Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best Moment of 2014

My Favorite Moment in 2014
In 2014, I went skydiving for the first time, explored Mayan ruins in Mexico, said goodbye to Louisiana and hello to Georgia, met the former U.S. Surgeon General, and even got the chance to see Beyoncé perform up close. Nothing compares to this moment right here though...

It’s the last day of 2014, and it has been an amazing year! I posted the above picture and words on my Instagram feed earlier today, but it was too good not to share on the blog. If you’ve managed to keep up with my posts over the past year, then you know that I’ve been a little bit of everywhere and managed to do everything I wanted. Nothing comes close to the day I received my white coat though, as it symbolized everything I had been working for before that point, and everything that I am working towards today. I look forward to everything that 2015 has in store, and I can’t wait to share it all with you guys. I wish everyone reading this a very wonderful and Happy New Year filled with love, happiness, and the conquering of new heights!!!!!

P.S. I’ve been out of town and I’m also a little under the weather at the moment, but to those of you who I promised specific posts to, they will be coming soon!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Feeling Blessed :-)

I should be studying for my exam on Monday, but since I’ve made no progress the last couple of hours, I figured I would take a break and write up a blog post. Today I had my second standardized patient exam, and although I received great feedback at the end, I have a feeling my score will be a bit lower on this one. I was completely nervous for absolutely no reason at all, but my patient said I did pretty well despite it. I hit all my points though and even had enough time to check other systems, so hopefully I still made an A. We also had our first professional class picture taken today, in addition to individual headshots. I can’t wait to see what they look like when they come out. The photographer showed me my individual shots after she took them, and I absolutely loved them! I was happy that I had my patient exam right before I took individual head shots, because I had my stethoscope with me, and it was a great touch to my pictures. I’ll make sure to share them with you guys when they come in :-)

On another note, today marks five years since I received my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, and it has now been a year since I received my master’s degree in the same subject. It’s absolutely crazy thinking about all the changes that have occurred in my life over the past five years. Five years ago on the day I graduated, I had absolutely no idea where my life was going. I knew I wanted to be a physician, but I had not received any acceptances into medical school, and graduation also meant that I could no longer be a student worker at the research lab I was in, so I had no idea what I was going to do about money. I also had to move out of the student apartments that I was living in the day after I graduated, so I didn’t even know where I was going to live at the time. All of this was in addition to trying to raise my daughter, who was a toddler at the time. Looking back, I honestly do not know how I managed to keep my faith through all of it, but I am glad I did because everything always seemed to fall into place exactly when I needed it to. Over the years, I have been blessed beyond measure, and because of that, I try my best to be a blessing to all those around me. Right now, I am where I have wanted to be for what feels like forever, and I get to wake up every day knowing that I am working towards fulfilling my dreams. It honestly doesn’t get any better than that. Welp, just gave myself the motivation I needed to get back to studying, so back to the books I go!

Feeling super official today :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It’s My First Blogiversary!

Exactly one year ago today, I wrote my very first blog post ever! It was something that I had always wanted to do, but for whatever reason, I just kept putting it off. I don’t know what made me decide to start a blog at the time that I did, but I knew I wanted to tell my story and hopefully be a source of inspiration for others. My main goal was to inspire pre-medical students from all backgrounds to push forward and accomplish their goals without any inhibitions. I also needed an outlet for my thoughts, and believe it or not, blogging has been a great stress reliever. I started this blog about a month after I was accepted into medical school, and a year later, I am typing this as a first-year medical student! It’s crazy how many changes have occurred in my life since I first started blogging, and I am super excited about the things that I will get to blog about as I continue my journey through medicine. I know everyone reading this probably leads a very busy life, so I really appreciate anyone taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope you all continue to enjoy my posts as much as I enjoy writing them, and as always, thank you for reading!!!! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Getting into the Holiday Spirit!

Microbe Christmas ornaments that speak to my inner nerd

Today I completed my first exam of the term, and it feels so good to finally be over that hurdle. It still trips me out every time the score pops up on the screen immediately after submitting an exam, but with this being the first exam, I wasn’t too upset with my score. I am just happy that I don’t have to worry about practical exams bringing down my average this term. I also feel like this term may be the best one I have this year, mainly because last term was a struggle and next term we start neuro, which has never been my strongest subject.

Our "first" tree!

On another note, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! My microbe Christmas ornaments arrived last week, and they made me super happy! Nothing rings in the holiday season better than a Rhinovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, E. coli, neuron, and pretty red amoeba :-) I even bought a tree and decorated it with my daughter on Friday. Usually we’re never home for the holidays, so I’ve never actually bothered to buy a tree, but I decided to be a little different this year. It was a fun experience playing Christmas music and decorating the tree with my little one, although I think she was just in it for the candy canes.

I live for that smile :-)

The best part of last week was when I took a little break from lecture to attend a holiday luncheon at my daughter’s school. The look on her face when she saw me was absolutely priceless! I told her I would attend, but obviously she didn’t believe me, so it was nice being able to “surprise” her. It made me realize that while school and my goals are important, it’s not worth missing opportunities to spend special moments with her. People always say that children grow up so fast, and I’m really beginning to see it. So far, I feel like I’ve made a pretty good effort in balancing motherhood with medical school, but I know the quality times spent with my daughter will become few and far between especially when I start rotations. With that being said, I’ll take advantage of our recorded lectures and make an effort to attend more of her school functions and special moments. Unfortunately, she has a class holiday play next week on the same day I have a mandatory lecture, so hopefully I can convince my professor to let me skip out on the first hour.

I never miss an opportunity to bond with my little one!

Other than that, I have an OMM quiz tomorrow and an exam covering managed patient care on Wednesday that I need to study for, so I probably won’t post again until the end of the week or early next week. As always, I love the comments and e-mails that I get from everyone, and I apologize for not being able to respond as fast as I used to, but I promise I will get to them all. I hope everyone has a fantastic week, and hopefully you all are feeling the holiday spirit as much as I am!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Term 2 of Medical School: Let the Fun Begin!

Notes, notes, and more notes!

Last week we started our second term, and it looks like this one will be more intense than last term! Just last week alone, we covered 15 lectures, and that’s saying a lot considering we only had class Monday through Wednesday. It also seems like the professors we have this term are determined to fit as much information as possible into one Powerpoint slide, and the packets are thicker than ever! It definitely looks like I will have to make the switch to a bigger binder before the end of the week, but I don’t feel too overwhelmed yet. Today, we had six lectures over the course of seven hours, and I think the biggest adjustment thus far has sitting in lectures all day. Last term we usually had anatomy or OMM labs in the afternoon to break up the monotony, but anatomy lab has now been replaced with more lectures. The good news is we are now covering the basic sciences that I am familiar with, so I feel completely in my element. I just hope I feel the same way after our first exam next week!

Bonding and education: a win-win for us both!

On a slightly non-school-related note, having an entire week off before second term and an additional two days off after we started was just what I needed! Not only was I able to enjoy my Thanksgiving, but I accomplished all the small tasks I had been putting off for a while. I was even able to pre-read for today’s lectures which is something I never have time to do. My daughter was also happy about the free time, and we put it to good use. Yesterday, we took a trip down to Atlantic Station and explored Bodies: The Exhibition and Extreme Dinosaurs. After studying anatomy and doing dissections for the past thirteen weeks, it was a great experience for me to see all the parts I had worked on beautifully dissected. It put even my best dissections to shame, LOL. I think the only part my daughter enjoyed was seeing the fetuses as they transitioned from just a couple of weeks to a full term infant, but she was blown away by the dinosaur exhibit next door, so it was a win-win for everybody. Other than that, I need to get back to studying, but I hope everyone has a fantastic week! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! There are so many things that I am thankful for that it would be impossible to fit them all into one post. I am beyond blessed, and extremely grateful to be living a life filled with love, happiness, and a peace that helps me get through even the hardest of times. Furthermore, I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, including all of you amazing people who take the time out of your busy lives to read my blog. I wish you all a wonderful day filled with love, family, and good times :-)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Passing my First Term of Medical School and SNMA Region IV Conference Highlights

Can you believe we covered all this in only 13 weeks?!!!!

I officially passed my first term of medical school!!!! Words can’t express how happy I am to finally be finished with anatomy (even though it’s my favorite subject, lol), and being able to have this last week off was soooo needed! I also know I said I would write a few posts and get things accomplished, but for the majority of the week I did absolutely nothing, and it felt so good! I caught up on sleep, watched TV, spent a day in a sauna, went to the movies, and pretty much did any and everything I wanted/had not been able to do these past few months.

GA-PCOM SNMA Chapter at the Region IV Medical Conference

On Friday, I headed to downtown Atlanta for the SNMA Region IV Medical Conference which was held at Morehouse School of Medicine this year. We started off with a tour of the school, and then we toured Grady Hospital which is the largest hospital in the state of Georgia. Later on that evening, a mixer event was held, and it was really nice interacting with other medical students from various schools in the region. I was also very proud of my school’s SNMA chapter for showing up in such a large number. After the mixer, there was another social event at a nearby bar, so we spent most of the night there and had a blast. I have not been able to go out much since school started, so being able to have fun with both my classmates and other medical students was a great experience.

A great conference :-)

On Saturday, the conference seminars started around 8am, and I was very impressed with the selections. “Preparing for the Wards” was the first seminar I attended, and it gave really great information on ways to stick out and receive excellent marks when we start rotations during our third year. After that I headed over to a discussion panel on women in medicine, and we discussed double standards against women in the profession, and the ways that we can stick out and assert ourselves in the field. I also attended a suture clinic in the MSM anatomy lab, and it was really nice to be able to see the difference between their lab and the one in my school. I was also excited when they let us keep the tools we used afterwards! My favorite seminar of the day though was a panel that discussed balancing our personal lives with medicine. It included married, single, and parent physicians, and they all discussed the ways they manage to make it all work for them on a daily basis. We concluded the conference with a banquet that had Dr. Montgomery Rice (Dean and President of MSM) as a keynote speaker, and she also came by our table to speak with us before the dinner began which was really nice. I truly enjoyed being in the presence of such amazing people, and the conference made me want to strive that much harder to achieve my dreams.  

We work hard, and we play hard!

After the closing banquet last night, my classmates and I headed out on the town for one last night of fun before second term starts tomorrow. We danced the night away and had a ton of fun. I even lost my voice, so you know it was a good time, LOL! I’m starting to realize the importance of balancing medical school with a social life, and last night really confirmed that for me. Hopefully, this term I will be able to find that perfect balance that leaves me less stressed out. But anyway, I don’t want to ramble, so I guess I’ll end it here. We start second term tomorrow, and I am ready to put my best foot forward and really conquer this term. I’ll make sure to do a better update later on this week though, so until next time!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Check Out My Article in the JSNMA MAPS Minutes Fall 2014 Edition!

Two hours ago I completed my last final exam and officially ended my first term of medical school! I am so happy to finally be finished, and I am looking forward to a full week of relaxation, sleep, Netflix, and no stress! I also plan on writing a few new posts summarizing my overall experience during first term. For now, please check out my article on pages 11-13 of the JSNMA MAPS Minutes Fall 2014 edition. You can either click here or on the picture above to access the journal. Please let me know what you think and I hope it inspires some of you!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Final Sprint: Finishing Up My First Term of Medical School!

The GA-PCOM D.O. Class of 2018!

In exactly one week I will have completed my first term of medical school! I’m even more excited that afterwards I will have a little over a week to relax and do absolutely nothing! This term has been quite the experience, and although I wouldn’t change any of it for the world, I’m definitely looking forward next term.

Yesterday, we not only had our last lecture of the term, but we also had our last anatomy lab session until we hit neuroscience in the spring. One of my classmates came up with the awesome idea of getting together for an informal class picture, and our class chair pulled it off flawlessly. Anatomy lab is probably the only time that our entire class is in the same room together, so it worked out perfectly. Our professors even got in on the action which made it even better. I’m definitely going to miss my time in anatomy lab. I absolutely loved dissecting (even if it was for 4 or more hours at a time), and it really helped with lecture to be able to visualize the structures. Plus, it really was a nice break from lectures. Starting second term, we won’t have any labs to help bring up our written exam scores, and the entire day will be filled with lectures. I have no idea how I’m going to handle straight lectures from 8am-5pm :-/

The good news about next term is we will be going from SPOM (which covered anatomy, radiology, histology, physiology, and embryology) to the Cellular and Molecular Basis of Medicine (CMBM). CMBM will cover biochemistry, cell biology, clinical medicine, genetics, immunology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. This will be way more subject matter that what we covered in SPOM, but I’m excited because I’m already familiar with most of the subjects. Here’s to hoping my master’s degree in biochemistry comes through for me!  

The end of the term also means final exams, and starting Monday I will have exams every day until Thursday, so I probably won’t post again until I am completely finished. My daughter’s birthday is also next week, so I will have to figure out how to celebrate and keep her happy with exams in the way. Oddly enough I feel really good about the upcoming written exam, but that can always go both ways, so please keep me in your prayers.  We also have an OMM practical along with a PCS final exam, so it’s going to be a very busy time. I hope you all have a fantastic week, and hopefully the next time you hear from me, I’ll be super happy :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Little Mid-Week Inspiration :-)

I know most of you have probably already viewed this video, but it is too good not to share. I've been getting myself down about classes over the last few days, and this was just the pick-me-up I needed to get back in focus. With that being said, there are only 2 weeks left until the term ends, so I am going to finish hard and finish strong!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Being a Single Parent in Medical School: An Update

Not too long ago, someone left a comment under one of my posts asking me about any difficulties or adjustments that I have had to make now that I am balancing school and being a parent completely on my own. To be perfectly honest, there hasn’t been much of a difference between having someone here to help versus doing it solo. I previously had not lived with my significant other, so for me, it was more of an adjustment having to deal with having another person around. I have also raised my daughter on my own since she was around 1, and I find that as she gets older and becomes more self-sufficient, things tend to get a lot easier.

In terms of adjustments, my daughter now takes a bus to after-care every day when she gets out of school, and they are open on school holidays and half-days, so it has not affected my ability to attend classes. I had not taken child care costs into account when I first started school, so that has been a bit of a struggle, but so far we are making out pretty well. My daughter seems to be pretty happy with after-care, and we still have a normal nightly schedule that we follow at home, so that is the only adjustment I have had to make so far.

As for difficulties, I can no longer go to campus or the lab whenever I want, but I tend to study better at home anyway. Due to liability issues, children aren’t allowed on campus, so it does interfere with my ability to attend study groups, but technology is a huge help with this. Online chat groups, Skype, and Facebook have made it easier to study with my classmates and make sure that I am not missing important points. When I have to study at home on the weekends, my daughter has been pretty good about leaving me alone, and I still make sure to completely devote one day a week towards spending time with her. Today we went shopping and carved pumpkins :-) I’m also limited in the amount of social or volunteering events that I can attend, but that just means that I have more time to study. So to make a long story short, being a parent in medical school is definitely a different experience than most other students will face, but it is definitely doable. It’s a balancing act that takes time to perfect (I’m still working on it myself), and there will be times when the dreaded “mommy-guilt” pops ups, but I know what I am doing will benefit both of us in the long run so I keep on pushing. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

White Coat Official!!!!

First selfie in my new white coat!

It feels so good to finally have my white coat! On Saturday, October 18th, GA-PCOM held its White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2018, and it was probably one of the biggest highlights of my life so far. I was lucky to have my parents and my little sister come to town to share in the special occasion (and watch my daughter, lol), and although it was a short ceremony, it was pretty awesome. Our Class Chair gave a speech that pretty much brought everyone to tears, and we even had one of the past students (who is now a 4th year General Surgery Resident) speak about her battle with breast cancer while she attended GA-PCOM and what the white coat means to her. Sitting through the ceremony really made me reflect on everything it took to get to this point, and words really can’t describe how blessed I really am. It’s amazing that something as simple as a white coat can add so much confirmation to my purpose in life. I get really emotional just thinking about it, and I’m nowhere close to even graduating yet, LOL!

But anyway, the majority of this post will be pictures because I need to get back to studying. I had both a written and practical exam today, and I have one more exam to take tomorrow before I can finally relax. While having family in town was nice, it definitely took away from my studying and my written exam score definitely reflected that today, so back to the books! 

Can't look at this picture without smiling! So happy to be a GA-PCOM student doctor!

The moment I was "coated"

So blessed to know this awesome group of people!

Sisterly love :-)

My daughter and my parents

Mother-Daughter Love

Father-Daughter Love

P.S. If you want to see more pictures from the event, check out the White Coat Ceremony album on GA-PCOM's Facebook page. You'll find me in a couple on there too :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Small Medical School Accomplishments and Celebrating Champions in Healthcare

Me and Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th Surgeon General of the United States

Last week was definitely a good one! I received the grades back for both my OMM and SPOM practical exams, and I am happy to say that I did well on both of them. I received mostly 100’s on all my stations for OMM, with the exception of cervical muscle energy. I was so nervous that I had my patient look the wrong way for the oculocephalogyric reflex, and it brought my score down 20 points for that one station. Overall I came out with an A for the entire practical, and I do not have to remediate any parts of the exam! Remediation is required if a student makes less than an eighty percent on any station on the exam, so I am pretty happy I managed to do well. As for SPOM, we received our practical grades back early Thursday morning, and I was just so happy that I did well enough to pass the entire exam altogether with my written score included. Later that afternoon we received an e-mail saying that the breakdown of our written scores was available, and when I went to check, I was shocked to find that my score jumped up 11 points! It turns out that a few questions had more than one correct answer or they were simply thrown out, and I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of it. I finally feel like I am getting the hang of medical school, and even though the work never stops, I can finally stop stressing at least a little bit.  

Class, anatomy lab, and both lunch and dinner with the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. Friday was a very busy, but definitely good day!

Aside from grades, Friday was definitely the highlight of not only my week, but medical school so far. Dr. Regina Benjamin, the 18th Surgeon General of the United States, came to GA-PCOM to speak to us and hold a Q&A session during lunch, and it was a wonderful experience. The GA-PCOM SNMA chapter (which I am a member of) presented her with a quilt at the end, and she even let me take a picture with her. Not only is Dr. Benjamin extremely intelligent and down-to-earth, but she also holds 23 honorary degrees, and does a lot of work to help rural and underserved communities. It was definitely an honor to be in the same room with her.

Later that evening, GA-PCOM held an inaugural Champions of Healthcare dinner that featured Dr. Benjamin as the keynote speaker. This was an amazing event that honored some of the outstanding staff, faculty, and students of GA-PCOM, and it was great to have one night of fun without studying. I also loved the fact that I got to have a chance to socialize and have drinks with both my professors and classmates alike. I thought I wouldn’t know too many people at the event since I am a first year student, but I probably knew half the people in the room! One thing that Dr. Benjamin said during her speech that evening was that the Lord takes you where you need to be, and as I looked around I couldn’t help but appreciate the fact that I really am where I need and want to be. I’m sure every medical student thinks their school is the best, but I truly believe mine wins hands down. GA-PCOM has everything I could ever want in a medical school, including diversity, a sense of community, and amazing students, faculty, and staff alike. I just feel so blessed to have been accepted into the school, and I hope that I can continue to work hard enough, so that I too can one day become a champion of healthcare.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Improving Study Habits in Medical School

A large part of medical school so far has been finding the most effective ways to study and retain the huge amount of information that is constantly being thrown at me. I’m still working on tweaking my study habits, but since I was asked, I figured I would make a post about what is currently working for me. Hopefully by the end of the term, I will have a more solid breakdown of the things that really help, but this post should serve as a good general breakdown.

Time Management

I’ve mentioned it before, but time management is a huge part of succeeding in medical school. People constantly tell me that they don’t know how I do everything while raising a child, but I think it’s actually a really big advantage for me. While most students have the option of going home and probably taking a nap or doing other things that distract them from studying, I don’t have that luxury. Because I have a child, virtually every minute has to be accounted for. I don’t have the same amount of study hours as my peers, so I have to make every second count. It’s easy to put off studying when you have the option of waking up early to do it, but it’s a different story when you have to wake up at 6am and get your child ready for school.

What works for me is breaking down the schedule and giving each lecture a set amount of time spent studying for it. We are expected to study 5-7 hours outside of lecture, but right now I am currently averaging around five hours a day of studying. Normally one class will have had more hours than the others, so I try to devote three hours a day towards studying for that, and I give the other classes about an hour of study time. If I get out of class at 5, then that gives me one hour of study time before I have to pick up my daughter, and then my mommy/free time is typically from 6-8pm. I study another four hours from 8-12, and then I am done for the night. So far I have been good about hitting my goal, but there’s always a little extra time when anatomy lab gets out early or when my group is not going for OMM lab where I can get in some extra study time.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

This is definitely something I can improve on. The only way you can truly gauge how you’re doing on a subject is by quizzing yourself and doing practice tests. There are a ton of websites that have quizzes to help you, and so far I have found the Board Review Series (BRS) books pretty amazing. Also, make sure to go over your answers and figure out where you went wrong. I did not do this with the exam I just took, and I am convinced that at least one of the questions was very similar to one I did in the BRS book, but did not go over. For anatomy, the University of Michigan has excellent practical and written exams, and I also really like the SUNY Downstate material. I used Firecracker for about a month until my free trial ran out, and I think it’s a pretty good resource as well, although a bit pricey.

Review the Material Multiple Times

I recently got great advice from one of the second year medical students on studying, and the key point was to make sure to review the material at least five times outside of lecture. That means attend or listen to the lecture at least once, review the material three times over a semi-spread out timeframe, use the fourth time to take quizzes, and devote the fifth and final time to group studying. Even if you’re not a fan of group studying, it can reveal things to you that you might not have learned, so it’s a good thing to do if only for an hour or two. I haven’t actually done this yet, but we just started a new block and I plan on implementing it, so I will let everyone know how it works out for me after the next exam.

Ways to Retain the Information

Outside of repetition, YouTube and mnemonics have been lifesavers when it comes to retaining information. Mnemonics make it easier to remember long lists of things (ie the branches of the external carotid artery), and I find that the more dirty they are, the better they work. I have also found some amazing videos on YouTube that have explained things to me in five minutes or less despite having spent hours on my own trying to figure it out. YouTube pretty much has videos on anything you can think of, so if you get stuck on something, use that search function! I remember things that are really off-the-wall and eccentric, and some of the videos posted have all the elements needed to make the information stick in my mind.

Know What Works Best for You

 It’s important to remember that everyone has different ways of studying, so what works for me might not necessarily work for you. During orientation, I took a LASSI exam and found out that I am a strong read/write learner. I already knew this, but I learn best from reading the textbook and taking my own notes. This doesn’t work for everybody, and it is a really big waste of time to not study in a way that feels comfortable to you. Furthermore, what worked for you during your undergraduate years will probably not work in medical school just because of the sheer volume of material. Don’t be afraid to spend a month or two tweaking your study techniques until you find something that works. Also, I’m pretty sure that all schools have learning centers with people there to help you find effective study skills, so use them!

This pretty much sums up everything for now, but I’m sure I will have more posts on the subject in the future. The current term ends for us in November, and then we will start a completely different block that will consist of full days of lectures without labs. This is probably when I will have to really get a handle on things, but for now I am sticking with what I have written above. I wrote this post in terms of medical school, but I think the tips can be used by anyone whether you're in medical school, graduate school, or undergraduate school. It's important to build a good foundation early on so that you don't struggle later, so I hope this post helps!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

They Don't Call it Hell Week for Nothing!

I’m back! Right after my last post, I looked at my schedule and realized that I had seven exams approaching, and they would all be within a one week time frame. Needless to say, I’ve been M.I.A. because I have been absolutely swamped with studying and test taking. I thought I had been through what people referred to as “hell week” before, but nothing even comes close to the past week. Not finals week during undergrad, not my comprehensive exam for my master’s degree, nothing! To give you an idea of what I am talking about, here’s a little breakdown:

Exam 1: PCBM (Preventative and Community Based Medicine)This exam covered epidemiology and statistics and was only an hour long. If you know anything about me, then you know I absolutely hate math which is a pretty large portion of this class. Basically I had to know t-tests, Chi squares, Type I and II errors, and a whole bunch of other statistical stuff for this exam. It wasn’t fun, but I managed to do really well (which was an absolute necessity because I bombed the first exam).

9/26 Exams 2 and 3: SPOM and PCS Yes, I had two exams back-to-back on this day :-( SPOM (Structural Principles of Osteopathic Medicine) is something you’ll probably see me write a lot about between now and November, and it covers five subjects. These subjects are anatomy, embryology, histology, physiology, and radiology. We do not get separate exams for each of these subjects, but instead we get one three-hour written exam that covers everything learned since the previous exam. To give you a better understanding of how extreme it is, think of finals week where you take multiple 1-2 hour exams for each subject, and just combine all that information into one exam. It’s intense, but the good news is that once we finish an exam, we no longer need to worry about the information (well, until we take the boards in 2 years).

As for PCS (Primary Care Skills), this exam was only an hour long and I was so busy studying for SPOM, that I completely forgot about it. I basically had 20 minutes to study for it in between tests, and I was so happy to have made a B on it! The patient stuff comes pretty easy to me, and a lot of it is common sense, but there were definitely a few questions that I just outright guessed on.

9/29 Exam 4: SPOM Lab Practical This exam coincides with the SPOM written exam and is worth 40% of the overall grade for SPOM. For this exam, we have 40 seconds to answer an identification and secondary question on each cadaver, so it’s only about an hour long, but you really have to know your stuff. It’s especially hard if the body that you’re looking at isn’t properly dissected. Textbooks have pretty pictures of body parts, but it definitely isn’t like that in real life. The good news is that if a student has failed the written portion of the exam, they can redeem themselves by doing really well on the practical portion. I find I’m pretty good at the practical, but horrible on the written exam, so the SPOM practicals really save me. I have no idea how I did on this though since it is hand-graded, but hopefully I’ll find out by next week.

10/1 Exams 5 and 6: OMM Written and Practical OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine) is what the D.O. program prides itself on. For the written portion of this exam, we not only had to know how to information about treating various dysfunctions, but we were also tested on the history of osteopathic medicine. Apparently, this information will also be on the boards, so it is really important that we learn it all now. I also did well on this, so that was a relief. (I forgot to mention that for all of our exams except the practicals, our score pops up on the screen as soon as we click submit. I like knowing how I did right after everything is said and done, but this can also be a bad thing if you do really bad on one exam and have another one coming up right after.) 

For the practical, we were given time slots for when we had to act as patients as well as times for our actual exam. I was lucky that I got to be a patient first, because it kind of helped ease my nerves a bit having already been in the exam room. There were five stations: palpation, range of motion, cervical muscle energy, thoracic muscle energy, and lumbar muscle energy. The professors would tell us a technique and we had to perform it properly. I’m not sure how I performed on this because there were definitely a couple of things that I forgot to do, but hopefully I will not have to remediate. This would mean that they would give me a failing grade of 69, and even if I properly performed the technique in remediation, the failing grade would still stand.

10/2 EXAM 7: PACS Comprehensive Exam This was my final and absolute favorite exam! For this exam we get a patient, exam room, and we get to act as a physician. From the start we have 2 minutes to look over the patient’s chart outside the door, and 14 minutes inside the exam room with the patient. For this exam, we did not have to perform a full exam with draping and our equipment, but instead we spoke to the patients and took a full history. Once the 14 minutes was complete, we were then given 9 minutes to type up a SOAP note outside the room which included the patient’s chief complaint, medical history, and everything else pertinent to the case. I really liked the PACS exam because it reminds me of why I am in medical school. Plus, my patient gave me really great feedback and it made my day :-)


So there you have it. A few of you were wondering what I was up to, so I had to come back and let everyone know that I am okay. It has definitely been a stressful week, but with determination and a whole lot of prayer, I made it through! We also started another block on Tuesday, but with all these exams in the way, studying for current classes kind of fell through. I will definitely catch up tomorrow and this weekend, but tonight I’m relaxing! I also haven’t responded to any e-mails or messages, but just know that I am not ignoring you. I’ll try to respond to a few tonight, but you should plan on hearing from me by Sunday at the latest. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reflections on My First Month of Medical School!

Right before my first standardized patient encounter today

I looked at the calendar today and just had to write a post. Today marks one month of being a medical student, and what a month it has been! It literally feels like I’ve been in medical school for years (but in a good way), and I am absolutely amazed at the amount of material we have covered so far. Just today, I held an actual human brain in my hands, learned how to do a complete pulmonary and cardiac exam, and I even had a chance to examine my first standardized patient in a mock primary care skills exam. I completely forgot to shake my patient’s hand and I was shaking because I was so nervous, but for my first time, I wasn’t that bad, LOL.

In the past month alone, I have accumulated TWO 2-inch binders full of notes, covered the entire back, thorax, head and neck anatomy, learned how to read and analyze MR and CT images, and learned how to do various osteopathic manipulation techniques. This is in addition to having classes in embryology, physiology, histology, and epidemiology, and it really has been a complete blur. The course load is definitely no joke, but I slowly feel like I’m starting to get used to it. I’ve also had some really cool and unique experiences like holding an actual fetus, seeing the effects of cigarettes on actual lungs, and I am now convinced that I can diagnose a person with Horner’s Syndrome or somatic dysfunction. Just don’t ask me about anything else, because that’s all I know for now, LOL! I could go on and on about what I have learned and experienced in the past month, but to make a long story short, I love everything about the past month! I can definitely see a little growth, a lot of adaptation, and new opportunity every day to learn something new about myself and the human body.

I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t had days where I have been completely stressed out, depressed, and exhausted beyond belief, but every day something happens that reminds me of the fact that I am where I need to be, and where I want to be. I think I might be a slight masochist, because I really do love everything that I’m doing right now, and no matter how hard it gets at times, I always seem to want more. Let’s just hope it stays that way!    

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Tough Week, but I Survived!!!!

I’m so sorry for the lack of posts, but it has been a super busy time! I have taken two exams since I last wrote, and I needed the week to somewhat recover. One exam was fairly short and only covered epidemiology, and the other exam was a major one that consisted of 3 hours of a written portion with a one hour anatomy lab practical that immediately followed. To say I have been stressed out and exhausted is a huge understatement! The picture below was pretty much my view all last weekend, and sleep was a luxury that I really could not afford. Since my daughter doesn’t bother me when she’s sleeping, I ended up staying awake basically 24 hours so that I could get some extra studying in. By Sunday night, I was so exhausted that I went to sleep early, but I had no problem getting 8 hours of sleep and being extra refreshed for the exam. After the exam, I came home and spent a few hours typing up an article that’s deadline was on the same day (I’m a huge procrastinator!), but after that it felt so good to finally be able to relax, watch TV, and worry about absolutely nothing!

On the constant study grind!

As for another update, shortly after my last post, my S.O. had to go back to Louisiana for at least the next month or two, so I have been following plan B of the schedule I previously posted (SEE HERE). The closest family I have lives about 45 minutes away from where I stay, so driving there would have cost me two hours of study time. I’m pretty much doing everything on my own now, but I’m used to it, so it hasn’t been too much of a shock. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only parent in my school who is balancing a child and school without the help of family, but it is still very doable. I just can’t express how grateful I am for a fellow student and mother who helped me out by having her husband watch my daughter last Saturday so that I could go take a mock anatomy practical exam at the school. One thing I learned is to never be afraid to ask for help, and I am so blessed to be at a school where pretty much everyone tries to help and look out for one another.

Bowling for Babies with GA-PCOM SNMA!

On another subject, I had the opportunity to help support the March of Dimes through an event today called “Bowling for Babies”. It was put on by the GA-PCOM chapter of the Student National Medical Association, and I am happy to finally be a medical student member of the organization (I was an associate member all throughout my undergraduate career). It was also great being able to gain volunteer hours while bowling and spending time with my daughter. I’ll probably end up making tomorrow my study day, but I definitely don’t regret it.

My daughter keeps me all smiles :-)

There are quite a few posts that I know I need to write, so hopefully I’ll be able to get to them this week. I plan on writing about a few lessons that I have learned from my exams so far, and I was asked about the format and subject matter of the exams at my school, so I will cover that as well. If there’s anything else you guys want to know, don’t be afraid to shoot me a message. I always respond even if it takes me a day or two. The current block covers head and neck anatomy, which is supposed to be one of the hardest exams (which we will have on the 26th), so most of my free time will be spent studying. So far, we have only had 4 days of classes to cover it, and it is already so much material!!!! I’m really trying my best to not get overwhelmed, and I definitely appreciate the support that I get from you all. So another huge thank you to those of you who read, comment on my posts, and send me messages because it really keeps me going. Until next time!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ready for Week 3!

The Study Grind!

Happy Labor Day! I remember when this day meant sleeping in and good barbeque, but my, oh, my, have things changed! I actually woke up at 6:30 this morning to study, and that’s pretty much what I’ve done the entire day. It was so refreshing to have an extra day to study without any new material, plus by waking up before my daughter, I received the added benefit of interruption-free study time. I still feel like I have so much more to learn, but at least now I feel slightly caught up. They weren’t lying about one week of medical school being comparable to a semester of undergraduate courses, and I have the binder to prove it! I already had to make the switch to a two-inch binder for my lecture notes alone, and if it weren’t for the fact that my lectures notes are printed four slides to a page front and back, I would probably need a larger one. Oddly enough though, I feel completely in my element and I am happy with the workload so far. It’s not easy, and it’s definitely exhausting, but I just love learning material that is geared towards my dreams. Plus, learning about the human body, clinical correlations, and everything else that comes with it really excites me! Whether good or bad, this is all just one big process to get me to where I want to be, so I’m embracing it all.

Mother-Daughter Selfie Time!

On another note, I stayed true to my “study-free Sunday” rule and had the chance to attend my little brother’s wedding yesterday. It was great being able to see friends and family that I hadn’t seen in years, and my daughter had a good time as well. I know down the road that school will probably get in the way of attending weddings and other big milestones, so I feel very blessed that I was given the opportunity to do so this time. Plus, I was happy to get dolled up, because studying has made me feel extra frumpy lately, LOL.

Anyway, this week I have an exam on Tuesday in epidemiology and then I will be studying my butt off (in addition to attending classes) for my SPOM exam next week. I’ll have to go into what exactly that is on another post later, but if you don’t hear from me until later next week, just know that is the reason why. Things are starting to get real, so please pray for me!

Ready for the week ahead (Model Style!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Typical Day as a Single Parent in Medical School

I have received quite a few questions about my daily schedule and how I handle medical school as a single parent, so this will be my attempt to answer them. Since the beginning of orientation week, I have had my wonderful guy here helping me out, so the adjustment has not been too bad so far. With that being said, I always have a plan B, so in addition to my current schedule, I will put what my schedule would be if I had absolutely no help at all. This way, you all can get an idea of how manageable everything is (at least for the first two years, anyway).  ***Not too long after writing this post, I had to implement my plan B, so also see my follow up post HERE***

How do you get both you and your daughter ready and to school in the morning?

The picture above represents my schedule for this week. As you can see, I start class at 8am and either finish at 5 or 6 depending on the day. For those of you considering GA-PCOM, be aware that the elementary schools in the county do not run on the same time schedule. I believe this is because they have so many students (my daughter’s school has over 1600 students), so the buses need to be able to handle the load. Some schools will start as early 8:15 and others as late as 8:50. I got lucky in that my daughter’s school starts at the early time, and her bus arrives to pick her up around 7:15 every morning. This gives me enough time to get her ready and on to the bus first, and then focus on myself and make it to class by 8. I was also lucky enough to find a place that is literally a 30 second drive from the school, so I do not have to worry about traffic times in the morning (which are pretty brutal in my area).

What do you do with your daughter when she gets out of school?

Like I previously mentioned, my S.O. currently gets her from the school bus and helps her with her homework before I make it home in the evening. If I did not have him here to do this, she would be in an after-school care program. Unfortunately, for her school, there is not one available on-site, but I was given a list of about 20 programs that provide bus transportation from the elementary schools to their location. These run about $75-100/week and go until 6:30pm. If you provide a letter from the provider to GA-PCOM, they will increase your cost of attendance so that you can get more loans to cover everything. I’m pretty sure other schools will do the same, but don’t quote me on that.

How do you find time to study?

From 6-8pm every day, I do absolutely no studying. This gives me time to talk to my daughter, make dinner, get her ready for bed, and do anything else parent- or relaxation-related. At 8pm, she is on a strict bed-time schedule, and I study until midnight. I am a night-owl so this works best for me, but for those who aren’t, you can always adjust it to go to sleep early and wake up around 4am.

Do you have to attend every class?

For the time being, I attend every class, but only the labs and guest lecturers are mandatory. GA-PCOM does record the majority (but not all) of its lectures, although some professors will pause the lecture recording at times to give hints to those in class. I learn best from reading the texts and writing out notes, and I found that listening to the recorded lectures at 1.5x speed really helps at night. Therefore, I may end up skipping a few lectures to read through and learn the material in the library, and then I can reinforce the material later on in the evening by streaming the recorded lectures at home. Either way, I am on campus all day, but I will get more hours of studying done versus zoning out during lecture time. I would be too tempted to sleep in if I did not go to campus, so even if I decide to not go the lecture, I still plan on going to the library or one of the study rooms.

What about weekends?

My Saturdays will probably be split between at-home studying and anatomy lab on campus. My daughter is pretty used to my busy schedule, so she usually leaves me alone for a few hours. If I did not have my guy helping me, then I would already have found somebody from who had a pretty good availability to come if needed. I also do have family about 45 minutes away from me, so in a true emergency, I could probably drop her off for the day.

On Sundays, I do NOT study at all. I made a promise a long time ago that I would give myself a breather one day a week, and it is really important to me to bond with my daughter at this time. Sundays are pretty much mommy-daughter days, and I plan on keeping it that way (although I may alternate with Saturdays at times). This keeps her happy, and gives me less of the mommy-guilt. GA-PCOM also has a break every day at 12pm that coincides with my daughter’s lunch, so I may eat lunch with her from time to time if I feel she is starting to miss me more.

I hope this answers everyone’s questions, but if not just send me a message. I can also ask my other classmates about their experiences if you would like to know something a bit more specific or relatable (i.e. raising a toddler or infant in medical school). The first two years are a pretty set schedule, so medical school if definitely doable with or without help as a single parent. My daughter is also school-aged and I have been raising her by myself without help since she was a toddler, so I think it does come a bit easier for me, and I can manage with or without someone around. There are also more than a handful of other parents in my class (both single and married) with children ranging from infants to teenagers, and they seem to be adapting just fine, so please do not think that medical school is impossible if you are a parent (single or otherwise).


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 1 of Medical School Complete!

Getting ready for anatomy lab

I am happy to say that I survived my first week of medical school, and it is every bit of intense as everyone says it is! Just last week alone, we probably covered more than what I learned in what amounts to probably a month or so of undergraduate coursework. There definitely wasn’t any introductory period either. On the very first day, we covered the superficial and deep back muscles, histology methods, osteopathic principles, and we had to do a back dissection on cadavers in anatomy lab. I barely managed to make it home before six on any day, and I still had to study for about 4-5 hours to understand what was taught. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel too overwhelmed during the week, but that all changed when Friday hit and we covered the first eight weeks of embryology in just one day. So much information!!!!

GA-PCOM ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The week didn’t pass without some pretty good highlights though. On Thursday, I used a power saw for the very first time in my life, and removed the vertebrae of my cadaver in order to visualize and remove the spinal cord. I thought it was so awesome! Anatomy lab, although time consuming, could easily pass for my favorite class right now. I also had the chance to do a cervical palpation on a classmate during OMT lab. OMT, which stands for osteopathic manipulation treatment, is something that is only specific to DO schools, but so far I really enjoy it. It not only is a way to have a break from sitting in a classroom all day and going over the basic sciences, but it also a good way to get to know and understand the body from a physical standpoint. So many people complain about not having any patient contact during the first two years of medical school, and I feel like OMT helps to give a little bit of that. GA-PCOM also proved its awesomeness by having a school-wide ice bucket challenge on Friday to raise money for ALS, and it was pretty cool seeing our professors get ice water dumped on them. They also had a huge water slide and free cookies, so it was a nice end to a pretty long week.

My week in a nutshell: studying, studying, and more studying!

As for this weekend, the studying didn’t end with classes on Friday. I not only studied all of Friday night, but on Saturday morning I was back in the anatomy lab doing a dissection to find the subocciptal triangle, and to make sure that I could identify all of the back muscles before we flip the bodies over on Monday. After that I came back home to study embryology for a few hours, but then I went right back to campus to go over the vertebrae and deltoscapular region with one of my classmates. I made a promise that for one day a week I would do absolutely nothing school related, so last night I went out with my wonderful guy and daughter to a nice dinner. I also took my daughter to an indoor trampoline park today, and we basically spent the whole day bonding. It was actually really refreshing to take one day to not worry about schoolwork, because I literally felt like all I did was study throughout the week.

Dinner Break!

A few of you have asked me to make a post about my daily schedule, and I am about to do that right now. I didn’t want to make a super long post though, so I will most likely schedule it to be posted either tomorrow or Tuesday evening. Outside of that, I probably will not post again until next weekend, so I hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Mommy and Daughter Bonding Time :-)

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