Sunday, July 25, 2010


"I'll be in the student lounge studying all week" is a common statement to hear from my classmates, especially the week before an exam. However, hearing it from a classmate today, TODAY which is still SUMMER vacation, a week before classes even begin for the year, was like a punch to the stomach. That's it, I am an underachiever. But I am not. I am just seizing the opportunity to spend the summer free of studying; though not free of: clinical research, shadowing physicians, planning extra curricular programing for the fall, and remembering what if feels like to be a real human being in the multidisciplinary outside world.

I WILL enjoy my last week of summer and I will not let my peers make me feel like an underachiever. My challenge this year is going to be finding a way not to compare myself to my classmates. I need to do the best I can for myself and my future patients. Spending hours agonizing over how much they are studying, the amount of details they seem to retain that I don't. and comparing exam scores will not help. In fact, I'm pretty sure such things would make me go insane. Me going insane? Well, that wouldn't be good for anyone involved.

Friday, July 23, 2010

All good things must come to an end

Today was my last day of work, wrapping up a summer spent researching in a city that I love. I was fortunate enough to spend the last 8 weeks surrounded by big brains in long white coats who happen to also have very big hearts. Half my time was spent in front of a computer screen: analyzing data, researching prior literature, writing, and rewriting. The other half of my time? That was a mixture of shadowing in clinic, getting into theoretical and hysterical conversations with my coworkers, and collecting mentors as if they were baseball cards.

After all, medicine still is an old boys network, with an emphasis on the network part. Being here, in the city that I love, surrounded by forward thinking and well established medical providers gave me an opportunity to begin forming my network. While my PI may be the only one that I keep in touch with, sitting across a table with so many fabulous physicians has given me the opportunity to begin envisioning MY future as a physician. Scary and exciting at the same time.

While only I time will tell if I get a publication of this summer, I am already aware that I gained so much from this experience. As I prepare to go back down south I am making sure to pack these moments of inspiration as I am sure going to need them getting through the forthcoming uphill journey. One such pearl of wisdom is the following quote "It is your job as a physician to take care of your patients and then pursue the things that interest you. It doesn't matter how many papers you write or how many awards you win." As school starts up again, and times get stressful, I need to remember why I am doing this: my future patients and my interests.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

seems to be the summer of sex talk*

Through a conversation about Dr. Richardson & Dr. Schuster's book Everything you NEVER wanted your kids to know about SEX (but were afraid they'd ask), my coworker and I got into a very long discussion about sex, power, and knowledge. Somewhere in the conversation we derived that knowledge may in fact be what holds us captive. Without knowledge, we're able to enjoy inherent and simple pleasures: food, shelter, sex. When knowledge increases so do more complex emotions: stress, anxiety, worry, doubt, fear, etc.

In fact, we decided that as a species, an orgasm is the most intrinsic and intense emotion we can experience. It carries with it huge amounts of power for humans to realize what we are each individually capable of. Through knowledge, and through the learned experience of sex being shameful and secretive, that power is negated and control centralized to an outside authority. Here is where discussion turned to Adam & Eve, original sin, and religion as a whole. From there it continued to spiral into sociology, philosophy, and literature.

The conundrum: without knowledge, would we even enjoy sex (and all the other intrinsic simple pleasures) in the same way?

The point of all of this is simple that I am loving my summer. I miss this kind of liberal arts discourse that used to occupy my life pre-med school. Oh, and that EVERYONE needs to read the above mentioned book. Especially all of you parents and future-parents. I promise that it will screw with your thoughts some and make you question everything you thought you knew/believed.

*One of my research papers I have been working on this summer is about adolescents and sex. I blame it, and the necessary lit review, for fueling a lot of the conversations I have been having this summer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"The New Abortion Providers"

This is an article from the New York Times Magazine, July 12 2010. The role of this "new" provider speaks to the model of a women's health physician I hope to be .

Monday, July 12, 2010

"so how are you going to save the world?"

A conversation I had with a friend today:Friend: so how are you going to save the world?me: through sexual and reproductive health, you?
Friend: probably the samecool
we can work together
me: sweet

Another friend who plans to save the world (through similar means) came to visit this weekend. She is not someone who I have known for very long, but has already made a significant difference in my life. We talked for hours about sexual health, medical education, our own values and beliefs, and our intentions to make a difference. We also brainstormed creating a future medical practice together: reaching out to all ages and all genders, to all people regardless of background and means, and making sure to especially focus on comprehensive primary care and meeting all sexual health needs. Her experience and wisdom challenges and inspires me.

I pray that friends like these stay present in my life. In quoting captain planet: "with our powers combine..." we really can save the world.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

decision making

I hate making decisions. As much as I make it a rule not to regret the choices I make, I loath the process of deciding in the first place. However, I realized tonight that I have a very clear, and very analytic, pattern for making decisions. This realization came through the weekly process of making shabbos plans. It doesn't matter how small or large the decision is, the process is pretty much always the same. My pattern goes like this:

1) identify the problem (shit! it's already wednesday night and I don't have shabbos plans yet!)

2) data collection (what minyans are meeting this weekend? where are options for meals? what are other people doing? what combination can i make from my options? what are the logistical needs of each possible combination?)

3) contemplation (how exhausted am i from the week? what does my following week look like? do i feel the need to hide and sleep this shabbos or would i rather it to be very social? do i have an academic obligations that I need to negotiate?)

4) more data collection (filling in gaps of information, seeking out necessary parts to fill in the plan such as finding a place to crash a meal)

5) more contemplation (with a complete idea of what the option is, is it one that i am okay with? would I rather something else? is that something else even possible?)

6) procrastination (after all, it is only wednesday night... i really don't need to decided until thursday night or possibly even friday morning. plus if i wait long enough, maybe someone will make the decision for me)

Monday, July 5, 2010

MUST read

Stop what you're doing. Go read This Common Secret by Susan Wicklund. Go do it NOW. After you are done, report back on your thoughts. Discuss it with your friends, sisters, mothers and grandmothers. I, for one, will be sending a copy to my mom and grandma. Include the males in your life into these discussions too.

For abortion to stay legal, safe, and accessible in this country, in our country, we NEED to be having these discussions. Only through dialogue can we overcome the taboo and fallacies associated with this very common (and relatively simple) medical procedure. Only then will we do away with the guilt, shame, and everything else negative associated... will we let women truly be free and healthy in their bodies (and will we increase the number of new doctors coming out willing to practice abortion, which is one of the biggest problems).

After all, 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion. Let us do our part to ensure that they are safe, accessible and non-stigmatized as they should be.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The value of a mentor

I had coffee with one of my college advisers after work last week. I showed up in work clothes: slacks, a blouse, real shoes, face painted in makeup. She was in jeans and a t-shirt. Our costumes illustrated the swapping of roles, and one of the things she said to me: "you're going to be the one who carries this movement forward; who shapes the movement in the future." Whoa!

This is coming from a woman who is the definition of 2nd wave feminism. She has made a very tangible difference through her activism, organizing, coalition building, teaching, and mentoring. My first year in college she planted a seed in me, as she did with so many others. She has helped us nurture these seedlings; helped us develop our own voices and find our own paths towards making a difference in this world. Sitting down with her to talk global health, reproductive choice, activism, and gossip about our lives allowed a metric to measure my development. It made clear how much she has inspired me and how much her confidence in me has allowed me to believe in myself.

A huge part of me knows she is right. I am, along with so many others, going to be involved in moving women's health activism forward. Whether I would have done it anyhow, or because I now feel that her statement carries an official decree which means I now HAVE to, does not matter. And that is one of the intrinsic beauties of a trust-worthy, long-time mentor: blurred lines between shared visions and confidence boosters in the form of factual statements.