Local Voices

The Drive to Succeed

Before I joined the Lonesome Pine Family Medicine Residency Program in Norton, I took a long career break. I thought my biggest challenge would be getting back into medicine with younger, “fresh out of med school” residents. It turns out, that was not it at all.

I live in Kingsport, TN. Most of my rotations are in Big Stone Gap or Norton, VA. 50-mile door-to-door distance, it takes nearly an hour drive through mountain roads. I was excited about restarting my medical training, so the distance or drive was not going to dampen my spirit. Over the next 3 years, I tried different things to utilize those two hours a day. I tried it as my “thinking time”, to mull over various matters of life, friends, colleagues or patients, so by the time I am home, I am not carrying them in my head anymore. I also tried it as my talk show catch up time. I would pull them up in my phone and listen through the car audio. But near exam time, I started listening to the AAFP Board Preparation audios in the car. They were very useful, and they were presented by some great physician educators. Some of the presenters were faculty who make the board and in-training exam questions. I made it my routine to listen to them during all my drives to and from residency rotations. As I advanced in my residency, I started to feel intimidated by them. If they talked about something I was not familiar with, I would feel shame. They spoke about various medical topics as if they were common knowledge, yet I did not know anything about them!

Life became increasingly challenging between the pandemic turning normalcy upside down and trying to balance my residency and personal life. I began to get nervous about my ability to pass the exam. With a lot of encouragement and help from my wonderful colleagues and faculty in my program, I continued with my “prep”. I took my board exam in April and was expecting the results in 6 weeks. Imagine my surprise when I got a preliminary result of pass, one week after the exam!

I got the results during the day, and on my drive back I turned on the AAFP Board Prep audios. This time it felt different. I was not intimidated. Instead, it felt as though I was having a casual, knowledgeable conversation with colleague.

And now, I am ready to travel far as a doctor, in every sense of those words.

Manju Pushkas, DO

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