women’s health elective

24 Sep

I started med school truly believing that I was meant to go into either geriatrics or women’s health.  Things change.  Since I am now most certainly going into peds (at least I hope some of the programs to which I’ve applied consider my application), I tried to cram as many peds electives as possible prior to Evie’s birth.  But now I’m at the tail end of my clinical requirements–I literally only require three more days  of clinic in order to graduate–so I decided this block to scratch an itch.  As a candidate for the Certificate in Women’s Health at Penn, I am required to take one elective in women’s health, but there are a number of reasons why I wanted this elective, for me:

  1. Personal interest: the female body, it’s not simple.
  2. On the first day of our reproduction course (first year), the course director said something to the effect of, “There will likely be, in one way or another, women involved in your life–mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, friends.  And, as a medical professional, you will be counsel to them.  It’s crucial to know the basics.”  Perhaps I shouldn’t be asked for advice regarding health care, but some do, and I am overwhelmingly flattered (especially since I’m married to a real authority).  I guess that roughly 85% of questions I field right now are ob/gyn related: My gynecologist says I have to have a colposcopy–what’s a colposcopy?–the description sounds terrifying.  Is it true that I can’t lift more that 35 pounds while pregnant?  Hey there, I’m having contractions, when should I go to the hospital?  Although I can always play the student card–as in, “this is just what I’ve learned, and you can’t take it as real advice, what do I know?”–that’s not going to fly as well when I have (hopefully) an M.D. next to my name.
  3. Approximately half of pediatric patients are female, and adolescent females in particular (not to mention younger girls experiencing precocious puberty or abuse) require some of the same health and preventative care as older women.  I think what I’m learning this month is hugely applicable.
  4. There was a period of my life when I thought ob/gyn was the field of medicine for me.  As much as every peds elective I’ve completed has reinforced my desire to go into pediatrics, I wanted a women’s health elective to affirm that I do not belong in that field.

I’ve enjoyed the last 3.5 weeks tremendously, though feeling a bit spread thin at times juggling family, now convinced that we will need more (likely live-in) childcare lined up during my residency.  And I do feel convinced that ob/gyn is not field for me, but I’d like women’s health to be an integral component to my pediatrics practice.

Oh, and I’m now terrified of my bone health.  When women hit 30, they’re no longer building bone as rapidly.  And all those years of multivitamins and calcium supplements have not been shown to help.  Today I bought my first container of Vitamin D3, 1000 IU softgels.  It’s a necessary component of bone health.  Although we get it from the sun in the summer (if we show skin outside), an endocrinologist once told me that, in the Northern hemisphere, we could lie naked outside all day during the winter and still not absorb enough Vitamin D.  I am also paying more attention to how much calcium I get in my diet–45% daily requirement in a cup of almond milk!

Since I’ve been awful at posting, a few from our last-day-of-summer romp through Chanticleer:

chanticleer 1 chanticleer 2 chanticleer 3

Oh goodness, either my arm or her neck just isn’t long enough for a proper carrier selfie…she looks concerned:

chanticleer 4 chanticleer 5


6 Responses to “women’s health elective”

  1. Megan September 24, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    I have to admit, I belly-laughed when I imagined someone asking your advice on when to go the hospital if they’re having contractions. Also, your baby-carrier selfies are adorable at any angle.

    • annaojesus September 24, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

      Ha! Definitely happened. The funniest thing is that John and I are the WORST, as we very nearly had both kids at home (take a shower while your wife is on all fours, come on doctor 😉 ). And thank you so much!

  2. NE Ohio September 24, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Anna, I am a longtime reader and admirer of your blog — I have been so impressed by your calm and thoughtful approach to motherhood and medicine. I am a first-time mother of a 10-month-old at 42 (following years of RPL). I’ve been a practicing attorney since I was 24, but my undergraduate degree is in chemistry and my recent health experiences have revived my interest in science and, in particular, medicine. I know my background is completely different from yours, and feel free to demur if this isn’t a fair question, but: what advice (if any) would you offer someone contemplating a career change to medicine with a small child at (arguably) an advanced age for both? Thanks for any thoughts you might have. Regardless, I will look forward to reading about your adventures and best of luck with both women’s health and peds!

    • annaojesus September 24, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      Dear NE Ohio,

      I hope this note finds you well! I had to reply asap, but worry that my answer will be far from complete at this time, but would be happy to chat more over email if you’d rather.

      First of all, congratulations on your 10-month-old. I’m so sorry for your RPL, and I hope your child is healthy and happy. My mother had me at 40, and we could not have been closer. I hope your kid is treating you well!

      Secondly, thank you for your kind encouragement–“calm” is not often a descriptor directed toward me, though I’d love to work in that direction.

      I’m flattered that you would ask for my advice, though I’m not sure I have any great pearls. I’m about to really contradict myself:

      If a profession in medicine is calling you, and you truly don’t think you’ll be as happy doing anything else, go for it! I have never regretted it (though I know our situations are different, and I’m not a professional yet, so what do I know?). During the moments when I’ve been unhappy, I’ve always been able to remind myself that I simply would be less happy with the alternative. (As much as I love and miss my girls, my six-month maternity leave after my first was enough to convince me that I am a happier mother for working, for example.) I study less as a mother, but I think my studying is more effective; the hours upon hours of studying in my first two years were not great for maintaining focus.

      That said, it’s a long road, and one that often requires a lot of time away from your family. I’m so excited for residency, yet I know it will be hard on my heart to miss so many days with my daughters. Do you have to complete a post-bac? It might be helpful to calculate out how many years it will take you until you complete residency, and how old your child will be at that time. If it’s worth it, it’s certainly doable…I have friends who are adults whose parents went back to med school when they were children. Though they admit that it was a hard time on their family, it gave them a huge amount of joy to see their parents happy, and they were still able to cultivate a good relationship. Is it worth it to you? Honestly, I think the worst part for me would be doing post-bac with a child…but I’m not a science person, so that year was really hard on me. With your background, you will likely thrive!

      Are finances a concern?

      I wish you the very best of luck, and please don’t hesitate to continue this dialogue! Thank you for your note!


      • NE Ohio September 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

        Thank you so much for writing back so quickly, Anna! I would in fact love to continue our correspondence by e-mail, if that would be fine with you. I truly appreciate your perspective and your suggestions. Please let me know if you’d like me to send you a note, or if you’d prefer to e-mail me, my address is slsubramanian4@gmail.com.

    • annaojesus September 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      just sent you an email–let me know if you didn’t receive it!

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