Aug 29, 2016

Uno mas

So I hate Tampa.

For clarification, and to avoid the wrath of a few Tampa Bay Ray fans, I've been to Tampa like... once.  And it was to take AP/CP boards.  And while I passed it, it was one of those experiences you get through much like you get through a divorce or the death of a pet.

Tomorrow, I get to head back to take what better damn well be my last major (1800 dollar) exam for the next nine years.  The cytopathology boards.

I'm not filled with dread.  I probably should be, since adulting has made me far less interested in cramming algorithms for post pap screening into my addled brain since I *literally* have an app for that.  So I'm doing a great deal of studying tonight to attain that ever sought triple board status.

There are a few pathology unicorns out there with quadruple boards.  Some are MD/PhDs with multiple subspecialties because they just hate making a livable salary that much or just really love knowledge, I don't know.

But I feel like a grown up.  I have a mortgage loan pending.  I took a tea tasting class.  I successfully argued a case against one of my colleagues (nicely).  I nailed a diagnosis that was reinforced to be correct after the chief surgeon made me sent it to Hopkins.  Despite crawling bleeding and broken from the bottom of the totem pole a mere eight weeks ago, exams already feel like this weird thing of the past.

Until Wednesday.  Then they're very much of the present.

I'd say more, but despite being a staunch materialist, doctors are superstitious creatures.  More info once everything is secured.  Until then, I have books to study so I can memorize information that doesn't need to be cluttering up my brain.  Keep in mind, I never plan to stop learning and adding to my information.  But I'd much rather be learning about new stains that have better sensitivities for tough diagnoses and recognition of rare disease patterns rather than things I can look up in 20 seconds.

In a sense, though I tend to do all right with them, I truly hate the whole multiple choice approach to medicine.  My diagnostic capability is not based on whether I can recognize a tyrosine crystal in a single poorly 2D image from a pleomorphic adenoma slide.  What is my triage method?  What tests do I run on a scant specimen?  If I have a malignancy of unknown origin in an elderly woman's pleural fluid, I don't need to have the "second leading cause of malignant pleural effusions" memorized and then try to figure out whether the questions as written ten years ago or ten months ago and whether a few things switched places on the charts.  I need a basic, streamlined workup that is most likely to lead me to the correct diagnosis for the least money and waste of specimen.  I need to know when to ask for help, when to ask for flow cytometry, and when to get a cell block and what stains to order on the cell block, and when to stop throwing money and time down the drain and call the clinician to ask for repeat collection.

That's what I do.  I don't parrot algorithms because if that were all there were to medicine, machines could do it and we wouldn't need doctors.

Such is life, and at least for now, it's a happy one.  So tomorrow I'm off to the land of evil and fairly solid beer (thanks Cigar City brewing).