Back in medical school I used to write posts all about my different rotations, what I learned on each one, and what I thought about each different specialty. Now, I’m more than half way through with my first year of Ophthalmology residency. I figured I should probably do a little recap of residency so far.
For my first year of residency or “intern year” I completed a “preliminary year program” at Mayo Clinic under the department of Internal Medicine. Many Ophthalmology programs give you the option of completing a transitional year vs. a preliminary year. All that differs between the two is the structure of the year. How much time you have for electives, How much time you spend in the hospital, etc. all vary.
I started Ophtho in June of 2015 after my intern year ended. There are 4 residents in my class with me, and there are 3 years of ophtho residency, so 12 residents total.
Ophtho started off with a heavy optics curriculum and time in our COS resident run acute care clinic. Those first 4 months of refraction and COS clinic were so glorious. I didn’t even know to appreciate it back then. How I miss those simple times…
On September 1, life changed. The second years handed over the primary call pagers, and my 3 other co-residents and I started taking primary call.
Primary call is actually the worst thing in the whole world. When you are holding the pager, you are the ONLY Ophthalmologist who is able to be contacted for the whole Mayo Clinic system. Any patient can call you at any time of day. Patients can call you at 3 am and ask if they can have a refill of their drops. The ER can call you any time and have you come in to see any patient. Some calls are ridiculous and make you angry because you were dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to see someone with dry eyes. Some calls make you angry because someone who did nothing wrong lost their vision forever and there is nothing you can do about it.
Call is emotionally and physically draining. There is constant anxiety that comes with having a pager on you 24/7. It is something I cannot describe. When I’m on call, I have a hard time sleeping because I dream about my pager going off. When I lie in bed and try to relax, I think about my pager going off and my stomach churns with anxiety. The uncertainty of when you will be called contributes a lot to this anxiety.
I’ve tried to really think about why I feel so physically anxious when I am on call, and I can’t quite figure it out. I don’t mind going in to see patients. Most of the time, I’m happy I can help and I get to learn something as well. But, going into the ED at 1 am when you know you have a clinic full of patients the very next day is difficult.
Splitting 365 call days between 4 people means we are each on call about 92 times. Some calls are glorious and you don’t have to go in at all. Some calls are disasters (or as my co-resident calls them- dumpster fires) and you are there all day or all night. I only have 37 more call days and I am already fantasizing about handing over my pager to the new first years.
So that’s call. I could probably complain about it for 5 more pages, but I’ll just stop there.
July-October was our COS and refraction months. Then in November, we split up for individual rotations.
In November, I was on Oculoplastics. I LOVED getting to be in on surgeries and see patients with pathology of the orbit. Can’t wait for that rotation again second year.
In December I was back on COS as the primary resident running the acute care clinic. COS is one of the main reasons I wanted to come to Mayo. It is a resident run clinic and gives you a ton of autonomy and chance to learn independently. It also pushes out of your comfort zone and challenges you. I worry about my patients on COS constantly. I spend tons of time doing patient follow-up, emailing primary care doctors to update them on their patient’s eyes, checking test results, looking at imaging, calling patients, and more. When I interviewed at Mayo, I remember telling one of the consultants, “I’m ready to work my butt off” and I think I knew that’s what I would have to do in COS.
I love COS because I really feel like I’m working in my own little eye clinic. I love interacting with the patients and all the other staff of the eye clinic. The techs at Mayo are AMAZING and make my life SO great all the time. They also tease me a lot and we have fun working together- it’s a good team 🙂
January and February were much more relaxing because I was on our Neuro-ophthalmology and Ophthalmic pathology rotations. I spent the morning in Neuro clinic and then in the afternoon I went to Pathology and looked at slides and did gross sectioning of surgical specimens.
January and February were also crazy because I really buckled down and started studying A LOT for OKAPS. I kind of disappeared from the blog during those months.
Now that it’s March, I’m back on COS for the month. Since it’s my second go-around with COS I feel more confident. It’s also been a pretty slow month and I have had way less patients compared to my month in December.
For the rest of the year, I have one month on Retina in April and 2 months on Cornea in May and June. Then, come July 1, this year, the hardest year of my life, will be behind me.
Thank you everyone for following along on this journey and encouraging me!