Nov 21, 2013

Fellowship Achieved!!!!

Huzzahs and the like.

It's strange; a fellowship is a one year commitment where you're not paid much more than a resident, and gives you no guarantee of a full-time position, and yet the overwhelming relief of being able to somewhat relax and focus on my studies and my patients since I now have employment through mid-2016 is pretty great.  I still want to build up my CV and go to conferences,  but now I'm not scrabbling to get publications in during a surgical pathology month because applications are due.

I'm really happy with where I'm going, and I'm really happy with the responses to my applications.

Essentially, I had a fairly solid bet of a cytopathology fellowship at my home program, which is groovy and kept the application process from being as stressful as it could have been (or as expensive, since it meant I only applied to programs that I thought could be a step up from mine rather than "any job"), and my attending pulled me aside to tell me that I was safe, but that I should fly out of the nest if possible to get different training.

But I didn't apply to enough medical schools, particularly for my stats, which weren't bad, but not good enough to put all my money on the California schools, which I did.  I went to SGU, as you know, which is a decision that may be pretty darn expensive, but I don't regret.

I did learn my lesson for residency.  Despite going through the hellishly expensive ERAS program, I applied to 51 programs, got mid 20s interview invites, went on 16 interviews (gah), and ranked 14.

Fellowship, I hedged more, despite it not yet being an ERAS process for most pathology fellowships (thank the gods), and applied to six, two of which I didn't expect a response from, and the four that I was hoping for all offered an interview, and the three where I went (including home), expressed a strong interest in me.

It was hearsay until now, but I do feel like the Caribbean stigma decreases with each stage of training.  Though make sure all your stuff is in order because your biggest skill will need to be your unofficial degree in red-tapeology.  I had a couple of days of sweating for the program where I'm going because some of my rotations weren't greenbook according to this particular state.  For those of you heading for your fourth year clinical rotations, that means doing your rotation in a program that has a residency program *with that residency*.  In other words, orthopedic surgery needs to have ortho residents, not surgery residents.  Most states either don't care at all or allow umbrella coverage (ortho and anesthesia could be covered by a program having a surgery residency) and you should know what those states are, how many weeks are required, and what extra requirements you need.  And if you say "I'll never live in that state", you'd be surprised.

So it's going well.  Also, start all paperwork processes early.  Way earlier than you think you need them.  You need weird extra paperwork or your home state takes 8 weeks to send a birth certificate?  Apply near the deadline, and that's sweat and tears.  Apply 18 months early, and it's vaguely annoying.

Medical school feels farther away.  I'm not sure what Grenada is up to lately, or how much the resources around the school have been built up.  I remember all the residents' and attendings' names from third and fourth year and remember smiling and chatting with the in the hall five months after my rotation, and only am aware now that those residents largely had no recollection of me at all, saw the short white coat, and had the same "how are applications going for you?" conversation that is always a safe bet, because that's exactly what I do now when they wave and smile at me in the hall.  They rotate for two weeks, maybe a month, two or three at a time.  I get that difficult "Oh... um... tomorrow I have a lecture/interview/blood draw/drug test/dean meeting?" question that I remember finding so hard to ask because I was afraid my residents would think I wasn't interested in the rotation and realize now that oh my god, we don't care at all.

I still try to teach them, advise them, show them what I'm doing geared to their specialty, and not scut them too much, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't call them "short coat" or "medical student" when I'm addressing them if their name tags aren't showing.  We tend to reference them by appearance "hey, did you have giant medical student?  He was amazingly helpful."  Or "Did you have Harry Potter med student?  He wouldn't stop checking his Pinterest app for the entire sign out".  Then I wonder if I had a designation as a medical student, or if I'm the jerk resident that every medical student hates.

I briefly contemplated tutoring the MCAT when specifically asked to, because hey, free money, and upon a rudimentary glance at the study materials, realized there is absolutely no way.  Friction on a bike tire?  Seriously?

Cytopathology is going well, despite constantly having to ditch out on my chosen specialty to fly to interviews, since I thought invites would come *way* later than they actually did.  My attending has been very understanding about it, fortunately.  I managed to complete a successful FNA without bungling it or upsetting the patient.  I'm upping my reading now.

So it's good.  Things are good.  Life is pretty good.