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Thursday, December 27, 2018


I don't talk too much about my husband and our relationship on this blog. For one, its because he is a fairly private person (other than Facebook messenger and LinkedIn, he has no social media) and the other is because marriage is complicated and hard and wonderful and messy and fun and I just think its way too beyond the scope of this blog, so I just leave it all out.

But I couldn't help but share and gush about the amazing gifts he got me for Christmas. He usually gets me good gifts, however often with my input (literally would tell him what I'd like and he gets it or tells me to just go ahead and order it). However this year he totally surprised me. He told me a couple months ago he thought of a great gift for me but I didn't think too much of it because usually when he says something like that, it ends up being a gag of some sort.

He got me a stethoscope and an otoscope. I'm only in my second year of med school and sometimes still can't believe its all real. And he will often joke with me about "whoa there you're not a doctor yet!" whenever I discuss anything medical with someone (or tell him what he should or shouldn't be doing haha). But it touched me. Not just because of what it means to me but the effort he went to to get it. He did bunch of research on the specific items he got me, he contacted my mom and let her in on it (he ordered everything to my parents house) and kept her updated on delivery etc. And I had no idea.

My husband wasn't the only one to get me a thoughtful medical gift. My sister also got me this awesome poster, which I can't wait to have framed. She told me there is a whole serious of these and if I like them, she will get me the others for other occasions. I'm so excited!

My other sister and parents also got me some great stuff and I just feel so loved and lucky. I really do have it all.

Monday, December 17, 2018

7 years ago...

I was chatting about my blog with a classmate recently who mentioned to me that she reads it regularly. I was touched and for some reason it prompted me to look back at my very first post. A post that I entitled "A Journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step" and made me realize how far I've come. And how aptly named that first post was, written over seven years ago.

I then skimmed through some other posts and I realized, man I've definitely taken a LOT of steps since then, and not all of them forward. Some were backwards, some were lateral. I reminded myself of all the mistakes I made, the set backs, the times I really felt that it was all over. Then the resurgence of hope, the new plan, the renewed motivation and the steps forward.

And I'm HERE. I'm doing this thing that I wanted to do so badly and I'm so happy. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. For my parents who were so supportive - financially, emotionally. For my husband for putting up with me during the setbacks and for being the one who actually convinced me to try in Poland - and then moving half way across the world to a country where he doesn't even speak the language so I could pursue this. For my sisters and my friends who have encouraged me and supported me and who continue to listen to my stories, who let me vent and cry to and share my victories with. For my kids who just accept it as normal that mummy has to go to school too.

The intense privilege I have is not lost on me though and it motivates me to think about how I can help others who want to do this but are less fortunate than I am, in the future.

Lots of challenges still face me. I've realized that as my children get older, I face different challenges with parenting and figuring out how to balance that with my career as a student and later a practicing physician. Figuring out the best option for post-graduate medical training and then getting in. And the countless exams that I have to still write.

But I wouldn't change anything, wouldn't change one minute of what I've experienced.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Attention med students!

Even though I'm in medical school in Europe, there is a lot of similarity in the course curriculum when I compare to Canadian medical schools and US medical schools. The main difference is that our program is spread out over 6 years and you can start right out of high school.

One of those courses is Anatomy. And in our program, it's the single most important course we take during medical school because if you fail anatomy, you fail the first year of medical school even if you've passed every other course. They use the course to weed people out (a lot of people do end up dropping out when they fail). If you've read this blog, you'd know how stressed out I was by this course (even though I loved it)! I've never felt a greater relief in my life than when I found out I passed.

Recently two of my classmates (and friends!) started a wonderful Facebook and Instagram page, called AnatomyWithA&D, with the goal of helping students studying anatomy in a fun way. It's a great combo of informative, academic posts and practical applications of anatomy, tips on how to best study and much more. And the two founders know what they are talking about - they had the highest marks in anatomy in my year and they were selected to represent our program at a national anatomy competition, called the Golden Scapula.

Anyway, I highly, highly recommend you check them out and follow!

You can find them on Instagram here and on Facebook here. Go and check them out!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Today is my daughter's 3rd birthday and I'm missing it. I have a fairly important exam early tomorrow morning and decided to stay in the city overnight to study for it and so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn just to make it on time.

I do feel a bit guilty about it because its her birthday and also because she's sick. She developed a nasty case of pink-eye yesterday and I had to take her to urgent care to get the antibiotic drops she needed. I thought I would be in and out but there were 31 pediatric patients ahead of us! We were there for almost three hours. I had planned on doing some studying yesterday but that pretty much went out the window because of the visit.

But I'm not going to beat myself up about it too much because we actually celebrated her birthday last week when my in-laws were here and thats when we did cake and presents. Still, it tugs on my heart a little to know that I'm not there.

Man though, its a bit of a foreshadow of what I'm going to miss when I start residency. I know thats still a ways away but it really makes me that much more determined to try and do it in Canada so at least I can do it in two years. And makes me that much more determined to do family medicine.

And I'm excited because the family medicine residency program where I want to do it the most states on their website that they have 9 residency spots and 2 of those go to IMGs! I didn't realize they actually allocate those spots, I just assumed that the CMGs get first pick and then if they are left over, then I can apply. But it looks like I may actually be able to try for dedicated spots.

Monday, December 3, 2018


Last week I attended a presentation on how to pursue a medical residency in the USA. I'm not considering the USA but I wanted to know about the process because the process in Canada is very similar.

And side note, I learned that the process in Canada isn't quite as daunting as I had originally thought. I was under the (mistaken) impression that the return of service requirement would mean that I would be sent to some undesirable place to work off the cost of my residency training. But actually there are just some restrictions as to where I can't work - which in Ontario would be Toronto, the GTA and Ottawa. It means that I could potentially get to go back to my hometown! I mean, I'd still be under requirement to fulfill the 5 year return of service agreement, but I'd have some control over where that would be.

Its changed my whole outlook on residency and my plans. Up to now, the plan had been to gun for the UK. But with Brexit, everything is up in the air and I have no idea how the UK leaving the EU will impact me. It's not urgent because I still have 5 years to go and hopefully things will settle before it's my time to apply. Still, I hate the uncertainty.

Anyway, since learning that there is a chance of coming back to Canada - albeit still very tough as only about 20% of IMGs were successful in matching, in Ontario at least - I'm trying to plan my experience here in a way that would facilitate my chances.

First stop will be meeting up with my former family doctor. In addition to having a practice, he is a part-time professor at McMaster in family medicine and takes students in to his practice all the time to shadow him etc. He also has a TON of contacts in the town where I'd love to do residency in. I'm hoping I'll be able to see him when we visit my family over Christmas.

I'm not getting my hopes up too much but I'm excited that I have some thing to shoot for.

Which leads me back to the presentation on getting to the US. In addition to wanting to know the process for the US because its similar to Canada (academic requirements, match system etc), I also started a Facebook group for students and alumni from my school to help us with the process of applying to English speaking residencies. One thing about my school is that while I believe that we will be prepared with the medical know-how to be able to do residency adequately (and this has been confirmed by multiple successful alumni), they leave us to completely fend for ourselves with the post-grad process. It's alarming how many students are completely unprepared for what comes after medical school and even worse, have no idea. Like they think that the MD they will have will suddenly open all the doors for them, and that's just not the case.

Anyway, I started the group and wanted to go to the presentation so I could report back and share the knowledge. And I learned a lot! One of the things it made me realize is that I need to get my butt on to some meaningful volunteer and extracurricular work and look into getting involved in some research. I had given myself grace for my first year to just focus on passing and making the transition as easy as possible for my family, but now its time to starting thinking about what I need to do to make myself a strong candidate.

Research is something I'd LOVE to get into and one of the women at the presentation gave me some great tips on how to look for opportunities, because its one thing I had no idea about how to go about doing. So today I emailed a teacher of a course I took last year that I enjoyed and asked if there are any opportunities for research with her department.


In other news, December looks like it will be a fairly stress-less month. I have a pretty important exam from biochemistry and our Ethics final exam but otherwise things are winding down a bit and I have a lot of free time.