Spencer C. Knox, MD

Internal Medicine Resident Physician, PGY-3

Tag: goals

Goals for 2018

This weekend has been really relaxing and re-energizing.  Weekends are rare during residency, and are exceedingly sparse during the first and second years.  This year, my third and final of residency, has ushered in more weekends.  It’s been awesome for organizing and cleaning at home.  Today, I’ve been able to vacuum, clean the kitchen, and am in the process now of organizing my desk.

Goals for 2018

In taking a new approach to the prototypical “New Year’s Resolutions,” I decided to rename it “goals” for the year 2018.  Earlier today, while jamming out to music on my Bose Mini Soundlink, I did some thinking about my goals for this year.  I’ll share my big three.

#1 Studying with a fresh perspective

   I will study with a new purpose, as if I have a patient sitting right in front of me

Sounds strange just writing this, but I recently sat in on a lecture that drove this very point home.  I’ve been fortunate to have success on many exams utilizing the “study [x, y, z] material for the exam” approach.  I want to extend and improve on my success with a more diverse and more detailed working knowledge of medicine.  Also, I want even better exam scores.  How I plan on doing this will involve approaching reading and answering practice questions differently.  Starting in 2018, I pledge that I will study with a new purpose, as if I have a patient sitting right in front of me.  This will impart relevance to the study topic at hand.

Note to self when answering practice questions:  you may very well see a patient with the same presentation and be faced with the same problem.  Learn from it.

#2 Improve my communication

The hope is to improve on two fronts:  answering my text messages promptly and reaching out to family and friends more often.  Time seems to be accelerating the deeper I get in residency/training; I need to take pause and appreciate others in my life with a simple “Hi, how are you doing?”  Time constraints are often an impeding factor, but I plan on using breaks in the day to reach out more often to develop quality relationships.

#3 A focus on my well-being

Super complex and relating to a myriad of areas of my life, this is the year to enhance my health.  Despite eye-popping reports of physician burnout, I remain very happy with my choice of practicing medicine as a doctor.  Training takes a toll on everyone in residency, but I plan to stay ahead on the wellness curve.

Exercise, something I frequently recommend to patients and seldom do myself, is first and most important on this list.  I’m happy with weight lifting, elliptical/stationary bicycle/treadmill, or a walk outside even if for only 30 minutes, if that’s what I can do in a day.

Diet, another key element in my life, has suffered as of late.  Instead of reaching for pizza/fries/Lo Mein, my 2018 diet will consist of less carbohydrates and more protein.  When possible, I’ll make fruit smoothies with fiber and protein sources.  Lastly, looking forward to the future is super invigorating.  I will begin training in a GI fellowship, aka my dream career.  To be the best physician possible, it has to include personal improvement all of the aforementioned categories.

Let’s do this!

PGY-2 Life And Decisions

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In front of the North Tower on my last day of intern year!

It’ll take some time to shake the feeling of being the “Intern” after twelve months with that role.  One of my primary goals for intern year (first year) was to learn the fundamentals of real-world medical practice.  If I had to choose a few from a long-list, some fundamentals would include:  recognize life-threatening and other urgent but common conditions, treatment, and speaking to patients and families about their diseases, treatment, and prognosis.

It does feel good to officially be a PGY-2, or “senior” resident. Good and a little scary, to be honest.  I’m sincerely looking forward to the challenges that’ll come with being a senior resident on wards teams, ICU, and all of my elective rotations this academic year.  To help keep me focused on some of my top priorities, I’ve listed some areas I’d like to emphasize…

 

Research projects

  • Get going early this academic year, and aim to publish 2-3 different papers/works.
  • Work with a variety of mentors to gain insight/exposure.

Confidence

  • Make decisions confidently, knowing that I’ve (hopefully) had time to pre-read on the disease process/treatment/prognosis.

Keep an open mind

  • Continuously reassess my strengths and weaknesses; read & study daily whether that is UpToDate/MKSAP during spare time in the hospital and (for bonus study points) a few important sections daily at home.
  • Allow each new elective rotation to shape my future practice of medicine and career choices (e.g. fellowship options).

Ultimate goals

  • I do not know whether I want to end up in general medicine or sub-specialize just yet, but am leaning towards the latter.  Although I know in my heart the areas within Internal Medicine I enjoy most – Cardiology, Gastroenterology, and Musculoskeletal systems – I must decide on my ultimate career path no later than September 2016.
  • Sticking to a self-imposed deadline will allow my nearly daily struggle to decide on a possible fellowship path to come to a conclusion.  If I end up going the fellowship route post-IM residency, I really intend on going straight from residency to fellowship to maintain formal education continuity.

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