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Second year medical student, wife, new mom, bioethicist, biochemist, traveler, writer, life enthusiast. I dream of saving babies with medicine, traveling the world, and being an agent of change. Follow my blog to see the adventures and misadventures I have while being a physician-in-training!
I haven’t written anything lately for this blog. Block 3 is already upon us. (Seriously. There’s only 7 blocks for the YEAR and we’re at the 3rd one already?) I have no idea where the month of October went, but it went far too quickly.
Here is what has been keeping me busy, outside of schoolwork and wife/mom time:
My sister-in-law’s wedding. Megan and Dustin got married on the same night as our annual Halloween party at school, affectionately called Cadaver Ball. I didn’t get to go last year due to being sick (from pregnancy….that no one knew about at the time), and I was really hoping to go this year. The wedding was pretty nice (given the pickup trucks that served as an aisle, the barn in the background, and the Jack Daniels’ label invitations…), we got to see family, and our sweet Ladybug was good as gold, as usual. It was wonderful, but we got home really late, which I hadn’t planned on.
Aunt Kathy’s Kicked Cancer Party! My aunt(-in-law) finished her chemo for breast cancer, and her daughter planned a wonderful surprise party for her. It was so much fun to get to surprise her (and she loved spending more time with Ladybug!). We are so proud of her!
My birthday! So this year has been nuts so far and I kinda forgot my own birthday. Because it’s not a big deal anymore. I’m fine with keeping this number as my “last birthday” and letting that be that. I had family and a friend over for chili (that I made), we ate a grocery store cake (I wasn’t baking my own cake on a Tuesday…), and I went to bed early. Such excitement, I tell you.
My article was picked up by SDN! And…. my editors have asked me to start writing a column since the feedback and viewership of my last article was so positive! I am very excited about this!
In speaking of publications, a piece I wrote has been accepted for publication it the next edition of Abaton! This makes my second piece published here.
The Biennial Conference of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation was held in Atlanta, and my abstract was presented! I’m hoping to get to go again during 4th year; maybe as a spinoff project from my Distinction Track.
Ebola Fundraiser: a professor at my school has been at home in Sierra Leone treating Ebola patients while working for an NGO, and has finally been allowed back to the States to teach. She has graciously accepted our invitation to speak about her experiences to our Global Health Interest Group. Ebola is ubiquitous in the news lately, and there is a lot of misinformation (or just plain BAD information!) circulating in every form. Because of this, and because the problem in Sierra Leone is so severe, a few colleagues and I have been working with the faculty at the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health to put on an information program for health science workers as well a fundraiser to ship supplies to Sierra Leone. This program took place yesterday, and we had a great turnout with lots of great discussion! We are hoping to raise some funds tomorrow night at the “Beers for Ebola” event at a local newspaper.
SMILE: I adore this program. Two shifts every month, I have the privilege to spend time playing with the kiddos in the hematology/oncology ward at our freestanding children’s hospital. This has been an eye-opening program and I have learned so much about the humanistic side of medicine through interacting with these kids and their families. I admire the courageous kids and the strength of the parents. I have no idea how they are able to cope, but they are an inspiration to me.
St. Baldrick’s: St. Baldrick’s is an organization that supports children with cancer. Volunteers (“shavees”) shave their heads to be in solidarity with these kids, while raising funds for pediatric oncology research. While I have the opportunity to shave my head, I think I will bypass that and offer to donate my hair to make wigs for pediatric cancer patients. I’ve donated my hair before, but this offers the opportunity to also raise funds for a worthy cause! Feel like donating? Visit their website at:
Systole: Our school’s literary magazine is now completely student-led, and is currently accepting submissions. I haven’t worked on a literary magazine in a few years, so I’m excited for this opportunity.
Heart2Heart Discussion Series: There is a group on campus composed of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to fostering humanism in medicine. This group is an umbrella for several programs–a chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, the literary magazine Systole, and the Heart2Heart discussion series. Last year a session was held on human trafficking, including how to spot instances of trafficking and who to turn to for help for these (usually) women. This year, we’re working on having two sessions, one later this semester and one in the spring.
These are all the projects that I’m working on for the year, which keeps me engaged and foster my interests outside of medicine. Sometimes, I get volunteered for stuff that I don’t want to do. I don’t know who thinks this is funny or a good idea, but I am definitely going to have to start saying NO. For instance, back at the beginning of the semester, someone gave my name to a professor who needed volunteers for an event. The professor asked that information be shared with the listserv email addresses, and I was cc’d on this email. Since I had no idea what they were talking about and it didn’t seem to pertain to me, I ignored the email. A week later, I got a very nasty email about not having a list of volunteers yet. So I rounded up quite a few volunteers, only to be told the very next day that they weren’t needed. This was a giant Charlie Fox that I hope to avoid in the future.
This year is flying by. I’m having so much fun (But I’m still learning a ton and working really hard!). Overall, though, this is exactly why I love medicine so very much–you can do just about anything you want, from teaching to research to literary art to fundraising for good causes… it’s incredible. I’m still going to lectures, using an insane amount of resources (including First Aid for the USMLE Step 1–which I officially registered for today!), sleeping, playing with my Ladybug when I pick her up from daycare, and doing well in classes. There IS time for life outside of school and doing stuff that I love. I’m having a blast as a second-year medical student!
When I was interviewing for medical school, one of my interviews was an “MMI”… a multiple mini interview. This was my only interview in this format, and I didn’t know how to effectively prepare for it. The interview I went to consisted of multiple scenarios and we were to explain our thought process of how to handle the cases. I could have used some help in preparing for this format. If you have an upcoming interview scheduled that is an MMI-format and are looking for some guidance, see the details below for Accepted.com’s next webinar!
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The MMI format ensures that you are given a fair evaluation. It’s designed to help med school interviewers identify the strengths that you will bring to your medical training by going beyond the traditional conversation interview style. Seeing you in different scenarios will help them envision you in different scenarios in med school and in the medical field. You can do this!
Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2014
Time: 5:00 PM PST/8:00 PM EST
Registration link: Multiple Mini Interview: Method or Madness?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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Medical School Interview Checklist
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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.
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.
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.
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.