Today is a very special day for me. Today marks 10 years since I moved to the United States. The photo above is me and my brothers on the airport as we said goodbye to our family, friends, and our island. I remember it like it was yesterday, staring outside the airplane window as the plane lifted and watching St. Martin become smaller and smaller in the distance.
We knew moving was a sacrifice for bigger and better opportunities but none of us knew how amazing those opportunities would be. Fast forward, and on this day 10 years later and I am sitting in Harvard Medical School lecture hall in orientation for the next year of my medical school journey: being off to the hospital and clinical rotations at some of the best hospitals in the nation.
While at home on the island earlier this year, I brought my white coat - a symbol of my dedication to medicine and humanity. Here I am, standing in front of my neighborhood clinics in St. Martin with my Harvard white coat. A clinic I would go to as a kid, having no clue or even dream that I would one day be a doctor - and doing it at the top school. It gives me goosebumps every time I think about it.
In this blog post, I'm excited to share what clinical rotations are, what my schedule is, how I am feeling and preparing and ways people can support me as I enter this next year.
Starting Clinical Rotations
Next week I begin my Principal Clinical Experience (PCE) at Harvard Medical School. This is known as my clerkship year or clinical rotation year - there are different names for it at different medical schools but it is all the same idea. So what are clerkships in medical school?
In medical school, the first part of programs is more similar to undergraduate classes as far as being in a classroom or in lectures and learning about topics and then taking exams. This is known as the Preclinical Curriculum here at Harvard. As the name says, this was all my "preclinical" training. For the past 11 months, I have been in the classroom learning the physiology and pathophysiology of cardiology, pulmonology, renal, neurology, and more. It has been a fantastic year - now it is time to leave the classroom and enter the hospital.
Clerkship year in medical school is a year where every medical student rotates through various medical specialties. The rotations are:
Internal Medicine - this speciality is broad field of adult medicine that comprises almost every organ system such as cardiology, pulmonary, infectious diseases, hematology and more.
Pediatric Medicine - this is all medicine but for the kiddos! There are also subspecialties as the ones listen above, but with focus on treating kids from birth to young adulthood. I'll spend this rotation at THE Boston Children's and I'm really excited!
Obstetrics and Gynecology - this specialty is both obstetrics which is care for pregnancy and labor and delivery and gynecology which is medical and surgical care for the female system. This is the field I am most interested in and I get to learn at the #1 OB/GYN program in the nation!
Neurology - this speciality is the field that focuses on the nervous system! This includes managing disorders such as seizure, movement disorders, stroke, headaches, and more.
Psychiatry - this is all about mental disorders which affect mood, perceptions and behavior. For this rotation I'll be at McLean Hospital, the number 1 psych hospital!
Surgery - this rotation is all about being in the operating room! There are many many subspecialties as well and I am excited to scrub into my first surgery!
Radiology - this is the study of diagnostic imaging, this will give me exposure with film reading and clinical imaging.
Primary Care - as part of my next year, I will be placed in a clinic as part of my Primary Care Clerkship. This will be a longitudinal experience in which I am in clinic 2-3 times a month.
What Is My Clinical Rotation Schedule?
September 26th 2023 - December 17th 2023
January 3rd 2024 - February 11th 2024
February 12th 2024 - March 24th 2024
April 1st 2024 - April 28th 2024
April 29th 2024 - May 26th 2024
May 28th 2024 - June 23rd 2024
July 1st 2024 - September 22nd 2024
I am so pleased with my schedule! Here at HMS, our schedule's are randomized and a few weeks ago I found out my schedule for the next year. As you see, each rotation is different timing. The 12 week rotations are internal medicine and surgery, I have 6 weeks on pediatrics, Ob/Gyn, and four weeks on radiology, psychiatry, and neurology. And my Primary Care clerkship is throughout the entire year.
What will my days look like?
The challenging part of the next year for me is that the hours will be long and the days will be changing rapidly. I basically have shared to my family and friends that my life will be mostly the hospital for the next year. In addition, on each rotation I take an exam called the Shelf exam at the end of the rotation. This exam is a standardized exam that tests my knowledge on the field of medicine I am rotating on. This means that along with being in the hospital, I will be studying for these exams when I get home or on the weekends.
What also will make these days challenging is that I am rotating through different teams. Imagine starting a new job, but you're starting a new job every few weeks. I've been told this is one of the things to get used to, quickly adjusting to new teams, specialities, and hospital sites will be difficult but I am sure it will make me a more flexible person in the long run.
My first rotation is internal medicine and the first part will be the Integrated Teaching Unit on inpatient medicine where I'll be working on a team of attending, residents, interns, and one other medical student. I'll begin each day at 7am for sign out from the night team and pre rounding, have rounds in the morning, case conference at noon, and then doing tasks for patients, didactics, and being taught from my team in the afternoon. So the typical day is going to be about 7am to 4pm and then going home to study for my Shelf exam, read up on my patients, take care of myself, and get ready for the next day. One week I will be on the "Twilight service" and those hours will be 4pm to 11pm. I am thankful to not have any weekends or call shifts at this time - because yes medical students do go on call and have weekend shifts and that might be my schedule on different rotations.
How Am I Feeling?
Honestly...I am feeling so excited about this next year. I am going to learn SO much from the residents and attending I'll have the honor to work with and the patients I'll have the privilege to take care off and learn from. This is truly such an amazing experience to see all these different specialties and learn this much medicine. For many of the experiences I have it may be the first and last time I ever do it or see it - like delivering babies, being in the OR, overnight shifts in the ED. I just feel so blessed to be in this position to learn.
What I have been nervous about is getting burnt out and not being able to take care of myself. We joke at Harvard that we "don't see the 2nd years" because once they head off to the hospitals that is all their life becomes. Or I hear people currently in the PCE year talk about not being able to talk with family, or have time for self-care, missing family events, or having laundry and dishes pile up....yeah that scares me.
I've made it a real purpose this year to have balance in my life, I think a key thing I keep in mind is that my goal is to be the best doctor I can be for my patients. And I can't be that doctor without taking care of myself. I know I will work as hard as I can and do the best I can to give the best care to patients - that is why I am in medicine! So I hope I can find the routines and self-care strategies to best care for me.
I think part of that will be having to be selfish this year. As much as I love to mentor, or host people, or offer help I need to use the free time I do have to make sure I am taking care of myself and make sure I am on top of my learning to pass my exams and learn the medicine I need to. I am thankful for people in my corner who are understanding and supportive as I make this shift over to the clinical world and move through these rotations for the next year.
Supporting My Next Steps
There are a lot of recourses needed to help me succeed as I move forward, so I made an amazon wishlist for anyone who would like to support my journey.
Other than this list, you can support me by keeping me in your prayers! To my friends, I'm not always the best at saying that I need help - so please check in if you haven't heard from me in a while. Those simple actions truly mean so much!
I am so excited as I look to my future - this next year is going to be one of the most challenging but I know one of the most rewarding of my life thus far. I know with God's grace and the love and support I have around me, I will not only survive but thrive this year.
My first year of medical school taught me so much - not only learning so much pathophysiology in one year - but I learned so much about myself. Medicine is truly a beautiful field, and being able to comfort, cure, and care for a patient makes this all worth it. I am excited to see what speciality I'll be interested in when this year is done and how much I am going to learn.
Thank you for following along on this journey of becoming Dr. Kye.
Up next....Brigham and Women's hospital!