Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day...

Drew takes Step II (Clinical Knowledge) tomorrow, Wednesday July 29th - wish him luck, or better yet please say a prayer if you think of it! He has been studying hard so I'm just hoping and praying that he does his best. I'm sure he'll do fine but it is still a little nerve wracking (who am I to talk though - I am not taking the test) because he needs to do reasonably well... it would look bad if his score (as compared to Step I) dropped significantly. So here is to trusting God and hoping that Drew performs as well as he needs to in order to match wherever we are meant to be (and to asking God for enough peace and understanding and peace to accept wherever that may be). May His will be done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Step II - Clinical Skills

Check. Drew completed the first part of Step Two (the clinical skills portion) Tuesday, in Chicago. For those of you taking it next year, there are only five clinical skills test locations, nationwide. The other (written) portion (clinical knowledge) of the exam can be taken at the same locations that Step One is offered. Drew will be taking that portion of the exam next Wednesday (again prayers are very much appreciated it). The clinical skills portion is pass/fail, and he feels pretty good about it, so we're hoping he passed. From my understanding he "saw" 12 different patients (15 minutes each) and then had time (10 minutes) to do write-ups on the patients.
Here was the schedule: he saw 5 patients in the morning. Then they fed them lunch over a half hour break. Then he saw 4 more patients and got a fifteen minute break and finished up with the final three patients. I think he was finished around three-ish in the afternoon.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Step II is expensive. I don't know off hand exactly how much it is (I need to have my husband look up the credit card bill, but he is too busy studying for the clinical knowledge portion of the test), but I'll be sure to post the cost in the future. We took out a special loan to pay for it, and luckily with the clinical skills portion being in Chicago we were able to save some money because he didn't have to fly and he was able to stay with his sister.

In other news my darling Drew has also started his personal statement for his residency application. This seems to be a daunting task. I had to do something similar in applying for law school and it was absolutely dreadful. Having the option to write anything is often more difficult than being assigned a topic. From what I have heard...
  1. They don't read too much into the personal statement.
  2. It is more read to make sure that you can write competently.
  3. Generally it doesn't help you but it can hurt you (meaning if it is terrible or you say the wrong thing).

Any residents, doctors or spouses want to confirm/deny any of these rumors I've heard?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The beginning of Test Season

I'm marking today as the start of "test season." Drew left for Chicago for the clinical skills portion of Step II. They only offer this part of the test in five locations all around the country. Fortunately, Chicago is one of those locations so that we don't have to pay for plane tickets or hotel rooms! He is actually taking the clinical skills portion on Tuesday - so if you think of it sometime before then please say a prayer for him. This portion of the exam is pass/fail. Drew should be back Tuesday night which will give him Wednesday to unwind and study for senior CCX which is both Friday and Saturday. Senior CCX is similar to the clinical skills portion of Step II, but it is for medical school. Then next Wednesday, Drew will take the written portion of Step II, this portion of the exam is a little more important because it isn't pass/fail and the score he receives will be looked at when he is applying to residency programs. So needless to say, with all these tests coming up, we'd greatly appreciate all your prayers!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Appellate Court

So one of the many reasons work has been quite busy this week is because I was preparing for my very first argument in appellate court. I've written two or three appellate briefs (I know, its terrible that I can't remember exactly how many, but I honestly lose track of the different cases I have worked on), but before this week I had never actually argued in front of the appellate court. I was scared, but I knew it was not something I could pass up when my boss asked me if I wanted to argue this case. It is not that I didn't want the opportunity, but I was terrified of subjecting myself to a panel of appellate justices.
In appellate court each side has 20 minutes to argue their case, but during that twenty minutes you have to be prepared to be interrupted, questioned, and argued with. (In my case the justices actually took a full hour in questions us). It is considered the justices job to attack your argument, and conceding on an issue or providing the wrong answer can cause your argument (and entire case) to crumble and fail. And while it is important to answer every question the justices poses, it is also crucial to stay on track and not allow their questions to cause you to stray from the issues at hand or prevent you from getting your point across.
One thing that one of the partners has taught me is that the difference between winning and losing, is often, how you frame the issue. Therefore, in my argument before the appellate court it was crucial that I stressed the right points and didn't allow the appellee's irrelevant arguments derail or distract from the point of our appeal - which was that the prior decision was arbitrary.
Much to my surprise the argument went really well (especially considering my limited experience). If I haven't mentioned already, I represented the appellant (person appealing the decision), and for that reason I expected to be eaten alive. The person appealing hasthe burden (to prove that the prior decision was wrong) and therefore the court will generally attack all your arguments and be harder on you. Fortunately, that wasn't the case for me, I think the justices were actually harder on the appellee - which was good for me and my case.
I was scared to death, and am honestly still in shock that I was able to stand there and clearly, cohesively, give favorable responses to every question they threw my way. It was like my adrenaline took over and I just calmly and naturally answered each question with confidence. (I can't help but feel that God was present, because it went so ridiculously smooth and so much better than I had expected).
I know most people assume that attorneys are good at arguing and quick thinking - but honestly, I never had these skills (naturally). But after this week I realize that these are skills that I am learning and developing - and that, is such a great feeling!
As to whether we will win - it is still a long shot - my boss told me that only about 20% of these decisions are reversed. Although it would be an extra bonus to win this case simply because I am a "first year attorney" who "knows nothing."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Making a list

So we started the first step of applying to residency - and for us that was making a list. A list of all the programs we want to apply to. Since we expect the process to be quite competitive, Drew set a target of applying to around 30 programs (in order to increase his odds of matching). First we considered all the programs where we currently have friends and family. Next we looked at the remaining programs all over the country and thought "do we really want to live here?" This allowed us to eliminate the programs that were in locations that we could never imagine ourselves living - for example, Wyoming (no offense). We also looked at certain programs in which we decided - "No, I wouldn't ordinarily want to live in Timbucktoo, but I would live there if you got into program X." And through that very scientific process we were able to come up with our list of roughly 30 programs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brief Update

Just checking in after another fantastic weekend with family and friends. I finally feel like I can really unpack because I don't have any plans to travel until the end of next month! How unusual that we will have consecutive weekends at home?! Unfortunately, it is going to be a crazy busy week at work so I don't know when I will have time to update on our great weekend and Drew's fourth year (so-far)... but hopefully it will be soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New Year

The "Medical Year" begins every year on July 1st. People joke that you never want to get sick/hospitalized at the beginning of July - this is because July is when the medical graduates officially become residents, and the former residents become attendings... so lots of people are new at their jobs! This July 1st Drew finished the last of his third year exams and officially became a fourth year medical student! He is in his final year of medical school and we are in our final year of acquiring student debt! Woo hoo! Drew also got his "pin" (log-in and password) for applying to residency programs. This means that he can start putting together his applications even though they can't actually be submitted until September 1st. It is crazy to think that this is the beginning of the whole application process - from what I've heard this year is going to fly by! Only 254 days till "Match Day" and 319 days until graduation - but believe it or not, I'm in no rush... I'm happy right where we are.
So although it is a bit late,
Congrats to those of you in medicine (or those of you supportive spouses) for surviving another year of the very long training process - and Good luck in this new year!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another fun and busy weekend

This past weekend Drew's cousin got married. A few weeks ago I offered to help with the odds and ends on the day of (kind of like a day-of coordinator). I was hoping that I could give the bride some peace of mind and help things move smoothly on her big day. (I figured I know how to help since I have been married and have been in quite a few weddings so I know what things need to get done). So on Thursday night when we were at the rehearsal I introduced myself to the church coordinator and told her I would be helping out and asked if there was anything I could do. Her response was "Oh your the wedding coordinator, great! Just follow me around and I'll tell you what you have to do." I tried to explain that I was just a friend helping out, but for some reason from then on I was dubbed as the wedding coordinator. It was quite funny actually. Some of the bride's family and friends really thought I was a wedding coordinator! (People were asking me if it was my job, and asking whether or not I was available for hire). Although it was a very busy day, I had lots of fun being part of the action! The beautiful bride
Mr. and Mrs.
Saturday was a day of recovery - we lounged around at the newlywed's house and ate leftover wedding cake before heading to my parents house that night.
Sunday morning Drew and I woke up early for another big event - Olivia's Baptism! (Olivia is one of my best friend's -since elementary school- baby girl.) I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but I was asked (and am honored) to be one of Olivia's sponsors/Godmother.

Olivia - wearing the same dress her Mommy was baptised in!

Afterwards we went to Olivia's Grandparent's for a lovely luncheon and enjoyed the Crystal Lake Independance Day parade.

Livie and I at the Parade

Unfortunately I didn't get much sleep this weekend and am totally and completely exhausted. So I'll be trying to get to bed early this week!