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Tough Decision

Colinson72x722Colin Son -- I’ve been away from blogging for a week. Away rotations will do that. Away rotations will also put you in tough positions at times.

For a recap, I want to do a pretty competitive surgical subspecialty and I’m doing two months of sub-i rotations at away institutions. Right now I’m out in Los Angeles. There are unique and inherent challenges with an away rotation. Moving into a new health care system, with unique ways of doing things, and honing in on some sort of rhythm on a pretty quick timeline is a challenge.

Not all of the challenges are inherent. Some are self created.

I got back today from a wedding. I was in the wedding and it was important that I was there. I love the bride and groom and I wouldn’t have missed the wedding short of an emergency. Taking time off from an away sub-I, however, is nothing short of taboo. The program I’m at right now was very polite and didn’t call me out when I asked for the weekend off, but I know that flying to Georgia this weekend leaves a bad impression. There are many goals of an away rotation but it is arguable that the most important is to demonstrate your work ethic and stamina. Taking time off is a little contradictory to that goal.

I realized that, but after weighing that and my dream of matching this March versus my commitment to some of my closest friends and their wedding, I made my decision.

I was lucky in the way the situation was handled. If I failed to impress my away rotation program, at the least they were polite and understanding about my decision. That might be a bad way to describe it. What I mean is that they weren’t confrontational or upset.

I knew that this wedding was coming for six months, but I don’t buy the argument that if I have a weekend commitment I know about, that it is somehow rude to the away rotation program to schedule a rotation during that period.

Let us not forget, if my goal is to impress, the main goal of the away rotation program should still be to serve as an educational experience for the visiting student. Hard to believe my brief time off hurt my educational experience.

No need to get offended, even for something as taboo as a visiting student asking for time off.

There is another argument I’ve heard around that I’m taking an opportunity away from another visiting student. If I know I’m going to do something unsavory for my chances of impressing and since there are a limited number of visiting student spots, that I should give up a spot to someone else. Maybe. In this case, my away rotation has fewer visiting students than available spots right now. So no one is missing out.

Bad form or not, I have no regrets. And by the way, the wedding was awesome and I have never been happier for the bride and groom.

September 18, 2008 in Colin Son | Permalink


haha... this reminds me that there would never be any decision for me had i been in ur position when i was in medschool... (im now a physician)u see, our dean will skin u alive if it be known that u were absent on a rotation... the only excuse would if u are dying... i guess, it's about priority...

Posted by: ninette_umpa | Sep 18, 2008 9:16:34 PM

I think us residents-to-be need to start putting our foot down and expect to be treated with consideration and respect. I'm glad the program did not give you a hard time about your very reasonable request.

Don't forget we have a say in the match too.. how the residents are treated will be foremost in deciding how I rank programs. Maybe it's different in your competitive specialty, but I've sometimes felt that programs are trying to impress me more than the other way around.

Posted by: Ryan Sevadjian | Sep 23, 2008 4:15:01 PM

Well done for not denying that you're a human with a life outside of Medicine. And yes, it is tough when you really want to impress your superiors.

Posted by: Linda | Sep 24, 2008 1:02:26 PM

wow I can't believe this!

I can't think of a doctor I know (in Aus) who would be anything but happy about me going to a wedding on the weekend! They'd be surprised I even asked! Most doctors have told us to enjoy med school while we can.

Maybe things are just different here

Posted by: | Sep 25, 2008 6:19:47 AM

I'm glad u made time out for friendship. I'm a physician now and i regret friends i've lost on my way to becoming one. Looking back, it wasnt worth it. Get a life!

Posted by: olutoyosi omotoso | Sep 25, 2008 11:59:31 AM

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