckman’s text along with the associated APGO YouTube videos and UWise quizzes. I was able to keep up with that consistently. I did PreTest in the first 3 weeks by waking up early in the morning or doing questions at night when I finished the readings and Uwise. But like I sad, it’s really not something to be pressed about. I did UWorld in the 4th and 5th week and did NBMEs/UWise comprehensive exams in the last week. Lastly, you want to always have something on you to study at all times. There is down time on L&D and in between surgeries that you can use to get some of your work done, especially if you have long hours.

Nearing the end of the rotation, I had this unsettling feeling in me that no matter how much I studied, I would still be iffy on those management questions. I just felt like there was no way for me to just memorize it all (I’m horrible at memorizing things if you didn’t know). I could only really remember the things that related to patients that I worked with. That’s why I said if I could go back I’d have created something as I went and used that to review/memorize in crunch time. But hey, I did my best, which is all I can ask of myself, so we’ll see how those results come out!


I hope this is helpful to someone. If you’ve been through it and have other things to add about OBGYN, feel free to drop them in the comments!

Also, S U B S C R I B E !

Done with boards and on to the wards!

Pediatrics rotation off to a good start!

IMG_6664

Week one (well, the three days that it was) in the wards is under my belt! I’m in Pediatrics now, and I’m just loving all the babies and kids because they’re so cute–even when they’re sick lol. It’s summer time and I’m on out-patient service right now so I’m doing my fair share of regular check ups and have seen a lot of bread and butter Peds diagnoses. No crazy genetic abnormalities have come my way yet. What’s funny is that I see the patients before the doctor does, so the parents ask me all these questions about how their kid is doing and if they’re doing the right things as parents and in my head I’m like you really don’t want me to be answering your questions. But between social smiles, rolling over, and pincer grasps, I’m slowly building my knowledge of baby milestones and the do’s and don’t’s of parenting. The only semi-embarrassing thing that’s happened to me was when I was trying to look in this kids ear and the stupid plastic tip thing kept falling off! It took me like 3 times to get it to twist on right and me and the patients mom just started laughing. But that’s just the kind of stuff I’d expect to happen to me lol. I’ve also gotten lost in the hospital like 5 times before I finally figured out where the heck I was going. Now I have my one route in and one route out and I’m sticking to them.

The days go by so fast and I don’t even feel like I’m working half the time! But I’m constantly being evaluated, so I have to show face at all times because I never want to look like I’m just going through the motions. I’m realizing what people were talking about before when they would talk about the hospital hierarchy of attendings, residents, everyone else, and then med students at the bottom lol. But I definitely know my place, and just keep it pushing when my patients get taken away from me #notbitter. All in all I love pediatrics and I mean I know it’s only 3 days in, but it’s definitely got a place on my career differential. I saw this 2 year old girl on Friday and she just loved me so much that she started crying as I left the room, I was so touched! And I also get a lot of encouragement from the minority parents I work with. They love seeing a young black woman in a white coat. I feel like I’m automatically a role model for their kids.

The worst part of my days is when I come home and have to study and do questions for the rest of the night. I literally feel like I’m studying for STEP again. I have a new schedule, a journal for questions, videos to watch, etc. Like it never ends!!!! That’s the only depressing thing, just realizing that this is how my life is going to be until 4th year. They don’t tell you this stuff before you decide to do medicine. But I’m in too deep now, so oh well, just gotta keep grinding! It’ll all be worth it. Honestly I really am blessed to be where I’m at.

Also side note, my white coat weighs like 10 pounds! I keep a foldable clipboard, stethoscope, pens, chap stick (major key), and 3 granola/protein bars in my secret inside pocket haha (another major key). Look, I’m not about to play myself or get caught slippin’! Trust and believe that.

So I have one more week of out-patient, then I start in-patient service where I have to report at 6:30am *upside down smiley face emoji* so we’ll see if this happy-go-lucky attitude holds up! I’ll keep y’all posted on life in the hospital! Wishing everyone a wonderful week.

‘Twas the night before STEP1

6 weeks of work all for 8 hours!

So I guess this is the moment I’ve been preparing for for the past 6 weeks, 600-700 hours of studying…it’s all coming down to an 8 hours exam tomorrow. It’s hard to really put into words how I feel, but I can say most importantly that I feel confident in my preparation. I have honestly done everything in my power to prepare for this exam, and I’m just ready to see all of my hard work mixed with God’s power manifest. And I’m ready to have my life back!!! Geez, I feel like I don’t even know what it’s like to be normal anymore! I don’t know anything that’s happening in the world, and frankly I’m just tired of looking dusty all the time. I’m done being a caterpillar, ready to emerge as a butterfly!

Super Deluxe dancing happy dance joanne the scammer scammer GIF

In retrospect, a part of me wants to say that this intense study period wasn’t really that bad, but then I might be lying. Because a good chunk of the time I felt like:

 meme running memes crime joanne GIF

I will say that it went by faster than I thought it would. I feel like it was just May 1st when all of this madness started. Maybe its just the routine of it all, because now it all feels like a blur. My only vivid memories are of times spent with friends and on my few days off, everything else is pretty nonexistent (AKA Repression, for my fellow medical students lol). All of the information is still there of course, but the day-to-day acquirement of it all–that’s gone.

At this point I have given all pressure, anxiety, and nervousness to God and in exchange I have peace, assurance, and comfort. I refuse to give any of my energy to any negative thought–all of it is geared toward this exam and declaring success for myself. Yes of course it’s intimidating (my future is kinda sorta riding on this) but my God is greater than any intimidation that tries to come my way. He is the Alpha and the Omega–He was here on May 1st and He’ll surely show up for me on June 12th.

TV One music happy sad good GIF

And, I mean at the end of the day, it’s just another of many exams to come, and go. So, here goes! I’m ready to rock this thing! Say an extra prayer for me if you happen to read this in time! And if there’s anything in particular you want to know about the exam, let me know and I’ll be sure to touch on it in my next post.

 film new girl yes yeah nick miller GIF

Also, side note, I’m really glad I located my testing site earlier today because it was so stressful navigating in Atlanta! I hate driving in the city with all of its one-way streets and pedestrians. Take me to the suburbs any day. But whatever–now tomorrow I know exactly where to go so I can focus on more important things.

ATTN: Rising Med School Applicants

Setting yourself up for success–what you can be doing now

This post goes out to all the pre-meds out there looking to apply for this cycle. Time has officially begun ticking! I know that you know applications open up in June (I’m sure it’s already in your calendar). But between your coursework, MCAT studying, shadowing, research, and changing the world, it’s important that you begin preparing some key parts of your application. I’ll preface all of this by encouraging you to just enjoy the process–despite how stressful and time consuming it can all be. And if you’re ever discouraged along the way, always remember your worth, and don’t let anyone make you feel like anything less.

Personal Statement

A one page essay encompassing all that you are and all you want to become. For me it took 5 drafts of constant editing and reworking. It stressed me out all the way into the summer when I had all these other things to worry about. If you can get this done before the semester ends, it will take such a load off. How do I even start? If you don’t have any old PS to build from, or just want to start fresh, my advice is to just carve out an hour or 2 one weekend and just word vomit everything you want to say onto the page. From there, determine what your thesis and main points will be, and chisel out the rest. Then, work to make each paragraph as tight as possible–any sentence that doesn’t add to the meaning of the paragraph gets cut. You’re not going to be able to talk about everything! Remember that you still have the rest of your application.

Who reviews it? Reach out to a few people you trust that are already in school–they’re the ones who know the game and how to play it. You should also have one faculty in your corner, like an English professor. Someone third party can really help you focus on what’s important because they don’t know you, so their feedback is so valuable. If you can get your points across to them clearly, you’re well on your way. The mistake I made was having too many people critique mine. Person A would have me delete something that person B really liked. Then Person C would tell me so move the whole paragraph somewhere else. It was too much honestly. If I could go back I’d limit it to 3 people then after I was happy with it, I’d start working one on one with the faculty to clean things up further.

Letters of Recommendation

It’s never too early to start thinking about this! Must haves: 2 science professors and at least 1 physician. Don’t be like me: I waited until practically the end of spring semester my senior year to realize that I didn’t know any of my science professors well enough. So I just scraped up recommendations from 2 professors teaching the same class that I was enrolled in. Who even knows what they wrote (obviously it wasn’t too bad). I was so worried that I gathered even more recommendations from other sources just in case their’s sucked. If you’re like me and don’t know who to ask, go ahead now and pencil in your professors’ next office hours and start paying them visits. Sit in the front of class and ask questions. Making good grades helps too. Then in about a month, email them saying you’d like them to write you a good recommendation for your medical school application. You’d like to schedule a meeting to discuss further, where you’d provide them your resume and personal statement (if ready). They should be willing. If you already have your people in mind, the earlier you notify them, the better. Why? Because they have more time to write you a meaningful recommendation! And it’s just less for you to worry about later on. Please don’t ask someone to write your letter without having an updated resume/CV to give to them.

Also, know your school’s system. At my school, all faculty recommendations had to be submitted to our pre-med office and they would send them for me. So I had to navigate that whole process without much guidance. Even more stress in April with my MCAT at the end of May. This stuff really catches up to you, I’m telling you! The earlier you do this stuff, the happier you’ll be. You may even have to get a committee letter from your pre-med office–just start asking the necessary questions now.

AMCAS 15

Most people know that the AMCAS application has a section that asks you to input your 15 most impactful experiences, then choose 3 as your “most meaningful.” There’s lots of opinions on this–whether you should fill it up or just go for quality. I say if you have 15 delicious quality experiences, then fill them in. But if you only have 8, then you don’t need to add 7 fluffy entries because it’ll water-down the other great things you’ve done. Regardless, you can start writing these out in the coming months. List them out and write a succinct paragraph about how that experience impacted you. I can’t explain the joy I had when the application opened and all I had to do was copy and paste my responses into the boxes. It saved me so much hassle. This time I say be like me haha.

Pro tip #1: Most of my application (including secondaries) was done using Google Docs. This was extremely helpful because I wasn’t limited to my laptop. I could make changes on my phone or at the library between classes

Pro tip #2: The AAMC website is your friend! Like the realest of real homies. It’s the holy grail of information. Including the Fee Assistance Program–allowing you to apply to 14 schools for free!

That’s is all I got for now. Look out for more from me as the semester goes on! I don’t want to overwhelm anyone too early on. I just want you to be great. If you need more specific advice, PLEASE reach out to me! I’d love to help.

Wishing you the best!