On the tumble of life (Or Child/Adolescent Psych: a post-mortem)

Despite my cushy hours on the adolescent psych floor, my life has been filled with activity and motion. I submitted residency applications halfway through this rotation, I have met weekly with my study team to move forward on my Capstone Research project, I have emotionally invested myself in my patients, and I have charged forward on the podcast.

Applications for residency underwhelmed and overwhelmed me. I completed about two dozen drafts of my personal statement with the help of friends and of family. At time, I wanted to throw up my hands and scream, “Screw it! We are submitting it as is!” I am glad I practiced patience and humility throughout the process, because I feel that the final essay is a well-honed samurai sword of a piece. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to read it at the end of this year and when I begin residency.

Underwhelmed by the waiting game. Mackenzi received almost ten interviews already, probably as a result of her killer Step 2CK score: those programs likely did not read all of the applications or even her entire application. In the single week since submission, these programs probably filtered the applicants through an algorithm and the cream rose to the top. I am glad for my partner to have a harvest of interviews, she deserves all of them and more.

We are even noticing the more family-friendly programs offer video interviews and second looks. This is in place of an in-person visit during a narrow window for a very pregnant lady or barely post-partum new mom. The extra bits of communication to coordinate a unique circumstance will hopefully make us stand out, or at least remain memorable for selection committees.

I am waiting for this coming week when the dean’s letter is released to programs and most of the committees will begin to extend interviews. If I don’t have a slow trickle of offers this week, then I can begin to panic. But there are already signs that this is simply early neurotic worrying, nothing based in reality. One Family Med program already extended Mackenzi an interview because the sister Psychiatry program likes me and wants to ensure that we both interview there. The fabled couples match reach out, and it occurred at one of our top programs.

Things can be good.

Things are good.


My research project, an autoethnographic study of my weekly reflections, has been an interesting practice. Reading through the first three years of medical school now that I am in the cushy fourth year position. So much strife and struggle to get here. I have grown so much since those days as a single and ready to mingle fellow in Tampa.

My study team and I are qualitatively analyzing the first three years of writing. I’ve noticed that I sometimes require outside perspective to appreciate the extent of my accomplishments. This is one of those cases, where my study team consistently highlights my achievements and I have to take a moment to accept the praise instead of immediately knocking it to the ground. It is unusual that I’ve written three books and conducted almost a hundred interviews On Death during medical school.

I’m excited to continue forward on this project, turning my weekly writing into something scholarly, a commentary on the medical education experience. I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on those wild first three years utilizing a rigorous qualitative method. The structure forces me to reflect on my writing, much like an impending dentist appointment reminding me to floss.


Investing myself in patients on the adolescent unit has rewarded me ten-fold. I’m glad for my time on the adolescent unit. I felt that I’ve positively impacted both the treatment team and the patients. I am also glad to be leaving, to move on and grow in other aspects. Next month: the Hospice and Palliative Care service.

I could feel frustration building during this past week. The same or similar conversations that I hold with patients. The repetitive ideas covered over and over again with different patients. I began seeking novelty in my patients, instead of appreciating the bread-and-butter of major depression with generalized anxiety. The novelty-seeking is fine, especially at this stage in my training, but I will need to handle the day-in-day-out cases with the same amount of presence, appreciation, and empathy.


I feel like the past two months of psych rotations have resulted in an exponential growth in my skills as an interviewer, both in the medical context and in the podcast realm.

I visualize conversations differently, and I notice a path for discussion that will lead to change or at least a confrontation with assumption. I see this route and jump on the opportunity, like a grappler going for the neck or a hunter taking aim on a deer’s vitals. I feel the thrill rise when I ask the question, and wait with bated breath as I determine the result.

I’ve begun leaning into the re-interview concept. A shaky start, but I am figuring out how to best approach the check-in years after the first initial contact. I missed an opportunity with Alana’s re-interview, both of us listening to the initial conversation only after we recorded the second one. So many missed conversation trees, so many opportunities lost.

But now I know that listening to the first interview is essential homework for any re-interview. And so far, re-interviews have gone well. I notice how different my style now compared to these initial recordings almost three years ago. How superficial my questioning and how surface the discussions. Maybe I’ll feel the same way about this batch of interviews, when I review them in a few year’s time.

After all, if I don’t cringe a little when reviewing my past work, then I probably am not growing or challenging myself.


Long Form Sundays

On Death Podcast

3 thoughts on “On the tumble of life (Or Child/Adolescent Psych: a post-mortem)

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