Ok. I’m going to be honest here.

Ever since Carina decided to become a doctor about eight years ago, I’ve always sorta felt sorry for FM docs. I mean, they go to all that stress, time and effort to plow through medical school, and then they never got to do any of the really cool doctor stuff, like see the insides of people’s bodies, or send probes into blood vessels, or insert gigantic needles into spinal columns, or even intubate emergency patients in the ER. They just sit in a clinic, see endless cases of runny noses, acne, and skin rashes, hand out prescriptions, and refer away anything remotely interesting to the specialists. Read the rest of this entry »

David Kenneally and his family -- fellow AUC'ers! (...and readers of our family blog)

David Kenneally and his family — fellow AUC’ers! (…and readers of our family blog)

Recently, I received a private message on Facebook from an AUC med student, David Kenneally, who is about two years behind Carina. I have yet to meet him in person, but he found this blog back when we (the Crookstons and Michelle) were all on the island, and apparently Carina’s journey helped convince him to not give up on his medical school dreams. He is a non-traditional student, and has older kids like us.

We’ve kept in touch as he and his family have been on the island. And now that his time there is wrapping up, he politely requested more blog posts about life as an AUC student after-the-island.

He made the comment, “It’s interesting: most blogs leave off after the island. You’ll get a few posts afterwards, but the world of clinicals is very opaque.”

And to be honest, I recall thinking the exact same thing when we were there. What happens next was this big giant mystery.

Read the rest of this entry »

(This was originally a post I made on Facebook on November 30th, 2015.  I’m adding it to the blog to help preserve it, and to make it more available for those who are not FB friends…)

Carina all dressed up for her first residency interview

Carina all dressed up for her first residency interview

Every now and then, life (or God, or Fate, which ever you chose to believe) has a way of throwing you a curve ball.  Recently, in our family’s journey of Carina becoming an M.D., we had one of these curve balls thrown our way, and it has significantly altered our future path.

Those of you who know Carina personally may recall that it has always been her goal to help people who are fighting cancer.  In fact, this desire has been the most singular driving force behind her decision to go into medicine and become a physician, and is rooted in the experiences of her younger sister Amy, who died of cancer when they were both children.

At the end of November, 2015, Carina finished medical school. Phew!  What an accomplishment!  It’s been a long, adventurous, challenging four years!  Andi, Tanner, Piper and I are all proud of her!  After medical school comes residency, a three to four year training program that all physicians must complete in their chosen area of expertise.

Finding a residency, however, is not an easy process.  It used to be that there were more residency spots than med school graduates who wanted them.  But that isn’t the case anymore.  There are now more young, budding M.D.’s who are looking for a residency then there are positions to accept them all. As a result, it’s not uncommon for graduates to apply to a LOT of residency programs all over the country in multiple areas of expertise.  Some of Carina’s preceding class mates applied to more than 100 residency positions. Read the rest of this entry »

Its official, I have ten weeks of my electives done. There are a total of 30 weeks of elective rotations that I am required to take.  And, in these precious ten weeks I have loved each day. I can close my eyes and imagine myself as a family practice doctor. I can also close my eyes and imagine that I’m a radiologist.

I may need nine lives so I can change directions a few times. How will I ever choose?

No More (long) Family Separations:

When Casey and I were on the island we had called the St. Cloud hospital (University of Minnesota family medicine program) to ask if I could do a family medicine rotation in my home town, after my boards and, before the kids would be out of school. The alternative is that I would need to go to New York, California, or Florida, by myself, to do a few electives before my core program in Michigan would begin in July. They told us very kindly that it would not be possible. They said that because SCH (St Cloud Hospital) doesn’t have an affiliation with my medical school it wouldn’t work. I felt calm and knew I wouldn’t give up that easily. Read the rest of this entry »


Tanner and I are back in Minnesota, in our own house, without the girls, which is all rather strange.  It feels terribly familiar and yet half empty at the same time.  It’s odd being back here, after all we’ve been through. And we left this house thinking we’d never come back to it.

I will say this…all the one-on-one time with Tanner might be exactly what our relationship needs.  He and I are both introverts, both not given to excess verbosity. So, the house is kinda quiet most of the time.  And yet when I’m not working, I’m able to devote my attention to him and I’m trying to make this time special for him. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on May 30th, 2013 , AUC: American University of the Caribbean
Breakfast at Ocean Beach Club

Breakfast at Ocean Beach Club

When we all arrived on the island of St. Martin sixteen months ago, the stress of relocation, of being jobless, of being in a strange place, and of med school all made it a challenge to really feel like this island was “home”.  After the last two months Tanner and I spent down there, however, my feelings for this place have changed completely.

I love this island.  I wish I was still there, and I hope I get to go back again before Carina is done in August.  I’m also a little sad it took me so long to feel this way about it.  I’m not saying I didn’t like the island at first… I guess I’m saying that it just took a while to be able to honestly say, “I LOVE it here!” Read the rest of this entry »

For eight months Casey has been persistent in requesting another blog post from me. Up to now I’ve declined, using the “I’m too busy” excuse. But in reality, I’ve tried to write something several times and all I’ve wanted to say is, “I want to go home”. Read the rest of this entry »

Written on April 25th, 2013 , AUC: American University of the Caribbean
Rainbow Beach Sunset

Rainbow Beach Sunset

Last Saturday evening we were all sitting in our Rainbow living room when I happened to glance out the window. The sky was literally on fire with the pink glow of sunset, like I’d never seen before.  I grabbed my camera and ran barefoot down the stairs, across the parking lot, and around the middle building to the pool area.  By the time I got there, the best of the light was gone, but enough of it was still there to grab this photograph.

When I got back, Cari suggested Pizza for dinner.  Nobody felt like cooking, so it sounded like a great idea.  She Skyped in an order to Pizza Dan’s, and 20 minutes later she, Piper, Tanner and I made the short walk to pick it up. It was a pleasant evening… gentle breeze, not too humid, and even a bit cool (for Caribbean standards). Read the rest of this entry »

Carina, holding Piper, volunteering at the tie-die event with at-risk kids.

Yesterday I received the following Facebook message from my sister, Rebecca:  “I’m trying to figure out where you live right now.  Did you get a job that lets you live in St Martin’s? Or are you just visiting? What are school plans for Cari? And how is Andi doing? I guess I’m hoping for an all-around update on life.”

And Rebecca isn’t the only one who has asked us the same thing, so I figured I’d set the record straight.

Yes, I have a fantastic job (with great people) that is 100% remote, meaning I can literally work from anyplace that has a solid and reliable internet connection. I’ve had this job since the end of October, 2012.  So, the obvious question is: Why have Tanner and I not been on the island since I’ve had this job?   Read the rest of this entry »

The ‘Welcome to St. Maartin” sign by which tourists love to take their photos.

It’s good to be back!

Hey, I’ll be honest… I wasn’t at all sad to leave winter behind and come down here with Tanner to spend two months in the Caribbean with the girls!

In the months that I’ve been away, I’ve fielded a lot of comments and questions from people back at home about the island.  As a result it made me realize that I’ve not done a very good job of documenting in this blog what the island of St. Martin is really like.  I vowed that as soon as I got back here, I would take some time to drive around and photograph the inside of the island, away from the beautiful beaches, to show the parts of the island that you’ll never see on postcards and tourist brochures. Read the rest of this entry »

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