Rotation Roundup: Rural family medicine elective

Awww, so cute, a rural-themed pop bottle!

So I’ve made a decision. (Shocking for an indecisive person, I realize.) From here on through 4th year, I’m going to write up each of the rotations as I finish them.  Well, that’s the plan, anyway.  I have been known to let my laziness get the better of me.  [Points to unfinished neurology notes]  A nod to Mind on Medicine, where I got the idea.Please note, these are slightly selfish posts.  As in, for my benefit and never mind my handful of readers.  Because in a large number of months, I have to decide what I’d like to do for the rest of my life, and a quick overview of the clinical years might come in handy.  Hell, maybe it’ll even be useful to my med school contemporaries.

The where: Medicine Hat (love that it’s considered “rural”)

The good: Variety is the name of the game here.  At this particularly busy clinic, there are lots of last-minute bookings, which really keeps you on your toes.  And I do love that.  It’s constantly refreshing to deal with unstable angina one moment and fractures the next.  You don’t know what’s going to walk through your door every day, so you’ve got to keep your brain as wide open as you can while still giving your pattern recognition a chance to work.  As my preceptor said, “If it floats and quacks, it’s almost always a duck.  But we don’t want to miss the penguins.”

And follow-up.  Oh my word, do I ever love following up.  That sounds weirder than it is, honestly.  You should know that up until now, every patient I’ve ever met has been a one-off interview.  You take a massive, thorough history that involves every seemingly irrelevant detail of their life… but you only do it once.  But during the last two weeks, I’ve seen lots of patients more than once (even some WAY more than once).  And it is such a lovely feeling to walk in the room and recognize the person in the chair.  More importantly, the patient recognizes me.  They remember how I seemed nice.  Maybe even that I made them laugh.  And that makes chatting not just easier, but infinitely more enjoyable.

The not-so-good: In any medical field with long-term follow-up, there’s going to be an element of frustration.  Nobody’s perfect.  Life gets in the way of those stupid yellow pills.  Quitting smoking sucks.  Being a diabetic is unbelievably inconvenient.  Finishing the antibiotics that make you feel terrible never seems worth it.  And no matter how great you (their nearly-there-physician) think all these ideas are, expecting perfection is setting yourself up for disappointment.  I absolutely think that anyone is capable of changing their path in life.  But I absolutely don’t expect everybody to get it on the first try.  Or even the tenth try.

The verdict: In a word?  YES.  It’s been such a fascinating, pleasantly hectic two weeks, I’m a tad sorry to see it end.  There were more “first’s” this week than I can count: first Pap, first personality disorder, first DRE, first chart, first follow-up interview, first time making a patient cry (I KNOW, I’m a terrible human being), first time using liquid nitrogen, first time on a locked-down psych ward… you can’t really forget the elective where you got to do all that.  And on top of it all, I was working with such a lovely group of people – everyone was all excited to teach me and willing put up with my terrible math skills.  Important traits for anyone thinking of working with me.

So there you have it!  An awesome elective in the bag and nothing but the UK on my mind.  Getting pumped for the trip this July, and again, let me know what you’d like to hear over the rest of the summer!

 – Atalanta

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1 Comment

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One response to “Rotation Roundup: Rural family medicine elective

  1. Angela Goudman

    I’m rather surprised the Hat is considered rural. That’s not what I’d call rural, but maybe that’s because I’ve worked in some pretty remote places (fly-in only, or >1 hour from the nearest civilization). Rural does indeed present some interesting issues. See my recent note for examples 🙂

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