The Dream


It’s Whatever Wednesdays. After spending some time on Twitter these last two weeks, I think I’ve really been able to figure out who I am trying to help. In my About section, I wrote:

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What do you hope to accomplish? What is the end game?

Hope to accomplish? My goals are both meager and lofty.

First, this will be a place to collect all my thoughts and experiences. I want to share this collection with others or perhaps my children if they decide to become doctors. I am sure there are a wealth of websites about getting into medical school, doing well in medical school, and obtaining your dream specialty… and living happily ever after. However, this isn’t a fairy tale and life doesn’t end after medical school…that is when it really begins. There are also websites dedicated to medical school debt, financial advice, insurance, etc. So then… what void does my website fill…?

I would like this to be a place where all medical students come to for some sort of guidance about “real life”, a place that the 4th years tell the 3rd years to visit after match day. I want it to be a place that interns, residents, and young physicians will visit and revisit every now and then to see if they are on track. They will come here to make sure they didn’t miss or forget anything along the way. I want it to be constantly updated with the new challenges that will face those who come after me, and who come after us.

Health care continues to change. Medical school debt continues to increase. Training continues to get longer. Reimbursements continue to decline. All of these things effect young physicians coming out.

I want to prevent people from making the mistakes I did. I want this new generation of physicians to not be afraid to talk to each other about things other than medicine. Doctors are people too and we have problems just like anyone else. However, asking for help is looked down upon in our profession which makes no sense to me. I want this to be a forum to learn and keep learning. I want people to ask questions, and if I don’t have the answers, I want to research them and figure them out.

Those are my primary and more immediate goals.

Long term, I would like to call to attention just how ill-prepared medical students and those with extended schooling are to handle the real world once they finish. I would like medical schools and other professional schools to rethink their 4th year curricula to include some sort of seminar for the last semester of 4th year after the match. I hope they will add a course to aid their students with this transition.

”Be the change you want to see in the world”… right?”

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“The Dream” is kind of like my version of a mission statement.

I wanted to take this time to kind of refocus on what “The Dream” is and where I am in the process. Like I said, my dream is both meager and lofty.

On the meager side, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of pushing out content. Some of it good and some of it ok. I hope that none of it is bad. As a collection of my thoughts and life experiences, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. However, there is only so much of yourself you can share as an “anonymous” individual. As such, you can find out who I really am on my About section via the LinkedIn or Doximity link. In the future I think I will try to flesh out exactly who I am and my life story. I may even post a few pictures of myself and my family here and there so you guys know I am a real person.

For the first few months, I was really just writing to get my thoughts down somewhere. My primary goal was just to see if I could commit enough time every week to make blog posts 3x/week and generate content. I think I have succeeded in this aspect. Posting 3x/week has been difficult and I’m not sure how long I can keep it up, but I wanted to push myself to do it for at least a year. Then I may need to scale back to a 2-1-2-1 schedule or something like that.

For the first few months, the traffic to my site was pretty much non-existent and I was ok with that since I didn’t have much content really. Gradually, I got some views here and there, mostly from friends and family. I made some small tweaks to the site once in awhile too. It still needs some work, but I’ve kind of grown attached to my theme. However, once I produced some content I was proud of, it was time to try to get involved and put myself out there.

My Twitter account, which I created mainly just to cross-post to as an index for my blog, now needed to get some use. I jumped into the Twittersphere and found there was a lot of good stuff out there. Lots of great doctors, med students, pre-meds, and other young health care professionals (RN, PA, NP, CRNA, DDS, OD, PharmD, etc.) who I felt could benefit from what I had to say.

Then, an opportunity came up. I’m volunteer faculty for the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH JABSOM). I had previously offered to give a lecture to the 3rd and/or 4th years about life after medical school. For the most part I think their lecture schedule is relatively fixed so I wasn’t really needed. However, they had a sudden cancellation and I was given a 2 hour time slot to speak to the 3rd years. I managed to put together a PowerPoint presentation of about 55 slides with a crash course of everything that is on this site that I think is important. These were mainly the things I wish I knew when I was a medical student but no one ever told me about (or I just never listened to anyone about).


So how did it go?

I haven’t given a 2 hour lecture before. The last lecture I did was a Grand Rounds Presentation back in residency which was just an hour. My 55 slides would probably only be about 1.5 hours long right? There should be plenty of time for breaks and/or questions at the end, right?

Wrong. I stood up there and talked to the 3rd years for 2 hours straight. [no breaks]

No one fell asleep. I saw a lot of head nodding. There was a few laughs at my jokes. I noticed some solemn looks when I talked about disability insurance and life insurance and such. There were a few good questions. Of course, these are 3rd year medical students. Their priorities are mostly focused on surviving their clinical rotations, acing the Shelf Exams, and getting high pass or honors. I stated this fact explicitly. However, I also told them to hold on to the PowerPoint and review it as 4th years, interns, residents, and even young attendings to see where they were.

I hope they do it.

I left my email address for “follow-up questions” like every lecturer does. However, I wasn’t expected any emails. Surprisingly, I did get one:

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I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the talk you gave this Friday at JABSOM!! I can’t express how much I appreciate it. I feel like no one really talks about these things and they’re so important, so thank you VERY much for putting in the time and effort for us! 🙂

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I felt I made a difference. A small one. But a real one. Someone took the time to email me and thank me.

This really motivated me to put myself out there on Twitter and start talking to people. I ramped up my Twitter usage and started talking to people on #medtwitter and #bromedtwitter and #girlmedtwitter. Some other good hashtags are: #studentloans, #medschool, and #medschoolproblems. There are a lot of really, really good people on Twitter.

Ok, so my meager goals seem on track. What about the lofty ones?

Well… what was the lofty goal? My lofty goal was that I wanted medical schools to add a “Life After Med School” series during the 3rd and 4th years. After giving a lecture to the 3rd years, I have since expanded that to include residencies and fellowships. My ideal is that every new medical student (or professional equivalent) comes out of school with the tools for life stability, a successful career, and a reasonable financial knowledge base. I would like for there to be a minimal “default” or “standard” which everyone knows about. This is then re-visited during residency and fellowship to make sure they are on track. Then after they get their first jobs as attendings, their plan of attack for loans and retirement is already well ingrained and ready to go.


Ok, sounds good… who would give these “lectures”?

Well, me, or people better than me. This day in age, everything is digital, but I think the UH JABSOM students would agree that my 55 slide PowerPoint presentation was much more valuable with me standing up there talking than just the slides themselves. It really should be a recording of a lecture rather than just a PowerPoint presentation. While I could share the presentation here on my site, I just don’t think it’s worth it by itself. All the information on the PowerPoint presentation is available on my site, I just condensed it into a 55 slide, 2 hour lecture.  The recorded lecture itself is a much better presentation of the material. So like, I said, me or someone better than me should record a lecture series.

Another lofty goal is that I would also eventually like to have enough really good content on here to convert into a book. I’ve figured out that I really do enjoy writing, and more so than that, I enjoy teaching. Writing challenges me every day to try to distill the little bits of knowledge I have into something easy to understand.

The third lofty goal is that I would like “Senior Resident” to be a known entity. I would really like it if every year, young attendings tell their residents to come here, the residents tell the students to come here, and the students tell the pre-meds to come here.

You know how every goes and buys First Aid for Step 1? I want it to be like that. 

If medical school was in your past, present, or future you stop by my site. I would also like to expand my reach to the other health professionals:

My little brother is currently in Pharmacy school, and his student loans will be pretty high by the time he gets out. He will need my guidance in order to pay down his student loans (rough estimate of $250,000) on an ~$120,000/yr salary. I would imagine that many of the PharmD, OD, DDS, etc students are in or will be in the same boat.


Hmm… is there anything more lofty than that?

Potentially. Possibly. Potentially possible. Maybe. Perhaps. Mayhaps or Perbe.

I’m not sure yet. Let’s see if any of the other lofty goals are ever realized first.

Stick with me guys. I think I’ll be around for awhile.


TL;DR

It’s good to have goals: both big and small.

I think I’m doing ok on the small ones so far.

The big ones are still far off in the horizon… but I can see them.

 

-Sensei

Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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