Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I MATCHED!!!

Into what specialty do you match the girl who loves everything?

RURAL FAMILY MEDICINE!!!

I felt that this post needed to be written today. So despite the fact that I am running on 1.5 hrs of sleep and am still trying to grasp the outcome of yesterday's events, I wanted to update the blogosphere. 

The last few weeks seemed to drag on with painful anticipation. I spent many sleepless nights trying to sort out how to rank, and trying to decide what I truly wanted to be. After I submitted my list to CaRMS I started really doubting my list order. I mean, really started doubting. I had what can only be described as pseudo-panic attacks where I would go around and around in my head all the possible outcomes of the match. What would make me happy now? In 5 years? In 10 years? What was going to be able to give me the life that I wanted outside of work? What could provide me with the chance to write, maybe do some more work for CBC, travel, have flexibility, allow me to keep my athletic pursuits up, and also just enjoy big and small adventures with Duncan (I know, I know...I am introducing this character late in the game but he deserves his own post later). I've been wrestling with my first love (emergency medicine) and my new love (obstetrics) and trying to decide which of the two I wanted to do. Then I would be in clinic and see a few kids and think, "But...peds! I LOVE PEDS TOO!" or I'd meet the most fly 87 y.o lady who'd reinforce my hope for aging awesomely and I would mourn the loss of elderly patients. Also? It turns out I really enjoy continuity of care in my life. It just brings a whole other layer to job satisfaction for me.

I know, could the writing on the wall have been any more obvious?! I love getting off the beaten track, away from throbbing mega-hospitals and being somewhere that I know the radiographer's names as well as the name of the woman who serves the casseroles in the cafeteria. I don't want to live somewhere that people look at your handbag, not your face when they see you in the street. I don't want to take a subway to work or require reservations every time I go out. I am a country girl who loves country medicine. I don't know why it took me so long to come back to that, and accept it! 

So when I saw that I matched in rural family medicine, I thought..."Of course!!!" But I've forgiven myself for not knowing this a long time ago. I allowed myself to contemplate other areas of medical specialization to the furthest degree. When I said that I was going to just experience medical school and see what I liked, without preconceived ideas, I DID that. And this is where I ended up. It feels very full circle-ish to me. Now I get to do everything! Peds, obs, emerg, women's health, sports medicine, chronic disease management, surgical assist, palliative, hospitalist and down home family medicine. 

Some weird and wonderful things that have crossed my mind in the last day. 

I matched in the first program that I interviewed at. I adored the program, the people, the location. But I was guarded and wondered if part of my swoon was attributable to the fact that I was fresh and excited about interviews. I mean, initially I was so delighted with the place that I thought about not going to any other interviews. But then realised that would be a ridiculously bad idea for someone like me (a lowly IMG). I kept going back and comparing each subsequent program with that first one. Wondering.

When I was driving into the town (where I ended up matching) I came to a bridge and had a very strong sense that I would end up crossing this bridge a thousand times. I loved the look of it, I think partly because it reminded me of a bridge near my house where I grew up in Alberta. It was one of the few photos that I took during those two weeks of interviews, but it is my favorite. Looking at it, I can remember exactly that sense of predicted familiarity and how my heart had already started to feel tied to the place. It was strangely powerful and most unexpected.


Then last week, I had a dream that I matched to my program. In my dream I was shrieking and celebrating and telling myself that this was the perfect thing, and that I was so happy with the way things worked out. Of course when I woke up I felt the stress and worry creep back in as consciousness returned. The dream had been so vivid. That was where I wanted to go. What if I matched somewhere else?

I recently started on a new rotation with a congenial, fiercely intelligent, slightly quirky, banjo-playing dermatologist. When we met he asked what specialties I had interviewed for while I was in Canada. I told him, but I didn't say where in Canada any of these programs were. I told him about my previous life as a nurse in Nunavut and the NWT. A little while later he was introducing me to a patient and said, "This is ABB, she is going to be a family doctor in northern Saskatchewan". Now, again I will say that I hadn't told him where I was interviewing, and I have yet to find many Irish people who can even pronounce "Saskatchewan" let alone use it in a sentence. I mean, most Irish people know Ontario because their cousins always live in Toronto, and they've all been to Niagara Falls. Funny because it is true. So the comment from Dr. R threw me a little, but I didn't say anything to him about it, I just made a mental note. Innnterrrrresting. 

And now I am here. A little like a dog spinning around before he lies down. I still haven't fully grasped that the uncertainty, that has been hanging over me since I started on this journey over 5 years ago, has lifted.

I have a job as a doctor in Canada.

Let me just say that again on the off-chance that it sinks in.

I have a job as a doctor in Canada.

And it is a bloody good thing (as I am ~$250 000 in debt!) And an exciting thing. I am beyond grateful and excited to start on July 1st. I feel like I've been in the starting blocks for years. As a nurse I hoped some day I would become a doctor, and then as a medical student I had to deal with being slightly taken away from direct patient care. Mostly watching others do the nursing and doctoring. I've been striving, waiting, chomping at the bit for this responsibility.

This past week especially I've had a most distractible mind. My normal regime of night-before ironed work clothes, packed lunches and leisurely breakfasts has disintegrated to eating dry cereal and turning my underwear inside out instead of finding time for laundry...

But tonight I eased myself back into life. I cooked a delicious pot of veggie chilli, did loads of laundry, and sat down to write this post. The lack of sleep last night is catching up with me but I am happy.

It seems I've gradually started living my way into the answers. I cannot believe that I can actually say,

"I am going to be a rural GP!"

At the risk of extending this stream-of-ramblingness any more I just want to also say that over the years this blog has given me a great outlet and a wonderful connection to people all over the world. Even when I've felt like a tiny medical student, hidden away in a dark study room for weeks at a time, I felt connected to the people that read and commented, or took the time to write. I have made great friends and kept in touch with old ones through Asystole and I feel like it has given me many gifts on this wild ride.

And so writing this post for those of you that have been following along, gives me so much pleasure! Thank you all for the words of encouragement, advice, offer of cars, couches, lifts from the airport...for mailing forgotten bathing suits, buying me giant soup pots, sending mugs, meeting me at airports, buying me lunch and even the odd train ticket.

Expect the unexpected. Or maybe what was right in front of you the whole time.


51 comments:

RH said...

Congratulations and thank you for sharing your journey - the ups, downs, and sheer awesomeness with us.

Aunt Murry said...

I can't believe I get to be first!!
Congratulations!

Just Me said...

CONGRATULATIONS!

mullberrywhine said...

Congrats!!!!

Old MD Girl said...

Congratulations! I knew it would work out for you.

rural_obgyn said...

Have enjoyed reading your adventures for the last few years and it's wonderful to hear that you have a job as a doctor in Canada! You will be able to do it all! Many congratulations.

Katherine said...

Yay, congratulations!! I'm so glad everything has seemed to come full circle and you will be practicing where you feel most comfortable. (I'm a fourth year med student in the US who's really enjoyed hearing your journey!) Good for you!!

Anne said...

Wonderful! I've loved reading about your journey and am so happy you've found your match.

Elizabeth Shouldice said...

Our specialty is so lucky to have you, ABB. Welcome. With open arms. So, so, so very proud of you and mostly happy for your every success.

S said...

Amazing, amazing news!! The best of luck to you as you embark on this brand new journey, Dr. BlackBear!

Grumpy, M.D. said...

That is awesome. Mazel Tov, DOCTOR!

notterriblyordinary said...

Congratulations, ABB! Your future career will suit you well. I got a little teary reading this because it reminded me of my own journey to the career I love and of my own match day 7 years ago. I've been reading your blog for a long time now and I have to say that I'm so proud of you. Enjoy what you have left of medical school (almost done!) and I can't wait to read about your next adventure!

doctorcalm said...

Beautifully written dear ABB! Love this post, love your match and love you!

Helen said...

Hooray hooray hooray! I've never commented before - but you are so inspirational and your blog is so un-egotistical and non-elitist(are those even words?? - you know what I mean!!) SO happy for you - thank you for all your honesty, your soul and your humour! You'd better not stop blogging now you're a bad ass rural GP!! From away down under in NZ

Ryan said...

Fantastic!! Congratulations, it sounds like a great fit for you. Glad to have you back in Canada.

Mrs. Higrens said...

Congratulations!

Justin said...

Holy CRAP, congratulations! I got a seriously great thrill in my stomach when I read the title of this post. I'm so happy for you!!!!!

Shrtstormtrooper said...

Congratulations! It makes me happy to read that you are so happy.

I can safely say that you're someone I would want to have as my doctor - someone with a true passion for what they are doing. Thanks for sharing your journey so far.

Cara said...

Congratulations! I am so happy for you!
I'd love to work alongside you, you have a genuine heart and humility that surpass even your intelligence and ambition. A rare thing, and I'm jealous that rural northern Sask gets you and not rural northern AB.
Please dot stop blogging I would miss your stories and perspectives!

audare said...

Congratulations Congratulations Congratulations! I hope that as you move forward with your awesome journey that you'll continue to keep the blogosphere informed! As a 2nd year non traditional medical student your blog has given me much inspiration and hope. Thank you! So happy for you!

OldSquid said...

good on ya!

EMT GFP said...

Congratulations! It so go to hear everything turned out just as it needed to be AND what you wanted! Glad to hear your journey was well worth it (encouragement for the first year med student here about to embark upon neuro lectures!)

Ms. Donna said...

Congrats! Yes, there will be problems ahead, but try to remember how happy you are today!

medschoolodyssey said...

Congratulations! Glad to see you found something you're going to enjoy. I'm envious.

Christopher said...

Congratulations!! Very happy for you.

Bean said...

So so happy for you and for all of the lucky patients and families who will be cared for you. You bring so much of yourself to your practice and that energy, honesty and spirit will do as much to benefit your patients as all of your hard-earned knowledge. I have loved reading your blog and I know that this is just the beginning of a great new adventure. Best of luck and keep writing! You have a book in you my friend-some day when you have a little more time to reflect. xoxo Julie RN and Onc NP

Unknown said...

Congrats, Ms. ABB. If I ever gash myself on the sharp end of a moose in NW Sas., I hope you're there to stitch me up.

- Tom

Ellen said...

Congratulations!

medaholic said...

Congratulations! Rural Family is an great specialty and welcome back to Canada!!!!!!

Miracle Max said...

Congratulations, and thank you for bringing us along for the ride. It has been inspiring to read your honest and emotional journey through this blog. I hope one day to read the paperback Harper - Collins version. Until then I have to say Canada's lucky to have you back.

Good Luck in all that lies ahead.

- Ian

PGYx said...

Congratulations! Agree with what OMDG said. :-)
Your program is very lucky to have you on board!

erjedi.com said...

Put your hand up to the screen for an internet fist bump. Aw yeah.

Research said...

Wonderful news and congratulations! I have to say I'm a bit envious of northern Saskatchewan right now.

BTW, Duncan??? We need another post soon.

Helen said...

I've never commented before, but this post mirrored so closely my own journey to a general law practice in a rural community (I start in August!) that I had to say congratulations. I, too, poked about in different areas of practice before finally coming back to the facts that had been staring me in the face the whole time, just waiting for me to realize where I needed to be.

You're going to have a wonderful time!

KarateSocks said...

congrats! Match week for us in the USA is next week, so I'm still on pins and needles about matching.

MDToBe said...

Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! After years of reading about your awesomeness, I'm so pleased you got everything you could ever want!!

Verena B said...

I LOVED this post ABB! Loved the serendipity of the familiar bridge and being introduced as someone who will be working in Saskatchewan before you even knew where you were going. This post gave me little shivers up my back and it was just what I needed to read. Big smile. Big hugs.

Wren said...

I'm so pleased for you, ABB. I've been reading your blog for years now, checking in once a week or so. I'm not involved in medicine at all, except for being a patient. But your writing, your enthusiasm and your joy in learning have kept me reading--and learning myself. I live in California, but I have Finnish-Canadian relatives in Saskatchewan. I've been there just once, as a child, but I'll never forget the experience.

Again, congratulations, doctor!

Cthetree said...

Congratulations! Like many fellow commenters, I was so happy to read you had matched!

I've been following your experiences for a while, and it's been so helpful to me in helping me make my own plans and goals. I wish you all the success in your JOB as a DOCTOR back in Canada!!

Please keep blogging (when you have time), you're an inspiration :)

Lisa said...

When I opened your page and saw the words "I MATCHED!!", I thought, Yippee!! Congratulations -- very happy for you!

m rana said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Liana said...

Very happy for you! Hope to see you one day at a rural med conference or elsewhere... Give my love to Saskatchewan.

Hadlington said...

Congratulations! If I'm ever attacked by a poisonous snake down under I will hop on a plane to Northern Saskatchewan to ensure the best rural medical care available. (*By poisonous snake, I mean poisonous snake. **By "down under" I mean "in Australia".)

Susan Green said...

Congratulations, I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures and am so pleased for you. From an Irish reader who has no relatives in Toronto, has never been to Niagra Falls, but can pronounce Saskatchewan!

Internal Optimist said...

Congratulations on your match! Sounds like you are really excited about it :)

Western Rain said...

Amazing!! I am sooo very happy for you Dr. ABB. and very happy for the people of your little rural town. If you ever get a chance to come back to the coast for a bit of kayaking the same couch will be waiting for you here.
Once again, Congrats and welcome home.

Heather said...

Aaaaa! OMGOMG that is FABULOUS! Congratulations ABG!

bobbie said...

I'm a little late to the party, but CONGRATULATIONS!!!

mccannmedia said...

Hearing your story come full-circle is really reassuring to me! I am a student now and am also going through the experience of loving everything that I try, and not knowing how I'll ever decide what to do. I'm glad to see it play out so well for you!

drottematic said...

I think you knew it - rural GP - all along :)

I think we knew it (probably).

So now I am just so excited for you that it _is_!

Cartoon Characters said...

Congratulations!

I have been out of the blog world for a while, just started back again with my new diagnoses....so catching up on all the blogs I used to read.

Visited Dublin Ireland a year ago, loved it.
Wish I could go back and visit County Cavan where my family hails from.