Or, "Again, It Takes a Village..."
This post has been waiting for a long time. Several years ago, I wrote a post about what it means to be Board "Eligible." Every branch of medicine has their own way of ensuring that their physicians are properly certified to practice medicine. For OB-GYN, as with most surgical specialties, that certification includes an oral examination. My timeline went something like this:
June, 2009: Graduation from residency, pass written exam (which made me eligible to apply for the oral exam in 2 yrs)
July 2010-June 2011: Collect information on EVERY patient in OB and GYN that I take care of at Tenwek (a "case list" used for the examination)
May, 2011: Realize I missed the deadline for applying for the oral examination for that fall. Panic. Email the board requesting an exception. Get denied. Ask if I can at least use my same patient list that I have been collecting at great effort for the last year. Get approval for this.
February, 2012: Apply to take the oral exam for fall of 2012. Get accepted. Pay lots of $$.
July 2012: Submit my case list to the board for approval. Pay lots more $$. Find out my test will be sometime during the first week of November.
October 2012: Get my official date for the exam; book travel from Paris to Dallas, TX (more $$)
November 8, 2012: TAKE MY BOARDS
So you see, for me, this process was more than three years in coming. It culminated in an examination that lasted only three hours, one that was incredibly challenging and left me wondering if I had really studied anything for the past six months. It left me honestly wondering, as I walked out of the testing center, if all had been for naught, since I was pretty sure I hadn't passed the exam. But lo and behold, 4 days later the Board notified me that I had passed.
I learned a lot during this experience (not the least of which was a lot of information about OB-GYN which I'm sure will be extremely helpful in year to come)...more than enough for several blog posts. I learned a lot about what my worth as a person is based on. But what I want to focus on today is that I do not, and never really have, work alone. I was only able to pass this test thanks to the efforts of literally hundreds of people.
1. My awesome husband, who spent more than his fair share of time watching the kids and taking care of house stuff while I tried to study as much as possible. Along those lines, my McCropder teammates who also volunteered many times to watch the kids or have us over for dinner so I could study. Eric, Alyssa, and Jason also graciously gave me "mock" oral exams so I could practice the format.
2. The nurses at Tenwek, who spent a lot of time recording the information that I needed to collect for my case list.
3. My OB "consultants," Bryan and Toanh Popp, who reviewed my case list, provided advice, and encouraged me along the way that it was possible to pass the exam.
4. My friend Christina, who graciously loaned me her 1100 page syllabus from an OB-GYN review course to aid in my studies.
5. A number of Tenwek missionaries who spent a fair amount of time tracking down the right people to sign the right paperwork at the hospital, then scanning and sending it to me.
6. I have no idea, but I'm guessing there were probably close to 1000 people in at least 7 time zones praying for me during my test. That knowledge alone carried me through. Really. The night of my test, as I lay in bed thinking of all the answers I had probably gotten wrong, all the things I should have said, the only way I was able to calm down and fall asleep was knowing that...1, I felt like I had prepared all I could to take the test; 2, I felt like taking the test was the best stewardship of the abilities and training God had given me; and 3, There was a body of believers lifting this up in prayer. What more could have been done?
So thank you all for getting me through this major milestone. I will never have to do this again! Praise God.
Love and thanks,
Rachel McLaughlin, MD
Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology