The gut, the brain, the heart: one pack of note cards to rule them all.

Hey, guys! Long time no see!! And so much has happened since the last time we talked…

I soaked up a few glorious moments of Miami sun. I turned 31 and ate Mexican food. I got the grays dyed right out of my hair. I found out that my friend Jess is basically an international celebrity and am still riding a total pride high over it. And the biggest deal of all? Boston got snowed on!!!

Perhaps you’d already heard?

There are a lot of ideas swirling around in my noggin… some have even made it onto the screen in short bursts. I want to tell you about why 31 was almost not but actually is just fine. I want to confess to you about the guilt I harbor over my reaction to Paul Tangen in the sixth grade. I want to tell you about the new church I am desperate to join– the Church of Marie (although Marie seems to think it makes her sound too “deified” so I’m working on another name). I want to tell you why I think gonorrhea is better than cookies.

So many ideas!

But for now, because I’m having a tough time getting this thing up and running again, I’m going to piggyback on my friend Aimee’s suggestion (not this Aimee, or this Aimie, or even my other friend Amy), but Aimee… Aimee from gonorrhea-land. One of my most favorite curly girls on this great green earth. She likes note cards, you see, and so do I. And when she saw my latest, greatest note card insanity in a Facebook post, she wanted to know more about it. So I’m going to tell you more about it.

Then maybe, on account of being inspired by this particular Aimee (oh how I love all A-MEs! never met a bad one!) we can seamlessly transition into the gonorrhea vs. cookie debate. It’s fun to inspire people to talk about STDs and cool to encourage people to talk about bake goods. Both? Ah-dang.

So… this:

note cards

Note cards. Love them. Multi-colored note cards? Too bad I’m already married…

Seriously though, this was a genius idea born of self-preservation and I’m not even going to be humble about it at all. Buckle up.

Sister Doctor is about to get officially doctorified: M-period-D-period.

Only two more steps on the way to surgical oncologist-dom.

Two more steps… nine-ish more years.

Approximately seven in the next locale. Seven years in a general surgery residency. And Sister Doctor is in high demand. Stellar test scores, glowing recommendations, research experience, honors up the wazoo, you know. All these programs are falling all over each other begging her to come here, no here, no here!!

It’s a good problem to have, of course. But also makes for a tough decision. Seven years. Surgery residency. Nothing to sneeze at.

Especially if the wind of your sneeze is likely to mess up your beautiful note care display. Got to be careful, you know! This kind of thing takes a lot of work.

Let’s be real honest for a second though.

Sister Doctor was driving me cra-zy! She was obsesssssssssing. Out loud. To me. To my husband. To my dog. To my house.

It was, shall we say, unproductive. And a bit annoying.

Real annoying.

So I brainstormed. I bought some note cards. Sister Doctor and I brainstormed again, together this time. And then I sent her quietly on her way to fill out the note cards.

Hear that?

Quiet, productive obsessing.

That’s my kind of obsessing.


I don’t want to make light of this decision, because it’s a big one for Sister Doctor and Mr. Doctor and little puppy Doctor too. But I think that after nearly 20 interviews all over this great big country (truly east coast to west coast and back again and again and again), Sister Doctor had something of a gut feeling about what felt right.

But to trust the gut?!

On something this big?!

Heck to the no.

A decision this big calls for options, priorities, pros, cons, and the like. So that’s what we did.

First, I asked Sister Doctor to describe the things that mattered to her. We made a list.

Then we reviewed the list of 13 items and ranked them in order of importance. Each institution was assigned a color and we wrote out each of the thirteen questions on a note card in the appropriate color. Sister Doctor spent the next week (quietly) writing out the answers and this week, we laid it all out… to see what would happen.

The 13 criteria down the left, the five institutions across the top with a strand of yarn down the middle to divide the pros (left) from the cons (right). Straddlers are neutral of course. And we laid out the cards– let the chips fall where they may.

Except what if you hate where the chips fall?

Just as telling! If you’re not sure about your gut feeling before the cards– I guarantee you will be after. There’s no mistaking the disappointment you’ll feel if the choice that pops out on top isn’t the one you really want.


So… did it work? Too early to tell. The cards are still on the table. We’re still a hemming and hawing. But Sister Doctor will get there, she’ll make a decision. And she’ll, at the very least, know that she’s thought it out very, very carefully.

Of course, there’s no perfect decision. Never is. Nothing’s perfect. So it’s still hard. But the note cards have made it a little easier for Sister Doctor to think about.

A little quieter for the rest of us in the house.

Win-win. We’re all looking forward to match day!


Doesn’t matter how you do it, getting to doctor-dom is a headache. Note cards help.

… or construction paper…

Back in our day, it was construction paper and colored markers all the way to quals... doctor-dom, a headache no matter what.
Back in our day, it was construction paper and colored markers all the way to quals… doctor-dom, a headache no matter what.


For seriously though, you know what you know. It’s there, it’s in your head, your heart, your gut. But getting the three to connect? That can be somewhat tricksy. That’s where the note cards really come into play. They can reinforce what you feel, they can make it become what you know, and ultimately, what you believe. It never hurts to just see it all laid out there in front of you.

I’ve been doing it for years. Decades even. The note card industry basically survives because of people like me. I’m ok with that.



Fun Fact: The big and famous surgeon who wrote Sister Doctor’s most glowing and influential recommendation letter recently SLAMMED a paper I’ve been working on for over a year with a local endocrinologist. I’m super happy for Sister Doctor, but if I ever get a goiter, I’m leaving it in just to spite Mr. Oh-So-Famous Surgeon Man. That’ll show him!

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