Spreadsheet

There are some days where I absolutely love where I am in my life. Some days, it’s hard to see the big picture. Some days, I’m just exhausted. Most days, I feel like I’m not being a good student, wife, mother, or all three. And then there are days where David shares a project he’s been working on–a massive spreadsheet with every residency program in my desired (for now) specialty, cross-referenced with programs that have my desired (for now) fellowship, listed by state, and whittled down by what states we’d consider living in. It makes a world of difference knowing he believes in me even on my off days where I can’t think long-term. I love him so much. I couldn’t do this without him.

And now–back to biostats. I promise I will eventually finish the drafts in my queue. There are so many projects in the works that I am excited to share!

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Prioritizing Date Night in Med School

I couldn’t be a successful medical student if I didn’t have David in my life. He has encouraged and supported me throughout this entire mess, ever since I met him when I was in grad school. My relationship with him has been challenged because of my pursuit of this dream, which is why I chose to write about what worked for us, as far as prioritizing time together even though I have very little free time.

And so, here is the link for another piece I wrote for in-Training.org, about how we make our relationship work while I’m in medical school.

Married Medical Student: Prioritizing Date Night

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Milestone

As I’ve mentioned before, at the end of second year, we take the first of our exams that allow us to be licensed physicians, the USMLE Step 1 exam. There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t talk about it. But last night it became a lot more real. I submitted the first part of my application to be able to take Step 1 (and then promptly got nauseated!). There’s still more paperwork to finish and a latent period, but the first steps have been taken. It’s real now. I plan on taking the exam around the beginning of June, so I am 8 months away.

As far as school goes, though, second year has not been the nightmare I expected. Maybe I’m just used to the pace by now. (Maybe I’m doing better because I no longer have pregnancy brain?) Granted, we have an ICM block exam this Friday, and our second Block exam is next Friday. I’m hoping these go as well as the first one.

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Ace Your Med School Interviews!

If you’re in the middle of applying to med school for next fall, you’ve probably been anxiously awaiting the all-important final step: the invitation to interview. Accepted.com is hosting an event to make sure you ace your interview and get that acceptance to your dream school!

Ace that Med Interview!

You’ve made it this far. Don’t blow your medical school interview simply because you didn’t prepare! Keep the following checklist handy when prepping for your interview.

Medical School Interview Checklist

ü  Prepare interesting questions.

ü  Do thorough program research.

ü  Dress appropriately.

ü  Attend Accepted’s upcoming webinar Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews (details below)!

Cross the last thing off your list first THIS Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 5:00 PM PT/8:00 PM ET. Reserve your spot here: Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews

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Overheard

Today, on the campus shuttle:

“I don’t understand the difference between moderate and severe heart failure. If the heart is failing, it’s like a machine and it just fails, right? Oh, so you have it? Do you still have hope? Don’t worry, they’ll beat it out of you. It might take a few years, but they’ll beat it out of you. Then you’ll be like me, going home, sitting on the couch every single night, and having a beer. Yeah, they’ll beat it out of you.”

I was speechless. Is this how the medical profession is viewed from most patients’ point of view?! In class we’ve started organ systems for this block, and have had cardiac and pulmonary path/pharm. We’ve learned a lot about heart failure, its physical exam steps, treatments, and the like, in addition to taking on a lot of new topics in our standardized patients like how to take a sexual health history, delivering bad news, domestic violence counseling, assessing suicidality, dealing with difficult patients, and other complex communication skills. I have really enjoyed this labs so far this year–the more difficult, the better, since third year is rapidly approaching.

I really wanted to help this person on the shuttle. We don’t get to see the day-to-day lives of our patients. We can learn all we can about congestive heart failure, but we can still miss the person behind the diagnosis. This is why humanism in medicine is so important to me. What would I have done if this person was my patient and showed up in my exam room? This person is clearly not happy with their care, or level of communication with their physician.

This gives me a lot to think about… especially now as I go back to studying cardiac pharm.

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Immiscible

Today I felt like a drop of oil in a glass of water.

Every fall, my university hosts a research conference for graduate and professional students. The students that participated in the Summer Research Scholars Program (SRSP) are required to present their projects from their 10-week program placement. Since I haven’t presented my research on campus, and I did my research on this campus, I thought I’d submit an abstract to see if it would be accepted. I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice public speaking as well as to get some feedback, since I don’t have a PI (primary investigator), and as prep for next month’s conference (that I am SO excited to have been accepted into!).

Well, this was nothing like I expected. The website to submit abstracts was difficult to navigate, and I guess maybe that should have been an omen. I submitted my abstract and waited weeks without hearing if I had been accepted or not. There was no place on the submission page to choose a category either, which I was used to from other conferences. The day before the conference, I looked up my abstract to see if I had an ID number, since I still hadn’t heard. When I saw that I had a number, I prepped my poster and presentation for today.

Maybe I should have read the fine print a little better. Like I had noticed, there were no categories at this particular conference. All of the med students were lumped into one time slot, in alphabetical order. It looked like everyone else, or at least a large majority, was in the SRSP program (which I wasn’t, due to being heavily pregnant by that time of the summer–and turning it down for the peds externship), and we were arranged in alphabetical order by last name. My poster stuck out like a sore thumb, since my project didn’t fit the Western blot, animal model, immunofluorescence model that many of the other biomedical posters highlighted. I would have been better off presenting with the public health posters, but that wasn’t an option for me.

So, I was nervous before my time to present to the judges. There were two that visited my poster for my 10-minute allotment. I wanted to address the dissimilarity of my poster first, which was not met with much understanding–I was immediately met with negativity, even before I got to introduce myself. The judges did not seem interested in my project at all since it didn’t fit the biomedical mold. One of them would not even look at me or my poster, and the other argued against my basic premise right out of the gate. After attempting to explain my background for the fourth time and being immediately shut down despite my clear explanation and evidence, I gave up. I don’t think I even used half of my time allotment, and I didn’t even get to outline my entire project. I was disappointed and a bit dejected. So when the preliminary time was over, I took down my poster and headed home. I was relieved when the judges moved on to the next presenter. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that my project wouldn’t be well-received, or even received at all. The NSRF Conference last April went very well–I had a lot of interest in my project, and I scored really well, by all four judges. The feedback I got from them was excellent, and I made adjustments to my manuscript based on the encouragement and suggestions I received.

In speaking of my manuscript, it’s still just sitting there on my table, waiting on me to submit the final draft. In all honesty, I’m scared to submit it. This project has been my baby for so long; I’m afraid it will be rejected and dismissed much like my presentation today. Not having a PI or mentor for this project has not helped my insecurity, since I’ve never submitted a manuscript to a journal like the Journal of Clinical Ethics before. I have worked so hard on this. I guess I just need to suck it up and submit it already, and let what will be, be, so I can move on to other projects.

By now, you’d think I’d be used to being the odd man out of the group. I hate it when I get the stink eye over being a bioethicist in the healthcare field. Overall, though, I’m still glad I went. I completely understand that not everyone will identify with my project or even like my idea. That’s fine. I think I’m mostly disappointed with the lack of constructive feedback so I can prepare a bit more for the next conference next month. I did learn a lot, though. I now know that I need to thoroughly consider my target audience, and do a bit more research before I submit future abstracts. (I really, really wish they would have rejected my abstract submission if it didn’t fit what they wanted!) Thankfully, I’ve also got some ideas about how to tweak my future directions so my research interests can reach a larger audience. Today was not a wasted day.

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The Aftermath of Block 1

220 questions. Roughly five hours of testing, with only a total of 1/2 hour of break time. 160-ish students in one large lecture hall.

That was my Friday.

index

I lost count of how many hours I spent studying this week. I spent every day (except for Monday–the holiday) in the library surrounded by books. So far in my medical school career, I have avoided looking like the picture above. This week was different though. This week, I most definitely looked like that.

I was so worried right before the exam(s). I didn’t feel like I knew the drugs in pharm well enough. We had four separate exams, 50 or so questions each, and a little over an hour to do each one. Then we got an optional ten minute break in between. I used all of my breaks to catch my breath, grab a drink, and focus before the next set. This was definitely a different setup from what I’m used to (I’m used to knowing my score right after I submit my exam–but since each set was a mix of micro/pharm/path/TBL, there was no way to gauge how well I was doing on each section).

It actually went by pretty quickly. Since I was done and had nothing to study earlier than usual, I left campus and picked up Ladybug at daycare early, and had a mommy-and-daughter afternoon.

Early in the afternoon, we were notified that the scores were all in and posted. I’m quite pleased. There’s still room for improvement, and I do plan on adjusting my study habits a bit, but overall, this first block exam wasn’t too bad.

Today, then, was a Saturday where I had absolutely NOTHING to study. It’s been a welcome change! The day was spent catching up on other projects and lots of hugs/cuddles/smiles/laughs with the little one. Such a good day! I could definitely get used to this!

In other news….I got to meet with my new Advisory Dean. We are assigned an Advisory Dean when they sort us into Colleges (akin to Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat) before first year. Mine took a job in a new state, so I got a new one… and it’s Dr. T! One of my absolute favorite people that I’ve met since starting med school.

Now that I’ve gotten a reprieve, be on the lookout for more exciting stuff from me! There are ongoing projects, and I hope to be able to share them soon. Still living the dream, even if this week of studying for Block 1 kinda sucked at times.

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Is it Saturday yet?

I am currently in the library for what feels like the billionth hour this week, studying for tomorrow’s massive block exam. I think my brain is going through liquifactive necrosis.

Yes, I already want to take a nap tomorrow.

But for now, back to studying.

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Random Act of Kindness

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of RAK’s (Random Acts of Kindness), but usually I am on the giving end instead of the receiving end.

Until today. Thank you so much, Sarah and Rachel, for your kindness. Totally unexpected, but wholly and completely appreciated. You are directly responsible for this med student and mommy’s ability to stay awake this morning while studying Pharmacology (finally learning treatments, yay!). Thank you, thank you, thank you. This has been a long week and I am so glad it is finally Friday.

One week til our Block 1 Exam. No more classes until then. I really want to smash this thing. So, back to the books. Just keep swimming!

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I Thought I was Done with Bodies

I thought I was done. I thought it was a one-and-done sort of deal. I was wrong.

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At one point, I thought that just maybe I might be interested in Forensic Pathology. How cool would it be to get to the bottom of why someone died, so that you could help grieving families by coming to a firm answer for their loved one’s death? Maybe I had watched too much Dr. G: Medical Examiner.

While taking Gross Anatomy, those thoughts quickly dissipated. I had really looked forward to dissecting before actually having to do it, because I knew the experience would be so special, learning from the ultimate teacher. What I didn’t expect from that experience, however, was that I would be so turned off by the things that my own two hands had to do to another person, even if he or she was not living. I don’t know how many times I apologized to my donor for the things my hands were about to do. If I didn’t have the exception that came along with the title of “medical student”, the things that I was required to do in order to learn would have been considered a felony. The amount of responsibility and trust was not lost on me. When I left the Gross Anatomy lab on that final day, I thanked our donor one last time, threw away my greasy gloves, and walked out the door without looking back. I was done. I had passed that rite of passage of becoming a doctor and I was relieved that I never had to do that again. We had also had a Fresh Tissue lab, and I was so glad I never had to go into those doors ever again. I treasure the gift the donors made, but I do not want to be the one whose hands have to do those things.

However… now that we are in Pathology and Pathophysiology, one of our required assignments is to view an autopsy. As soon as I saw that written into our syllabus, my stomach turned. I understand the importance of autopsies and the answers they can give to families and the wealth of knowledge that I can learn from watching a real one in person, but I am not particularly looking forward to it. (To think I used to watch Dr. G while eating dinner…) I am glad that I am not the one performing the autopsy, but I am also looking forward to checking off that requirement and moving on. My date to check with the office is fast approaching. I am not sure how I will handle it when the time comes.

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