Monday, November 9, 2020

Dear Figs:

 I still don't think you understand what you did. You can't -- because if you did, your apology would have rung a little more true. But we'll get to that (limp) apology another time. Let's talk about how I got here. 

I'm a resident physician in family medicine in my second year of residency. This means that I have earned an undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Science in biology here), a medical degree (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), and I've matched into a residency program that requires three years of training and passing a state board exam in my specialty before I can graduate and practice medicine as a board-certified licensed physician. In undergraduate training, I had to pass classes such as chemistry, physics, statistics, ecology, biosystematics, genetics, immunology, and physiology - to name a few. Then applying and gaining acceptance into medical school was no easy feat. Once accepted, one has to continue to study and learn about pharmacology, pathology, anatomy, physiology and more as they pertain to specific body systems and disease processes. Medical school is a marathon -- run at a sprinter's pace. Then there's The Match. I'm still traumatized from the match, so if you need to know what that's about, please just Google it, because I just can't spell out the terror of it here. It's the painful process of finding a training job for residency with computers deciding the outcome.

The thing about this ad that you guys at Figs don't understand? It only served to amplify all of the voices along the above journey -- sometimes my voice included -- that said I wasn't smart enough, or good enough, or MAN enough to accomplish my dreams. As a non-traditional (read: OLD) student starting back to school after 20 years of being out of high school, I already had a very loud inner voice telling me that it was very unlikely that I'd come out on the other end of this undertaking with a Dr. in front of my name. My advisor in college made sure to tell me that there was no way I'd make the grades needed to get into medical school. I had to get up every day and pep talk myself into working my butt off, AGAIN. Everyone around you tells you how lucky you are to be in medical school, and you wonder every second if you actually deserve it. Because everyone around you is extremely smart and hard-working with so many amazing accomplishments, and you can't help but compare yourself. I've heard that called imposter syndrome, and your ad feels like a mirror held up confirming that very idea. 

So let's look at this:

1. It's a young woman.
2. She's reading a Medical Terminology for Dummies book. Upside down.
3. She's got a prominently displayed DO badge.

How did this get past the powers-that-be? There are people who are paid to look at stuff like this, and go, "nuh-uh, no way." Where are these people? 

Let me count the ways this is a hot mess that could be nothing other than malicious. But let me also set some records straight.

We as women physicians -- specifically osteopathic physicians -- do not need another voice telling us we are not capable physicians. The hurdles that exist for women physicians are high and difficult, now more than ever. The current coronavirus pandemic is asking more from our healthcare force than ever before, and we are dedicated to using all of our resources to fight back and take care of our patients. There is a tremendous opportunity to join alongside and be a positive force, yet Figs chose to tear down rather than build up. This is why I will not be purchasing any products from this company going forward, neither will I wear any that I have in my possession currently. It saddens me greatly that every time I see these articles of clothing in my closet that all I can think about is this company thinks I'm a stupid woman with a sub-par medical degree. I cannot in good conscience wear something that makes me feel so less-than. Because I'm not. Ask my patients.

(Oh, and Rachel Maddow, you're on notice too. It takes about 5 seconds of research to avoid the Great Wrath of the AOA and a defamation lawsuit.)

Very sincerely yours,
DOCTOR Val Staples, DO

Sunday, November 8, 2020


 So I haven't posted anything here since the beginning of third year of medical school. There are reasons, but too much to go into. Anyway, summing up: I graduated medical school in May 2019. Matched into my first choice family medicine residency, and I'm now a PGY-2 resident. That involved a bit of a pick-up-and-move-situation, and I'm superbly happy in my new location. Some of the kids made the jump with us, and they are settling in pretty well. My son that is also a doctor matched in the same residency, and is a PGY-1 currently. This is just a bit of a catch-up post, and I have a subject in mind for jumping all the way back in, but it's simmering. Hang tight!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Third Year, it's HERE!

I have to admit, I couldn't make myself blog here while I was waiting for my COMLEX scores. I knew I'd say a bunch of stuff, and there was a distinct possibility that I might have to swallow some of those things if I didn't pass. Every time I thought about logging in to see my score, my stomach jumped into my throat and then plunged into my toes. Test day was pretty much a traumatic blur. I do remember going to BoruBoru Sushi and having a fabulous salmon sushi bowl after. That was nice. The thought of having to pull out all the books again after closing that chapter most enthusiastically and then having to retake that monstrosity of an exam was just too much to grasp for my poor brain. My brain. It's still a quivering pile of jello, guys. I'm three weeks into third year rotations, and whenever my preceptor asks me a question, I fly into panic mode. I want to curl into a fetal position on the floor and scream. I'm really good at saying, "I don't know. I am sure I knew that before, but right now, I have nothing." I really hope this goes away soon. I'm seriously embarrassed at what a slobbering idiot I've turned into. I probably need some therapy.

Speaking of therapy, EVERYONE needs to visit Hawaii some time in their miserable existence anywhere else on this planet that is not Hawaii. It is beautiful. I could happily move myself and my entire family there. But I'm thinking it's the worst place in the world to have a job. I don't think I'd ever want to work, I'd just sit on the beach and be useless all day. That would be fine until it came time to pay the bills and buy some food.

Rotations have been fun so far. I just finished my third week with my first rotation, and it's really a whole lot better than the first two years. I'm kinda sad this is my last week with my first preceptor. I've seen lots of cool cases that I can't tell you anything about, because HIPAA.

I'm trying really hard to find my feet with this new schedule. We have early morning lectures at 7am Monday-Thursday, and I feel like I have just enough time to get home and flop into bed when I get done with clinic. I still have lots of reading to do, and we have cases assigned to complete as well. Then we have to study for our end of rotation exam, which is every four weeks. Add to that the required laundry, food prep, and maybe seeing my family a little, and I am having a bit of trouble fitting everything in. I'm hoping I'll hit a groove and find some extra time here and there to get some exercise and goofing off time in. I can't be stretched this thin and just be in third year! I guess I'm just a wimp.

Well, I think that's pretty much caught up from the summer to now. Here's hoping things settle down, and I manage my time well enough to get it all done. The life of a medical student. A whiny one, I guess. It's HARD.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Blocks? What are blocks? I'm done with blocks.

I'm still here. I've just been buried in board study, and not much else has been going on. Well, it has been going on, I've just missed it because of the whole board study thing I mentioned up there. I have a new granddaughter! She's beautiful and perfect.

So what's been going on? Well, we finished our second year of medical school, and I'm in that lovely limbo period between finished with second year and taking COMLEX Level 1. That's scheduled for next week, and I'm still pounding the books pretty hard. It's been a bit of a challenge for me, because our school requires that we take a practice exam and make a minimum score on it before we are cleared to take the COMLEX. And I didn't do so good on that, so I had to get some help. But the help helped, and I'm all geared up to nail this thing next week. Except I'm pretty nervous. Hopefully it will go smoothly.

After I take the boards, my HB and I are taking a trip to HAWAII!! I'm so excited I just can't stand it. I'm also a little concerned with what I am going to do with myself after the studying part is over. I mean, I really only have a few weeks between COMLEX and starting clinical rotations, and the studying will definitely not be over for good. But I spend so much time studying right now, and I finished this afternoon and was casting about for something to do to keep myself busy, and I just got bored. I don't want to watch Netflix, I have seen everything on Facebook, and I really don't know what else to do with myself. I even took a nap, so I'm not sleepy. I've already exercised, too. So I guess I found time to blog, haha! Except there's not really a whole lot to update because it's just wake up, exercise, study, go to bed, repeat. I just feel the need to chronicle this as part of my journey, so you guys have to hear about it.

Anyway, I hope all my fellow med school students are having a nice summer (because most of them have already taken the boards), and that we will all be ready to jump in and figure out what the heck we are doing once third year starts. I guess once boards are over, I can begin obsessing about third year and how I don't know anything about anything.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Bonus: I'm just over here busting up the odds

This post looks to be a follow up to yesterday's whinging about studying for boards, so you can ignore it if you like. But sometimes, when you're fearing the future, it helps to look backward. So here I go. I spent a large portion of my life going with the flow. And that's ok, if it makes you happy. I learned early on that making waves gets you unnecessary attention (detention?), and it's better to just keep your head down and take whatever comes. Good societies are built on everyone following the rules. But progress depends on people -- just every once in a while -- asking "but what if we...?" The majority of people in this world are content to check off their to-do list every day and keep putting one foot in front of the other, and that's OK. But there's always been this huge "but what if I...?" bouncing around in my head. It's really hilarious when I meet someone new and we are making small talk about what we do as a career, what makes up our family, or what do we like to do for fun. Oh, you have six children? WOW! Oh, you're in medical school at 43? OMG! You've lost 100 pounds in the last year? WHOA!

See, I didn't set out to do anything out of the ordinary, or stuff that people don't normally do, or anything that would statistically be something out of my reach. But here I am, doing all that stuff! I can't tell you how many times someone has said, oh well, the odds of that working out for you successfully are pretty low. I honestly didn't see it as a challenge. I just kept working towards what I wanted waiting for it to not work out. Except, so far it has worked out. SO I keep going. So when I whinge about boards and whether I feel like I'm going to pass, it's kind of like wondering if this is the part of my journey where they finally tell me I can't go any further. I'm way further out on the rope than I ever imagined I'd get. And I won't be content to stop here. If I don't pass COMSAE, I'm going to take it again. But I really hope I pass. If I fail COMLEX, well I'm going to take that again too! I don't feel hopeless or discouraged, I just feel REALLY REALLY NERVOUS. 

And then today I was scrolling through Facebook after my workout, and I saw a video about Mandy Harvey. She lost her hearing at 18, and thought she would have to give up singing. But she didn't. She taught herself how to sing in a new way, and she's super good at it, too! So she goes on America's Got Talent and makes Simon Cowell cry. Mandy joins the ranks of my heroes, which includes the Chewbacca Mom, Melissa Radke, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Girl Power! Anyway, I'm including the video from her performance. I was going to just make a Facebook post and share it, but then I started having all these thoughts, so I blogged instead. I'm sure your FB scroll button will love me for that.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Block 8 Week 9 (is it?): We've reached that point

So I've reached the point in studying for COMLEX Step 1 that I'm sure every medical student does at some time in their dedicated study block: I HATE EVERYONE. Not really, I don't hate anyone at all. But I keep catching myself watching people going about their lives doing things they want to do and having fun and zero cares. AND I AM SO JEALOUS. I see cars parked in front of shopping centers or restaurants, and I think about how all those people have all this time to do whatever they want, and I'm sitting here cramming more diseases in my head than it could ever possibly hold.

We are one week from taking COMSAE, which is the practice test that determines whether my school will allow me to take COMLEX on June 28. I'm convinced no one else in my class is struggling with this as much as I am. I feel like everyone is going to pass it with flaming flair, and I'm going to be sitting there with an almost but not quite good enough score. And that will send all the plans I have spiraling down the toilet. I've been following a study schedule, and most days I am happy with my practice questions. But, the last two days have been less than stellar, and I feel like stuff is falling out of my head faster than I can put it in. I can't decide if I need to study harder or take a break.

So yeah, when I am sitting here at Panera sucking at COMQUEST, I look out the window and there's a lady sitting at a table sipping a coffee and scrolling through her phone, and I think UGH why did I go to medical school? I guess I'll have to come back and write a follow up post answering that question, because nothing is coming to mind.

I think what I'm going to do right now is put up my computer and books and go do something normal humans do. If my head stops swirling with all the stress and stuff, I'll do another round of questions before I go to bed.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Block 8 Weeks 2-6: This block is weird and I don't quite know what to say here

I keep opening a new post with the intention of catching up with the last few weeks. And then another week passes of pretty much the same thing, and I really don't think anything I'd put here would be very entertaining. It's block 8: the final frontier. Dedicated board study is pretty much just lather, rinse, repeat. I get up every morning and work out. Then I decide whether I'm going to class or not. Sometimes we have class, but it's mostly review. There are some sections where I find the review helpful, and some not so much. Like today is GI, and I'm pretty good on that, so I decided to stay home and do some studying on my own. Except it is now 11am and I am still working on the whole getting showered and presentable after my workout. I feel like I move in slow motion here lately. I think maybe I need a little more structure in my study schedule. Right now it's pretty much dread, delay, drudge. We are about a month from COMLEX Step 1, so I gotta get my booty in gear. Gonna do that now, CIAO!