Dr. Cranquis is an urgent care physician and author of the blog, Dr. Cranquis’ Mumbled Gripes on tumblr. He writes pseudonymous, hilarious vignettes about his career and journey to medicine. But most importantly, the blog is full of helpful tips for medical school admissions, surviving medical school, and residency. This interview only skims the surface of the mysterious life of Dr. Cranquis, for more information click the links.
1. Tell me about yourself.
I’m a Family Medicine trained physician, practicing Urgent Care ever since finishing residency, working in an undisclosed location in the US for about a decade or so. Details are sketchy because I run a pseudonymous blog in which I talk openly (but in a HIPAA-compliant manner) about everyday patient interactions and the real world of being a US physician.
2. Where did you attend medical school and how was your experience?
My allopathic med school was somewhere in the US (ooh, mysterious!). My experience was quite good regarding the quality of teaching, professors, rotations (except general surgery, but hey, is there such a thing as a GOOD general surgery rotation, asked the Family Medicine physician?), classmates — but it was quite a struggle because (a) it was located very far from family and my long-distance girlfriend/future wife, and (b) I was really not prepared from an emotional and “scholastic” (study skills) standpoint for the onslaught of the first year of med school. It got better, though, as things usually do. I enjoyed that school so much that I stayed at that location for my residency too.
3. What attracted you to the field of medicine?
Aw man, I’m lazy, I just want to point you to my long blog post about that topic. Read, “Could you tell us a bit about the undergrad years?“.
But in summary: I wanted to be a child psychologist, and my dad thought I should push myself to become a psychiatrist instead. I hated the basic sciences, but kept doing JUST well enough to not fail a class (which was my self-created goal for leaving the pre-med pathway). Thankfully, I turned out to be smarter than I thought, and was able to survive the classroom years of pre-med and medicine, in order to get to the FUN of clinical rotations and actually talking/working with real life patients — which I’m darn good at.
4. What were some of your most memorable experiences as a medical student?
Some of my most memorable experiences as a med student (links included for more details) — I’m going to include some residency stuff, since that’s what I’ve written about more:
- “Behind the Medic: Dr. Cranquis’ First Life and Death (and Life) Experience“, the first patient to die on my watch
- Winning the med school talent show competition twice in 4 years (once for performing a Zdogg-style rap of an H&P, years before Zdogg became famous, ahem ahem… and once for doing a totally stupid “Andy Kaufman”-style routine where I was a magician who couldn’t do any magic.)
- “Behind the Medic: Dr. Cranquis’ Funniest Med-School Experience“, my funniest experience ever was on a surgical rotation, of all places.
- “Behind the Medic: When Cranquis Knew He Belonged in Medicine“, realizing that my communication abilities could really make a difference for patients and families
- “Behind the Medic: The Day Cranquis Became a Doctor“, the day/night when I felt all my training truly “click”.
5. How did you prepare for medical school exams and/or standardized exams (MCAT, USMLE, Shelf)?
Preparing for MCAT and USMLE was pretty much a solo process for me, I don’t study well with others or get anything out of paid review courses. As my studying skills evolved in med school, the “Preview-View-Review” Method of studying daily + coalescing all the useful info into review books for slimmed-down exam review made all that easier (read more here). Later still, I started making better use of question banks, which did help a lot too.
6. What interests you most about your specialty?
Despite being trained in Family Medicine, I consider my specialty to be Urgent Care; it doesn’t have it’s own accredited residency programs yet in the US (just fellowship programs, extensions of Family Med residency programs). As for why I love it: it’s Family Medicine on speed, without all the mind-numbing BLAH of handling cholesterol and yearly physicals and all that. Learn more about what it’s like to be an urgent care physician.
7. Describe a “typical” day at work. Is it anything like what you anticipated while you while you were a medical student interviewing for residency?
Well, my typical day at work is an 8 or 12 hour shift of seeing whatever/whomever walks into my Urgent Care (along with 1 or 2 other providers sharing the load), usually seeing 15-20 patients myself in that time, but on crazy days (say, a Monday during flu season) seeing 30 patients or so. The link in #6 explains more about what I do and see when I’m working. And for comparison sake (i.e. to better explain why I DON’T do primary care outpatient medicine and NEVER WILL), here’s a couple posts about:
- The Typical Day for a Traditional Family Medicine Doctor
- Why Your Family Doctor’s Clinic is Always Running Late
8. What are some challenges that you encounter? How do you approach them?
The challenges I encounter all center around how to best communicate with patients to educate them about their illness (or lack of one) — while racing like a madman to see enough patients so that the cost of seeing a patient doesn’t outweigh the (paltry) reimbursement from their insurance.
If I was working for myself, I could never survive financially — but because I work for an Urgent Care owned by a healthcare organization, I can let my employers take the hit and focus on spending enough time with each patient if I feel like it, reimbursement and wait-times be damned.
9. What keeps you grounded and motivated?
My blog keeps my sane. My wife and kids keep me grounded. My faith in God keeps me motivated to do my best for everyone I meet.
10. Do you have any advice for future physicians?
Write the stories down, even if you never share them with anyone else. You think “Oh, I’ll never forget the time THIS happened to me when I was on call or whatever” — but you will. Write them down, and if you can work up the guts, share your stories with colleagues, future colleagues, patients, future patients — anyone is good.
We doctors need to keep highlighting the real-world GRIT of what we do, to help everyone understand what we truly are (hard, underpaid, overworked, smart people who do what we do because we want to help) and aren’t (lazy rich fat cats).
Hope that helps! 🙂
Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.