Monday, April 30, 2007


I'm doing a rotation in Addiction Medicine right now, which is through the Psychiatry Department. It's an interesting rotation, because I get to both observe recovering addicts in group therapy as well as see new inpatient consults.

Group therapy is my favorite: I get to sit and observe these (mostly) men get real about their addictions, their depression, their broken lives...It's truly a gift for which I am most grateful. They are in varying stages of recovery -- some are just a few days sober, some are a few weeks, some have been down this road over and over again, and some are here for the first time. The veterans of addiction are the most inspiring, even though they have been struggling for so long. They are so brutally honest with the younger recovering addicts that it almost pains to watch. They have no problem telling the youngsters, "Hey it seems to me you're going to leave here and use today," or "You are too proud of your using, man, all I hear from you are war stories." There is, of course, a benefit to having someone with advanced medical knowledge talk to them about medications, how to organize their newly sober lives, and how to manage their coexisting depressive disorder. However, there is something invaluable to hearing from someone who has been in the trenches and who has felt the anxiety of having to live life sober for the first time in years.

So, to all those people who are Sponsors in AA, NA, etc, I salute you. Your work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Many people don't know how little residents make. I think most people assume that you graduate medical school, you're officially an "MD" and you just sit and wait for the oodles of money to fall into your lap. Not quite.

Let's have a little math lesson:

Undergraduate Education: $20,000
Medical School Education: $180,000
Total Educational Debt: $200,000

That's before Sallie Mae, the hardhearted wench, capitalizes all my interest every 3 months. But, I digress...

Salary of a PGY-1: $39,000 (PGY = post graduate year)
Salary of a PGY-2: $41,000
Salary of a PGY-3: $43,000
Salary of a PGY-4: $45,000

You get the picture. My student loan bill per month would be $900. That's roughly 1/3 of my monthly income! You can't live like this! And - I'm sorry Dolly - residency is not a 9 to 5 job. More like 7 to 8, on a good day. On a bad day it's 6a to 12p...the NEXT day. That's 30 hours. Wait, did I sign up for this?? I guess I did.

I LOVE my job. Love it. I wouldn't trade it for anything. However, it would be nice to make a little bit more, to be able to start paying off my loan debt, to stop living like a starving college student, and to start living like a normal person. Someday, someday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My First Blog

I hope I can keep up with this blog. Creating a blog seems like creating a child (I obviously have neither...until now) - so much upkeep and responsibility! At least if I ignore this, the Department of Child Protective Services won't come take me away. Although I didn't totally read the "Terms of Agreement," so I'm not 100% sure on that.

My plan is to recount my journey as I start my year as Chief Resident here in LA. That's like being made the Head Peon, so it only sounds prestigious. I will be in charge of putting together the schedules of about 100 residents, making sure they get the proper education during the year, scheduling conferences for them, serving on some administrative committees, etc etc. For this I will be paid just a few peanuts more than my previous salary. Ah, but that's another topic for another day...