I can’t believe that it is already time for a 2016 reflection post. 2016 was a controversial year. There were a lot of good times and some pretty bad ones. In my personal life it was probably the most stable one I’ve had in a while, since I am married, didn’t move locations, and didn’t change jobs. Looking back on the year I’m really filled with gratitude for the people I’ve met and the new experiences I was fortunate to have.
YOU YOU YOU!
First and foremost, I’m thankful for YOU. Thank you for embarking on this medical journey with me. I started this blog in medical school as a requirement during my year off in medical journalism, and it has grown to be a big part of me. I love hearing from all of you, whether you’re sharing details of your day with me or a question you have about skincare. I feel privileged to interact with you and share in parts of your life too, whether you’re in medicine or not. Let’s continue to build and grow our little community in 2017!
I have always been cautious about over-sharing on social media but this year in January I published a very personal post about my match process. I wanted to share that though life looks glamorous on social media, we ALL go through moments of doubt and insecurity. You aren’t alone and I hope that we can all support each other through the hardships we face in pursuing this path. I want an honest part of my life to be revealed through this online space, and that means sharing the good and the bad.
This year I was able to cross a few things off my bucket list, including Munich and the Sleeping Beauty castle (Neuschwanstein), Puerto Rico, and Paris. I also got to go home to LA (yes Disneyland!) and San Francisco four times and explored Nashville with my best friends from medical school. I’m addicted to traveling and indulging in new sights, foods, and experiences, and I want to take full advantage of NYC’s proximity to Europe next year! For all of you who have time off like summer or winter vacation, travel and go explore. I like using Airbnb, which tend to be cheaper than hotels, and finding travel deals and routes through cute travel blogs.
Last year was a lot of adjustments, settling into dermatology residency and learning a whole new field. I’m not going to lie, it was very hard and overwhelming at first. There’s so many books and resources I don’t even know where to start (derm book essentials here, now that I have my favorites) I felt like I was back in first year of medical school again when I was drinking out of a fire hose and I didn’t even understand all the terms discussed in lecture. Now that I’m a second year dermatology resident I feel a LOT more comfortable. I thought I would never learn this whole new language but now that I’m hearing and studying everything for the second time, everything has become more manageable. Because studying is easier (I’m not having to stop every few minutes to look up what certain things are!) it has also become more enjoyable. Here are some of my tips on how to fight the study blues; trust me, I get them too!
Another big milestone of 2016 in terms of learning is finishing weeknight and weekend call! I just wrote about this recently with some common conditions we see in hospital dermatology. I’ve learned so much being the consultant and seeing all types of interesting rashes and skin lesions. You learn quickly that people’s rashes don’t “read the textbook” and you have to be able to recognize all sorts of presentations even if they’re not classic. Our call schedule is less demanding than that of, say, internal medicine or surgery, but it is a nice feeling to not have to lug my biopsy bag and supplies everywhere and constantly check the pagers to see if I have to go to the hospital. To the first years taking over call: it’s a rite of passage, you learn a lot, and once in a while, you realize you have learned some dermatology when you recognize a rare skin condition…
Another note about learning: go to as many conferences as you can, within budget of course! I went to the American Academy of Dermatology conference in March (my experience here) and the National Psoriasis Foundation conference for residents in October (what I learned here — including how to ask questions in public, something I’ve struggled with). They were so much fun and I learned an incredible amount about dermatology, both through the speeches and through networking with other dermatologists and trainees in the field. Many conferences offer scholarships to residents and students so take advantage of that offer if available.
This year I was less into “meeting more people” mode and more into “spending time with the friends I have” mode. I was kind of nervous to move to NYC; I had lived my entire life in the Bay Area and all my friends/family are there. My first year here I tried to meet people and push myself out of my comfort zone to make new friends. This year, I was able to hang out with my coresidents more outside of clinic, doing study dates at cafes or going to dinner. I feel so lucky to have friends in my program, since these are the people I spend a LOT of time with! I’ve also gotten to see my college friends from home, my new Stanford friends who live in NYC, and my friends from medical school during weddings, birthdays, and holidays. I read a post on Wait but Why recently on measuring the rest of your life in pictures. Depressing to see it all laid out, but we only get so many more opportunities to see each other before life gets way busier with family and little ones. Each time I get to see my friends it feels really special.
I’ve loved spending more time with my in laws, nieces, and Matt’s family in NYC, as I’m sure you’ve seen from my Instagram and Snapchat! I love seeing the girls grow up, an experience I would never have had if I hadn’t matched in New York. The move here has been much smoother than anticipated because I have a family here, and spending the holidays with them has been so much fun. I can’t wait to spend more time with them in 2017, including traveling to Turks and Caicos in January and a huge family trip to Korea in March!
Last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to my husband who loves me even when I’m hangry, who supports me in my career (and helps me with research!), who keeps me well fed constantly, and always makes me feel special. I don’t know what I did to deserve you but you’re mine for life now ;P