the-health-scout

The Health Scout, "Almost" MD

Dalya Ferguson (The Health Scout) is a PGY2 General Surgery resident at the University of Texas at Houston who is passionate about improving medical education, healthcare quality, and health literacy. Before medical school, she earned a BA in Literary Studies with a minor in Philosophy and worked at a healthcare consulting company for over 2 years. When she's not working, she is usually spending time with her husband and family, studying, reading, drawing cartoons, or tweeting.

http://www.thehealthscout.blogspot.com

How To Be More Confident In The Medical Field

The most important task for every premed and medical student is learning how to appear confident. If we want the privilege of cutting people open and prescribing potentially lethal drugs, we need steady hands. But confidence is something I’ve always struggled with, particularly in my academic life. The common theme in my feedback from faculty, bosses, and attendings has been: be more confident. This is a great problem to have. Presumably they all see a reason for me to be confident (who would tell an incompetent person to have confidence?). But it is a problem. Here’s what happens: a faculty member tells me to be more confident, and my first thought is always, Yeah, but… Yeah, but I’m not sure that what I’m saying is right. Yeah, but there’s more than one answer. Yeah, but I don’t feel confident. But what really prompts me to think, “Yeah, but”? Stephen Hawking famously said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” And it’s quite pleasant and intelligent-sounding to argue that my resistance stems from my internalization of the imperative to question one’s own knowledge. But that’s BS. In truth, my feelings stem from a much less pleasant reality, which became impossible to ignore when I was studying for Step 1: I don’t trust myself. And no situation better exemplifies this lack of trust than...

How Do You Find A Mentor?

One of the greatest moments of third year is when you figure out (or confirm) what you want to do with your life. (I know this doesn’t happen for everyone, and I’ll address that topic in a future post.) Okay, so you know what you want to be when you grow up. What now? You need to find a mentor. If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know how strongly I feel about mentorship. (My very first post was on this very topic.) But what is the purpose of this particular mentor? A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. Right now you need someone within your specialty to help you choose letter-writers, decide which programs to apply to, and prepare for interviews. You need someone to bolster your confidence when you get anxious about this process. You also need someone who will tell you things you don’t want to hear, so that you can match into the best possible program within your chosen specialty and not end up scrambling (or whatever they call it now). So what should you look for in a mentor? I recommend choosing someone who has expressed confidence in you, whose career you admire, and whose personality is somewhat similar to yours. Also look for someone well-versed in resident selection in your specialty or someone who has been through residency fairly recently. It’s...

What’s In My White Coat: Surgery Edition

________________________________________ From top left: 1. ID and scrub card: It’s always a good idea to have a pair of clean scrubs available. 2. Scalpel: For emergency airways. (Seriously, you should always have one with you. At the very least, you can hand it to someone who knows what to do.) 3. Dr. Pestana’s Surgery: This should actually be in your scrubs so that you can read it during downtime (in pre-op, for example). 4. Stethoscope: You need to evaluate bowel sounds for post-op checks. 5. Xeroform gauze 6. Lube: Because every GI bleed and acute abdomen requires a DRE. (You’ve heard this joke, right? Q: When is it okay for the medical student to skip the DRE? A: When they don’t have any fingers.) 7. Scissors 8. Phone charger: So you can charge up while you’re scrubbed in. 9. Tape 10. Forceps: Useful for removing packing. (Make sure to discard or clean after each use.) 11. Lunch! 12. Highlighter and pens 13. Gum: For post-call morning...

Fun With Rounding

Lately I’ve been joking with my classmates about rounds. It’s really interesting how well rounds match the personalities of the people in that specialty. Internal Medicine rounds are notoriously long, mostly because each patient has a tremendously complicated medical history and multiple possible etiologies for their chief complaint. But most of the people on the Medicine team are just waiting to subspecialize, and each of the subspecialties have their own unique rounding style. Rheumatologists don’t mind discussing antibodies all day. Nephrologists are all geniuses who can evaluate weeks of labs in a few seconds. Neurologists are extremely cerebral (pun intended) and can discuss a single image or lab at length. Stroke rounds were by far the longest rounds I’ve ever experienced. One day we just didn’t finish rounding. It got to be 5 PM and the residents had to put in orders before checking out to the night float, so we didn’t see the last few patients as a team. That was interesting… And then Surgery… Ah, Surgery rounds, the very best of all rounds. (Since I last posted I’ve decided to apply to general surgery, but that’s another topic for another day.) Surgery rounds are just like surgeons: fast, accurate, and efficient. On Pediatric Surgery we rounded on roughly 40 patients in less than an hour and a half, and not a single detail was overlooked. It was...

Contents of a Medical Student’s Refrigerator

If you love food and you are having trouble remembering the nitty-gritty details of those disease states, just picture what a medical student’s refrigerator would look like! You’ll never forget “maple syrup urine syndrome” after you pour that syrup over your morning pancakes…or at least you hope it’s...

Functional Anatomy of a the Student’s Brain

The many things on a med student’s...

How Med Students Envision Match Day

Congratulations! All of your hard work over the past 4 years has finally paid off! And you only have at least 3 more years until you are actually an attending and don’t have to give your seat up for a doctor’s pocketbook! So in honor of match day we take a look at how future specialists feel when receiving those previous white...

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