Saturday, May 1, 2010


Yup, I am officially DONE with medical school. My graduation is in mid-May but in my mind I've already finished- yesterday was my last "working" day of med school.

I'm headed off to internship in a little over a month which is a scary thought. I matched into my top choice advanced program and one of my top choice prelim programs. To those of you reading the blog who aren't familiar with this terminology- "Internship" is the first year of residency which lasts from 3 (ie Internal medicine/ Family Practice) to 7 (ie neurosurgery) years. In "categorical" programs, internship is included, whereas in "advanced programs" it isn't, meaning, as in my case, you have to apply separately for a Preliminary year. Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology, Neurology, Dermatology, etc, are examples of programs that sometimes require a separate intern year.

It sucks because I have to move twice- but I'm happy with where I matched so it's worth it.

I had to take my illness into account when formulating my match list. Mania, or in my case, hypomania, can actually be triggered by lack of sleep. And, being that it is perfectly legal to work 30 hours in a row, take 10 hours off, and do the same thing again, I had to pick programs with more humane work schedules. Now what I described is rather extreme- the maximum allowed shift is actually 24 hours, but then you're allowed 6 hours (in some places it's 3) for tying up loose ends, etc. People refer to this as "24 + 6" but I'm like, "whatever, it's 30." One program I looked at basically informed applicants that interns who go over hours do so because they are inefficient. That, to me, implied that interns' time sheets likely have them working < 80 hours with no more than 24+6 in a row, while the actual interns are in the hospital longer than that. I didn't rank the program.

There are programs that have a "night float" system which means that there is, as it sounds, a night shift. This means fewer 24 hour shifts for residents. Even thought night float can turn your schedule upside down and mess up your circadian rhythms, I found this to be preferable to a program where I'd be required to work "24 +6" on a regular basis. Both my intern and residency programs have night float.

I also had to think of the prescription drug plans available. I don't see a psychiatrist a lot anymore- it is basically just for crises and medication management- BUT I do take very expensive medications. Seroquel is the worst offender. I REALLY LIKED one prelim program, but had to rank it very low on my list because the prescription coverage was 400 dollars a year. (!!) And, residents had the same health coverage as one of the hospital unions. So much for collective bargaining!

I'm excited about moving on, but also a little sad because I'm leaving the house I've lived in for 4 years. I'll miss my roommates.


shale said...

Congratulations!! Please keep posting, I'd like to know how intern year and residency goes. Good Luck!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Your blog has been a real inspiration to me (I'm also bipolar and in med school). Please keep updating with how residency goes.

Victoria said...

Congratulations, Emily!
…and thank you so much for sharing your experience. I found your blog while looking for bipolar success stories and yours is definitely an inspiring one.

Anonymous said...

I have bipolar disorder and am just starting my first year. Although I've been stable for a couple of years now, I'm still nervous about staying on track. I appreciate your blog as it is the first time I've heard of anyone else admitting to being bipolar and in medical school. I will look through your blog for advice and help whenever I need it.