Cleaning Sprees!

Last Saturday we rented a truck and our friends helped us move all our furniture to our new place. (How did we acquire so much furniture?!) On Wednesday we had a mad cleaning frenzy at our townhouse to get rid of 4 years of stains and grime in the hopes of regaining some of our security deposit. And today we had a mad cleaning frenzy to get ready for our golden retriever rescue home visit.

This is what our kitchen looked like this morning:


And this is what it looked like right before our home visit:


Chris did a great job!! Our house is starting to look like a home. Well the upstairs living area does, every other room is full of boxes.

We’ll get there!

Pomp and Rites of Passage

Last weekend, Chris graduated from medical school with about 60 other medical and graduate students. As I thought about the anthropological significance of this occasion, I realized that it was a rite of passage, that rite of passage being medical school.

Rites of passage are celebrated across the globe in many different cultures. A famous example is the Native American vision quest, in which youth went away from their families to fast and survive in their wilderness and seek guidance from the universe. Von Gennep, the fellow who came up with the theory of rites of passage, separated these rituals into three parts; separation from the group (when the individual leaves the community); the liminal space (a kind of “in-between” time); and reincorporation into the group.

Graduation from medical school is a very different sort of a rite of passage than a vision quest. Instead of initiation into adulthood, it represents initiation into Medicine. Medical school a part of this rite of passage. Students leave their families for school and spend four years in the nebulous liminal space of medical school, a time full of uncertainty and lack of belonging. Medical students go through an initial “white coat” ceremony (no white coats at Mayo, but they did have an oath swearing) to separate them from their peers and family. They then undergo two years of brain-crushing basic sciences, the life-changing ritual of dissecting a cadaver (overcoming the natural aversion to opening up a human body), and the life-sucking whirl of clinical sessions. Finally, at graduation, they are reconnected to society in their new role: doctors!

Graduation is a big deal. Families from across the country gathered to celebrate this important milestone. Famous journalist Tom Brokaw gave the commencement speech, welcoming graduates into the complex ever-changing world of medicine. One-by-one the graduates were “hooded” with the awkward ring of cloth signifying a graduate degree.

Afterwards, we were treated to a lavish feast – I mean, reception- cheese and crackers, vegetable, little salads, sandwiches and even bananas foster and chocolate-covered strawberries. Families took pictures in the hall as the graduates milled around in their ornate regalia. Afterwards people filtered away to further celebrations – graduation parties, elegant dinners. We ate at Michael’s, the same place we went for my graduation last year.

Graduation. Celebration. Rites of passage. A great chance to see everyone and celebrate the transition to the next phase of our life. 76

Med School Summary

Less than a week remains before my husband graduates from medical school, and here are some thoughts on what each year entails before we leave this stage forever. (Yippee!!)  
MS1 (that’s medical school year 1 yo) – Classroom learning enlightened with the occasional moment of shadowing, aka – gasp – patient interaction. Basic sciences with a strong dose of humanities. At the beginning, the group travels in an amorphous pack; as the year goes on, tribes break off (the partying crowd, the married crowd, etc). Some students begin never ending “research” projects. Spouse perspective: except for anatomy, you get to see your loved one, but s/he may be busy and stressed with studying. Tips: Do some anatomy flashcards together and try to settle in. 
MS2 – The classroom learning intensifies. The first major hurdle appears on the horizon: USMLE Step 1, a test that all medical students have to take. For a few months preceding this exam, many students become crazy  study-a-holics who barricade themselves in the library to review books with *clever* titles like “First Aid.” Spouse perspective: Worse then first year because your spouse may become a libs zombie and, if not, many of his/her friends will, thus limiting your social circle. Tips: Help your spouse find balance while studying and make yourself some friends outside the medical school.
MS3: The most difficult and interesting year of medical school, the year that suppposedly separates medical students from their emotions and helps them find their calling. During this year students do rotations aka clerkships in  neuro, ob/gyn, peds, family medicine, internal medicine medicine, and surgery. There will be sleep deprivation and “pimping” and working on weekends and gentle hazing from the residents and “shelf” exams. So not only do they work their behinds off, they get tested on information they are somehow supposed to make time to learn. This year many med students leave temporarily to get addition degrees like MFAs, MPHs, social work degrees, PhDs, etc etc. Spouse perspective: Supportive care!! Just get your spouse through the rotations and relish the weekends in between rotations. Pay attention to what s/he likes and dislikes as that will determine their residency and your fate. Tips: Stay in touch with the friends doing other programs but also cultivate those outside friendships because things are only going to get more fragmented.
MS4: Much better than 3rd year, in my experience, but it depends on what residency your spouse preferred in MS3. Med students do various required and elective rotations and may travel about the country. The most important part of the year is applying to, interviewing at, ranking, and matching into residency programs. Therefore there is a lot of “vacation” time built in. Of course if you have 3 interviews in 3 different cities in one week, it ain’t no vacation. Spouse perspective: You may love it or hate it. It depends on what program your spouse is doing. Many people think this is the best MS year to have babies, but that’s a big decision.  Tips: If you can tag along do – meet all the nice residents and fams, eat good food, get a feel for the town. If your spouse prefers a cutthroat, I mean, competitive residency, where students have to interview at 50 places just to get a spot (and probably not the one s/he wanted)… all I can say is, keep your spouse sane.
So there you have it, 4 years of medical school in one succinct blog post! Team effort, y’all, team effort.

C Shift

I worked C shifts this weekend for the first and possibly last time in my career. A C-shift is 11am-11pm and it has many advantages and disadvantages. Let me say this; it’s an interesting experience!!

There are many different shifts in nursing-land, some of which I’ve talked about before. When we get our schedule (still on paper in 2013), we have our name and then under each day a blank or a letter or symbol. There are about 60 letters and symbols signifying different amounts of time worked, excuses for time not worked, orientation etc etc. 

I have worked D or day shift (7am-3pm), E  or evening (3pm-11pm), A or “all day” (7am-7pm), and M or as I like to think of it “midnight” (7 pm-7am). I’ve never heard of anyone working a B (9am-9pm) but that’s on the list too.

Advantages to a C shift are:

1) Waking up late! None of that 5 in the morning business.

2) Working during “normal awake” hours (for a nurse) and thus being able to return to a normal schedule during the week.

3) Normally on a weekend shift you take 1 45minute -hour long break, but with a C shift most units are very accommodating and will give you 2 30 minute breaks so you can keep up your energy level (mealtimes were something I was worried about but it turns out it’s not an issue!)

4) For me, C shifts apparently meant Cardiac as I went to two different cardiac units this weekend. I can’t read strips but I do enjoy cardiac units. Hearts are cool!


1) At 11 am you’re usually taking a patient from someone who has only been there for 4 hours, and then often you’re only there for 4 hours… it can be a little confusing for the patient!

2) You have to wait on that assessment. We normally assess first thing in the morning and sometime in the afternoon/ evening, so with a C shift you’re usually waiting at least 5 hours before doing an official assessment (sometimes more like 10 hours)

3) No one else is working a C shift so at 7 you lose your “crew” and have to make new alliances.

Finally, like all other 12 hour shifts, a C shift is draining and takes up the entire day. But it’s a fun experience and I would do it again! Is it better than an A? Not in my opinion, because after an A shift you can go hang out with your friends until bedtime. With a C shift, you sleep, work, sleep.

So that’s the skinny on C shift! Now back to normal – E’s, A’s, and M’s!