It’s nuts that just over a week ago, I was heading down to the Keys and today I’m hanging in the library. I shared a bit on my Instagram, but I wanted to give a more in-depth look at my amazing weekend. It is definitely a perk of attending medical school in Florida that I was able take an exam last Friday morning and then be in Key West by dinnertime.
One of the awesome things about my school is the health fairs that we have around South Florida. Usually once a month, our student-run Department of Community Service operates an all-day fair that offers free health care services in underserved communities — everything from well-woman exams and glaucoma screenings to bone density tests and skin cancer screenings. Students perform a lot of the care alongside resident and attending doctors — it’s an amazing way to learn clinical skills and interact with amazing patients — and then patients meet with a physician to determine a care plan or any necessary referrals.
This health fair took place at three sites in one day — students and physicians were spread between three different Florida Keys. Since we all stayed in Key West, I was treated to a peaceful, if early morning, drive to my site. The sunrise did not disappoint — and pictures simply cannot do it justice.
I’m pretty sure I’ll end up practicing in a pediatric specialty or emergency medicine, but I do find the eye pretty fascinating, so I was excited to work at the ophthalmology station again! The eye is the only place in the body you can see arteries and a nerve without needing to cut into the skin — how cool is that?! I performed visual acuity assessments — you know the one, where you stand and read the letters on a chart to determine your distance vision. I was also able to do glaucoma screenings — we take a measurement of pressure inside the eye with a really cool instrument called a Tonopen. If the pressure is high, it could be indicative of glaucoma. It is important to catch and treat glaucoma, as it can result in damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. There were also some incredible ophthalmologists working at the station and during downtime between patients, they helped the students practice using an ophthalmoscope (a special tool that shines light into the eye and allows you to visualize important vasculature) and taught us how to take a high-tech picture of the optic nerve. They were fantastic teachers and made me even more interested in ophthalmology, at least for now!
After the last patient, I headed back to Key West to enjoy some appetizers and downtime. I had a delicious dinner with my friends at DJ’s Clam Shack (as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) and then wandered around Duval Street in search of key lime pie. The people watching in Key West is very unique — we saw a bride in a full wedding dress walk out of a bar! The vibe definitely reminded me of New Orleans. I was back at the hotel before midnight with some snacks and Netflix. It was the best way to end a long, but rewarding day!
On Sunday morning, we grabbed the best breakfast in Key West before hitting the road. If you’re ever in Key West, you MUST go to Cuban Coffee Queen. Everything is SO GOOD. And they roast their own coffee right on the island!
After we fueled up, it was time to hit the road to Bahia Honda State Park. The beach was pretty devastated by Hurricane Irma last year but it’s still a gorgeous place to enjoy the perfectly clear blue-green water of the Keys and bring out your inner marine biologist. There were so many fish in the shallow water!
After a few hours of sun (and sunscreen of course!), we packed up and headed to our final stop of the drive — the Blonde Giraffe in Tavernier for key lime pie. I’m not a huge key lime pie fan, but my slice with chocolate and whipped cream was pretty phenomenal. We ate outside and enjoyed the company of some very large chickens and bunny rabbits.
I made it back to my apartment with just enough time to shower and head to a friends place to watch the Superbowl. It was nice to hang out and relax together, even if the game was pretty boring until the end. The weekend ended as most of them do these days — I checked my online course calendar and made a to-do list for the next morning. And it’s been never ending since Monday. I have a few more lectures to watch today, a problem set to get through for a small-group session tomorrow, a book chapter to read, and hopefully a short workout.
It’s hard to believe I was down in the Keys less than a week ago. I can’t wait to get back there — the stress just melts away!