Monday, December 31, 2012

As the year ends...

I'm curious to see what the final number tallies are for the year at Duke surg path, autopsy, and the VA. We used to do an unofficial betting pool where I worked before (and I'm sure they still do) for the various specimen types to see where they would end up. Always nice to see the business growing from year to year, especially for the veterinary practice which went up significantly in the time I worked there.

I'm hoping, in the new year, that there will be a spate of job openings scattered around the US. There are always positions available in California and New York and one or two in Texas. But otherwise it is hit or miss as to where there is an opening. Right now, we're being selective about where we want to end up so I'm just keeping an eye on openings for the ones that are interesting in the areas we wouldn't mind living.

The spring semester will be interesting. We'll be seeing the first years in January and even having a class with them, which will be a good chance to actually interact with them. And one of the autopsy PAs is having us all over for a party sometime in January (oh, I just winced because I've been meaning to, but haven't actually, have a dinner party for... months now), also good.

I'm having a very relaxing break. I've gone to the movies, taken kids on so many outings (tomorrow, we're going to explore more parks in Durham), traveled a bit around North Carolina, walked the dog, cooked a little, and slept a lot. My husband has been in town so we've had a decent chunk of time spent together as a nuclear family, but it'll be hard tomorrow when he goes back to work in South Carolina (and takes my dog).

Friday, December 28, 2012

December was busy...

And I have been awful about blogging.

Christmas preparations and catching up on two rotations worth of autopsy reports really limited my free time.

I found that I like writing clinical histories, but I feel less sure of myself when writing up the PAD. It is much easier when there is a readily identifiable cause of death and much more tedious when there is not... I'm sure it is one of those things that gets easier with practice. I'm still intimidated by doing the microscopic part of the diagnosis, but it isn't something they throw us into without any help. I will find out in mid-January when I go back to autopsy.

My week at Duke before the break was pretty good. I had a nice variety of complex specimens and felt pretty good about my comfort level with them.

But that is all done now and I've been enjoying a nice Christmas week. My mom has been living with us for two weeks, which meant that 5 out of 7 of the people in my immediate family were in Hillsborough so we had Christmas here this year. My husband came up last Friday and my sister just started a new job this year and as the newest employee ended up being the one to cover Christmas (the downside of being an OB/GYN is that you can't exactly schedule when doctors are needed) so we had to make do with phone calls and mailing presents in advance. It was strange before the break when people asked me if I was going home for Christmas and I pointed out that I basically live here now... It is different for other people who have extended families and roots elsewhere, but for me Durham (well technically Hillsborough) is home.

I spent some of the start of my break in Asheville visiting friends and wandering downtown, then my husband and I went on a post-Christmas mini-trip for two to Raleigh. It was nice to have quiet time and the freedom to wander around downtown and explore. We hit up the Edward Munch exhibit at the art museum and my husband found a new favorite bar, The Raleigh Times, which had an extensive beer menu, extremely friendly bartenders, and an interesting interior layout (they have a history of the building on their website). We have plans to go back to the art museum with the children at some point, and maybe check out the state history museum as well. As close as Raleigh actually is, we're spoiled and it seems like such a chore to drive the extra 20 minutes when Durham is so close and there are so many things to do here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So overdue for an update...

I'm winding down three weeks at the VA. It has been a productive few weeks, and I've had lots of chances to do frozens. It is always interesting when I've been away from the VA and haven't been doing them... It is inevitable that my first case after being away is one where the surgeon walks it down to the gross room and sits there waiting for the frozen to be done. Ah, stressful! But it is fine. After being back in the swing of things for a while, I feel comfortable that I can churn out some decent sections.

Plus, it is a useful rotation to be on for a while. I get to see the slides that my sections get turned into and pick up bits of knowledge from the attending pathologists and residents--and we're there with one of the nicest residents (most of our residents are pretty awesome, but she is just really exceptionally pleasant). The VA is a lot more like a regular hospital than Duke is, so it is good to get a mix of smalls and complex specimens instead of the high concentration of complex specimens that you get at a major academic medical center. 

Christmas trees make me happy!
Today was the Christmas party for the clinical labs and there was an enormous amount of food brought in. We snagged some on our way to our lunch time lecture, which was our penultimate class for this course. It has been one of those long weeks where we've had a morning class every morning and a lunch time lecture each day (except Monday). There's been a lot of going from the Duke clinics to the VA back to the clinics and then back to the VA. We take this walkway between the clinics on the way through Duke North when going between the clinics and the VA across the street that is lined with windows. One side looks out over the new center for medical education, the other is the Duke Medical Pavilion--both of which are under construction. Every day, every week, we can see it change. I like the idea of it... things have grown and evolved during our time at Duke and will be in their semi-final state by the time my class graduates (I say semi-final because it seems that hospitals are always changing, but I think they will be happy with the way things stand for a while after this construction wraps up. Although... I'm sure there's someone somewhere in the organization that is already projecting the needs of the hospital system for the next decade that's drafting a whole new set of blue prints for future classes to watch be erected.).

The Christmas party did take me off guard though. This year has just gone zipping past! Our fall semester is going to be wrapping up in just over a week. I feel like I've gotten to gross everything that I've wanted to do, which leaves the spring for refining those skills.

Second year is just so different from first year. I don't get to see our first years much unless I'm on autopsy, but I hope that they're doing well. They have another few days before their exams, but they are coming up quickly! And then they will get to be on rotations with us in January, everyone is looking forward to it. It will be good for them as well to get some hands on experience. January was really a high light of my first year and I think that is a pretty universal opinion.