Monday, June 01, 2009
Well, I'm 24 hours away from being free of the American Board of Radiology for the next ten years (that's when I'll recertify).
I spent a lot of time debating whether or not to blog about my trip to Louisville, but I decided to record what I can remember of my trip. All radiologists hate this place. Few have any memories of their boards. When my granddad died, my dad took pictures. It seemed weird at the time (standing around a funeral home room, shaking hands with people, listening to muzak, when FLASH goes the bulb). But now I can see that my dad is probably glad he has memories of that event. Even when it's not pleasant, it's important.
Background: those of you who have had to live around me for the last four years know that it all comes down to this. All those 7 AM conferences, taking cases in front of peers, sounding like an idiot in the beginning, getting chastised for missing subtleties on the images, sweating through countless scrub shirts, etc. The only reason we have case conferences is to simulate the oral board experience. All those books and websites. All those call nights, consultations, cafeteria meals. All those quizzes, PowerPoints, duty hours, schedule requests, rotations, attendings. Everything a resident does for four years means not-a-lot if tomorrow doesn't go well. There's a lot on the line, which makes the event enormous regardless of the preparation, reassurance, and previous pass rates. The culture of radiology residency is so closely intertwined with this exam. It's what gowns and gates are to Sewanee. It's what hot dogs are to baseball, ears to Mickey Mouse. So when I sit in those 10 consecutive hotel rooms with 10 examiners tomorrow, it'll be a big deal. Even though I know I'll pass.
There's not a lot in Louisville. I got here on Sunday uneventfully. Airplanes (NWA), rental car (Enterprise Hyundai), hotel (Hampton Inn). I was shocked to see how close the Executive West Inn is to the airport. [It was bought by the Crowne Plaza within the last year, but I can't bear to think of it under that name; boards are ALWAYS at Ex West.] When I got in my little car and exited up out of the airport lot, this monument of a hotel was the first thing I saw, dominating my little horizon like some huge stadium. It's kind of intimidating! My hotel is right next door. By the way, I LOVE getting into a hotel room. I immediately unpack everything and put things in their places. It's like a clean slate moment for me, and everything fits so neat and tidily. Suit hanging up, little soap bar unwrapped, computer plugged in. I love it.
I went to a Quizno's for lunch, drove around downtown for a while, and found a local weekly paper so that I could pick a good place for dinner. I saw the U of L (there was a regional playoffs baseball game going on at Papa John Stadium), the Children's Hospital, and the Louisville Slugger museum. I was back in my room for a while, but headed out to Boombozz Taphouse for dinner. It was a good choice; lots of draught beers, good pizza, good atmosphere. Watched some TV and actually got quite a bit of sleep. Today was a little harder to fill with activities. I kept seeing examinees coming and going from the hotel next door and wishing for my own completion and closure. I went to a bookstore and a mall to spend some time. I've been in my room for a lot of the afternoon playing on the computer, learning about RSS feeds, catching up on blogs, and trying not to think about the test.
What I'll remember about this semester is the time I've spent with my group of residents, the nerves, and the support I've gotten at home. I'll NEVER think about boards without giving a silent little shout out to Erica, who helped keep me sane and allowed all those study nights. She took on proportionally more laundry, meal prep, trash take-out, discipline, phone call, errand, and planning duty. Willingly. Without debate.
What I'll remember about my residency is that thousands of patients were involved in getting me here. They all helped. A CT scan has about 400-500 images on average, if you include the reconstructions, scouts, etc. MRI has more. US has hundreds as well. If you look at 50 or 60 studies a day, plus conference, plus call and after-hours, plus what we read in books, we are exposed to thousands of images EACH DAY. Imagine what how many images I've seen in four years. It takes real people - with real diseases that hurt and make those patients throw up and bleed and drain and suffer - to make those images. I don't forget that. I will never forget that while my specialty at times makes me a little more removed from the IV poles and hospital beds and call buttons, I am indebted to real people.
So I'll finish tomorrow around noon, head to the airport, and get home tomorrow night. I'll spend much-needed time with my family and open a little letter on Friday or Saturday. Phew.