Author Archives: Valerie Brooke

Born and raised in Vermont, moved to Portland, OR to attend college, had a daughter, got married (yes in that order), then got the crazy idea in my late 30’s to go to medical school. Which is what this blog is all about – the four long, exciting, and arduous years of medical school.


For anyone who’s gone through the whole medical school process, you know that you will have your share of interviews. First there’s “getting into medical school” interviews, then “getting into residency” interviews, for some “getting into fellowship” interviews….and the most important of all, “getting your first job out of residency” interviews. All my interviews prior […]

It never ends

The other day our department chair gave us a lecture about time management. The first thing he said was “it’s only going to get busier.” Then he spent the rest of the hour giving us his tips for success, one of which was to get up at 5 or 5:30 am daily. (He is one […]


Last month I finished a rotation in traumatic brain injury, which is one of the craziest rotations during our residency. Patients who have had brain injuries go through a certain series of stages during their recovery, one of which may include yelling at you, swearing at you, saying sexually inappropriate things, or playing in their […]

Where have I been?

I have discovered that being in medicine has sucked the creative energy right out of me. Part of the reason is that it’s so time consuming, so intellectually stimulating, and so emotionally exhausting, that by the end of the day, week, or month, I can no longer find that inspired voice inside my head. But […]

And 6 months later…

I am still alive, and actually doing just fine. I have no excuse as to why the long break from my writing. At times I feel like I am transforming so much that I cannot put it into words. I am both shocked that I am a doctor, and yet also quite comfortable making decisions […]

Step #3

It’s true what they say: the step 3 board exam is by far the easiest of all the board exams. While this is true, I wouldn’t recommend the historically repeated study schedule: 2 weeks for step 1, 2 days for step 2, and a number 2 pencil for step 3. You know this must have been […]

Code Status

The concept of code status is something very familiar to most of my medical collegues, as well as anyone who has worked in a hospital and has heard the unfortunate “Code Blue” anouncement over the loudspeaker. Or anyone who has watched any of the current medical dramas on TV for that matter. Code status is […]

Aches and Pains

Just finished a rotation in Rheumatology, a specialty of internal medicine that treats diseases related to inflammation of the joints and soft tissues. I saw my share of rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and Lupus. I also got to take care of patients with more rare diseases such as scleroderma, Sjogrens, and vasculitis (inflammation of the blood […]

Night and Day

I’m just about finished with a fast and furious rotation in the emergency room of a busy downtown Pittsburgh hospital, and my shifts are full of adrenaline, fun, frustration, and lots of learning. But I suppose I should back up a month and fill in the gaps. The last rotation was also a wonderful rotation, […]

Intern 101

After 2 months of easier rotations, I finally got thrown into the real work of internship – a month on the hospital floors. For those in the field of medicine, there’s no need to explain the stress and anxiety in that first month, and for those lucky enough to not be in health care, just […]