Long Call, Long Haul (part 3)

May 29, 2012

A three-part series describing the demands of life on the wards … and what you can do about it!

 

Part 3:  Make health work for you

For Jim, an accessible place to start staying healthy on the wards is food—for you, it might be food, yoga, social time with friends, staying away from alcohol or something else. Here’s the breakdown of what I find works for life on the wards, easily customizable to where you’re starting out.

For those of you just thinking about getting healthier, or for whom health goes out the window on tough rotations, I’ll steal from Weight Watchers and use a point system, of sorts. Think of it this way: each nutritious home-cooked meal, with veggies and whole grains and maybe some fish, counts as one point. Bringing a healthy lunch, making it to a yoga class or the gym, sticking to one beer (even on your days off!), seeing a friend outside of medicine and laughing about your job, getting a massage… each one of these counts as a point.  Can you get to three points a week? Maybe five? I consider three points a week victory over the battle with time that is month of floors or two weeks of night float. Five points a week is winning the war. Just take it one point at a time. Continue reading “Long Call, Long Haul (part 3)”

Long Call, Long Haul (part 1)

May 14, 2012

A three-part series describing the demands of life on the wards … and what you can do about it!

Part 1:  The “life” of an intern

On July 1, 2011 the new ACGME rules on intern duty hours in hospitals took effect. Interns, though not residents, were no longer allowed to work 27-hour shifts as residents everywhere historically had done. The 80-hour work-week still applied, but instead of staying in-house overnight, interns were supposed to have ten full hours away from the hospital between every shift.

Also on July 1, 2011 I started my intern year at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. I had done routine 27-hour shifts during medical school, as a fourth year sub-intern in the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) and as a third year on labor and delivery shifts, a standard part of the OBGYN rotation. And while these were something of a distant memory following a very chilled out fourth year filled with electives and one trip to Africa, I remembered them well enough. The slightly dizzy feeling of walking out of the hospital into the sun at 11am followed by a brief period of sleep-deprivation-induced mania; the great excuse to cram my face with my favorite pastry from the bakery down the street; and the 4-5 hours of slightly nauseated waves of sleep before getting up and having “a day off,” for me usually consisting of a yoga class and dinner before going to bed. Continue reading “Long Call, Long Haul (part 1)”

3 Conscious Breaths: The 20-Second Meditation

August 30, 2011

As a medical student, you may currently be in one of the most demanding phases of your life.  Meeting academic challenges, taking care of patients’ needs, dealing with hectic schedules, and trying to have a personal life, could easily exhaust you.  Achieving all of this requires a calm, focused mind and a strong sense of center.  In order to expend your energy in so many different directions successfully, you have to operate from the deep, calm core of who you are.  This way, everything you do will be much more effective and seemingly effortless.

Meditation increases your ability to stay calm and focused.   It’s not as mysterious as some may think.   Continue reading “3 Conscious Breaths: The 20-Second Meditation”

Calm your mind with the Wei

August 17, 2011

You’re not done studying for the shelf exam, you still have a power point presentation to work on, and—even though you’re exhausted–you’d really like to be prepared for rounds tomorrow morning. Sigh. With so much to do, you’re not even sure where to begin. If only your mind were calm, you could do more and enjoy life more while in med school.

Enter flower essences.

Allow me to explain: Flower essences are aqueous infusions of flowers that elevate your state of mind through the acupuncture meridians. Flower essences are therefore like acupuncture without the needles. Continue reading “Calm your mind with the Wei”

Bring your anatome to life!

June 20, 2011

Spinalis, longissimus, iliocostalis.  Months after the end of Gross Anatomy, these terms (names of the muscles essential for back extension) had trickled from the center of my consciousness to its edges—barely held onto by my sieve-of-a-memory that was already sifting through new material.  Yet on April 1st, I attended a living anatome class: a yoga-Pilates hybrid emphasizing the functional movements of muscles and bones.  Through movement, the class made true to its promise, emphasizing the living aspect of muscles and bones that Grey’s Anatomy just doesn’t quite capture with its diagrams on a page.  Not only did the class bring these muscles back into consciousness (even adding some new ones—the multifidus muscles were judged unimportant by my professor) but it solidified my understanding of my spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis.  Even now, when these terms should have surely fled my mind, I still think of stretching my back as extending my erector spinae. I would highly recommend the classes to any medical student interested in understanding not only anatomy—but their own bodies—better.


About the author

Steven A. McDonald is currently finishing his first year of medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, where he is a wellness representative for his class.

Discover your body to better heal others

March 21, 2011

About three weeks after I began medical school in the fall of 2006, I was already beginning to feel jaded and uninspired.  I entered school with an exciting (and pretty naïve) vision of what was to come: I would learn the hard science of western medicine while integrating and incorporating all the complementary and alternative (CAM) health topics that truly inspired me – nutrition, yoga, and meditation to name a few. I was hopeful that some of this integration would be part of the core medical curriculum at Mount Sinai, and I was certain that I would find like-minded students with whom I could share this exciting journey.

Well, by October, I realized that there definitely would not be any courses on CAM included the formal curriculum, and with the intense course load, I was struggling to maintain my own sense of integration and balance in my daily life. Continue reading “Discover your body to better heal others”