Friday, June 27, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Research and Hello to Medical School!

Goodbye LSU-SVM, Hello GA-PCOM!!!!

Wow, what a week! Today after four long years, I officially ended my career as a research associate, and in six days I will be making my move to Georgia and beginning my journey to becoming a physician.

This entire week has been an emotional roller coaster! I have absolutely loved my work over the years, but I am happy that I will finally have some time to unwind in the upcoming weeks. But as much as I have loved research in parasitology, I am happier that I get to go on and pursue my true passion now. I am sad to be leaving a project that I have worked so hard on, and I really hope some of the efforts that I was involved in hopefully lead to the prevention and eradication of at least one neglected tropical disease. The good news is that we had another paper published a few weeks ago, so things are definitely moving along. I'm certainly going to miss all the craziness of the lab, and I'm even more excited that I can now say that I have never been bit by an animal or accidentally stabbed with a needle in the lab!!!! I don’t think anyone else who has ever worked in the lab can claim this title, and it is certainly not an easy feat!

Gifts from an awesome student worker and friend :-)

But overall, my last day was pretty good. One of my wonderful student workers surprised me with some awesome gifts, red velvet cake (my favorite), and a card that almost made me cry. My boss even came and took us all out for lunch (my daughter included), and he gave me an awesome book that I will add to my LSU memory collection. I am blessed to have worked with some wonderful people in my time as a research associate, and today I was reminded of that. Over the years, I have also had the chance to mentor a few undergraduate students, and I know that they will all go very far in whatever career paths they decide to pursue.

Going to miss my awesome boss!

I have lived in Louisiana since 2005, and this will be the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent anywhere in my life. My lease is up on Monday, so I will be packing and getting things in order this entire weekend. From there, I will spend a few days in New Orleans and hopefully meet up with some awesome people and say goodbye to a few close friends. I’m going to miss the food, the culture, the people, and most of all the food, but nothing beats living your dreams! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Registered for Classes and Less Than Two Months to Go!

Registered for my first term courses at GA-PCOM!!!!

I’m officially registered for classes this fall!!!! I received an e-mail from the registrar Friday night with the above information, and it made my entire week. Everything is definitely starting to feel real now, and I can’t wait for classes to start in August.

With that being said, this weekend has been a very productive one. I stayed home from work on Friday due to a very strong case of angioedema (ie my lip swells up at random times for no complete reason), and I took advantage of the time by getting a head start on my packing. My room is now completely packed (and clean) along with my daughter’s, and I will pack the kitchen next weekend. I also went ahead and submitted my applications for electricity and gas service. I’ve never had to pay for gas as part of utilities, so I was completely confused with all the different choices they offered. Fortunately, I have family in Georgia, so a quick phone call saved the day. As of right now, cable and internet are still in the air, but I plan on setting that up within the next day or two.

With most of the hard stuff being out of the way, this week should be relatively easy. My last day of work will be Friday, but I’ll most likely be leaving early every day since my daughter will be spending the week at work with me again. Additionally, my insurance will be ending after this week, and I have a ton of sick leave saved up, so I definitely plan on getting in some last minute doctor appointments this week. Oh, and the moving truck has been reserved, so that makes things even more official. July 3rd will be the start of a new chapter as we make our way to Georgia, and that day can’t get here fast enough!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Six Months Down and a Huge Thank You!!!!

Today officially marks six months since I first started blogging! I had no idea what I was doing when I first started this thing, but I knew what I wanted to accomplish. All of your awesome comments and e-mails definitely let me know that I’m on the right track. I just wanted to take the time to thank each and every person that reads my blog. Whether you’ve been around since day one, or you just discovered it today, I really do appreciate you all finding the time in your busy schedules to read my posts. This blog has become a mix of information, inspiration, and my own personal diary of sorts, and I love it! I just hope you all continue to find it as great as I do! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Last-Minute Fun, Father's Day Love, and Lab Woes

It’s only Monday, but I’m already exhausted! The last few days have been a complete blur, but I’m going to try my best to remember everything.

Was definitely enjoying myself!

I last left off with how I was looking forward to having one last outing with my little sister before I move. Thursday night, we drove down to New Orleans and went to a movie theatre that serves you dinner and drinks DURING the movie. It was awesome! The seats had a leg rest and reclined back with the touch of a button. Also, whenever we wanted anything, all we had to do was push a button and a waiter showed up. It was definitely an experience, and I can’t believe I just discovered it. Fortunately, I looked it up and Atlanta has a few theatres like this. Hopefully, I’ll be able to check it out if/when I get free time in the future. 

Dinner and a movie with hand grenades for dessert!

After the movie, all three of us (my SO came too) decided we wanted to get some hand grenades from Bourbon Street. We ended up staying out there for a few hours, and enjoying all the craziness that comes with the territory. I got hit with a few Mardi Gras beads and had to dodge vomit-filled sidewalks, but I’m actually going to miss being able to go down there. We ended up at CafĂ© Du Monde again for some beignets, and then back to my SO’s house around 3 am. This was probably a really stupid idea considering I had to be at work Friday morning, but we got up and made the hour drive back, and I was only slightly late for work. Needless to say, I slept really well when I got off work on Friday!

New Orleans is so pretty at night! Had to take a pic for the memories :-)

I didn’t get to sleep in like I wanted on Saturday, because I had to be back on the road to pick up my daughter from my parents’ house. Since I knew I had to drive back on Sunday, we decided to take my dad out on Saturday for a Father’s Day dinner. I learned from this experience that my parents do not know how to act in public, LOL! There was lots of laughter, crazy talk, and I’m sure the waiters thought we were out of our mind, but it was a great time. We also gave my dad our gifts before I left and he was just sooo happy! He may not be my biological father, but he helped my mother raise me since I was eight years old, so I make sure to show him how much we appreciate him when I can.  

Someone had a happy Father's Day!

As for today, I just don’t want to think about it, LOL. I had a crazy morning in the lab that consisted of ticks and blood. My daughter came to work with me and was complaining about something being in her hair, but I didn't expect to find a tick when I looked! Fortunately, the lab next door works on ticks, and they showed me how to remove it properly. They’re also going to analyze it for me because ticks are some nasty vectors that carry all sorts of diseases. That way if my daughter does get sick, they’ll know exactly what caused it, but hopefully nothing bad will come of it. As for the blood, when the PI was talking to me about the ticks, I was in the middle of doing blood work with the post doc in my lab. He somehow managed to drop a tube a blood, and oddly it splashed all over me. I’m still not sure how it happened, but thank goodness I had on my lab coat today! But anyway, I think that’s it for the updates. Here’s to hoping the week only gets better!

You ain't about that "lab life"! LOL!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's Crunch Time!

One box packed, but a lot more to go!

Even though classes don’t officially start until about two months from now, it feels like the next few weeks are going to be the most stressful ones of my summer. I have about three weeks until I move, and there’s so much to do!

My daughter has been staying with my parents for the last couple of weeks, and the plan was that she would be with them until I made the move to Georgia. Well, plans changed and it looks like I will be driving to get her this weekend. I already packed up her room, and she has most of her clothes with her, so I’m hoping she doesn’t get too upset that she won’t be able to play with any of her toys. I also have yet to find an affordable two-week camp or program for her to attend during my last two weeks here, so unless things change, she’ll be spending her time with me in the lab. The good news is that I submitted my letter of resignation from my job on Monday, so things are definitely starting to feel real now.

My original move-in date was the first of July, but if all goes well, it will now be around the third. The person who I will be renting from will be taking his boards around that time, so I agreed to extend everything by a few days. I also have yet to reserve a rental truck, but I plan on doing that tonight. Hopefully, there will still be some available. My plan is to pack a little each day, but outside of my daughter’s room, I literally only have one box packed. I never realized how much I hold on to things that I don’t need, so a lot of my packing has basically been throwing away things I have not touched in years. I feel like such a hoarder! Well, a very neat one, LOL.

I’m not going to lie though, when baby’s away, mommy will play, and I’ve been doing just that. This weekend I pretty much did absolutely nothing other than binge on Netflix. I’ve also been spending time with my little sister because once I move, there’s no telling when we’ll see each other again. Tomorrow night, we plan on going down to New Orleans and checking out a movie at a theatre that serves you dinner while you watch. I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’ve also been pretty busy typing up an interview that I’m sure everybody will love, but I have to get final approval before I can post it. It’s coming though, I promise!

I’m trying my best to maintain at least two blog posts a week, but don’t be alarmed if I post less frequently in the coming weeks. Once I make my move, I will pretty much have the whole month of July free, so I plan on writing a lot more then. I also plan on writing through orientation and the first week of classes, but I can’t promise much in terms of frequency after that. As always, thank you for reading and any and all prayers will be greatly appreciated as I make this transition within the next few weeks. Wishing everyone a fantastic week!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

More Personal Statement Advice

This post is my attempt to combine some questions I have been frequently asked regarding my personal statement. Previously, I posted some general personal statement advice (see here) along with my own personal statement (here), so if you don’t see what you need in this post, then please check out those links. I know it’s turning into crunch time for perfecting and submitting medical school applications, so I hope this helps everybody out.

How do I include all of my ECs in the personal statement?

There's really no need to write about every extracurricular activity you have ever had in the personal statement. Admissions committees can already see that in your overall application and it will come off as redundant. If there was a particularly meaningful experience that you had while on a mission trip or volunteering then write about that, but don't try to list all your ECs in paragraph form. Just focus on one aspect. You could even center your whole personal statement over one experience in particular and try to tie in how the other ECs either helped you get to that point or how you discovered new Extracurricular activities because of the experience.

How did you talk about your extracurricular activities in your personal Statement?

I talked about a few of my ECs in my PS but it was really light. I mentioned them as a way to show how I still continued to be involved even though I had other responsibilities to deal with. I did not mention anything specific in particular. I just said that I took leadership positions within a few organizations, and wrote briefly about how they let me stay involved.

Were you specific about osteopathy in your personal statement? I heard some people saying that it's better to be specific in the secondary so that it doesn't sound repetitive. What do you think?

Do not write about osteopathic medicine in your personal statement. When you receive secondary applications, the majority of them will ask "why this school" and/or "why osteopathic medicine". If you address it in your PS, you will have a really hard time answering the question in your secondary essays. Just write about your desire to be a physician. (Note: make sure you say osteopathic medicine. Some people take offense to the word "osteopathy" because it can mean something entirely different overseas).

How long was your personal statement? (# of words) 

For AMCAS, my PS was 869 words and came out to be 4693 characters with spaces. The max character limit for AMCAS is 5300.

For AACOMAS, my PS was 790 words and 4485 characters with spaces according to Microsoft Word. On my application, it says that I have a total of 4500 characters which is the max limit for the AACOMAS application.

Where can I find examples of Personal statements and meaningful experience essays?

Finding good personal statement examples was one of the hardest things for me when I originally drafted my PS. This was almost 6 years ago though and now examples are only a short click away. Below are some really good resources I have found:

Medical School Essays that Made a Difference by Princeton Review – This was literally the only thing I used for examples when I originally drafted my PS. It helped me formulate a good starting point, but I felt that my first essay was too cookie-cutter because of it. To correct this, I dramatically changed my PS over the years to reflect me and my growth. Unfortunately, this book isn't available online. - (Good example personal statements from - (These are personal statements for residency (via Medical College Wisconsin), but I figured I would include them anyway)

DoctorORBust - A fellow blogger who not only listed his personal statement as an example, but gives excellent tips on the entire writing process.

I think that’s it for common personal statement questions. I’ll add more examples if I come across any, and if there’s anything else you want to know, just shoot me a message!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Check Out My Podcast Interview on Medical School HQ!

Hey guys! Last week, I was interviewed by Dr. Ryan Gray from Medical School Headquarters as part of his podcast series. If you haven’t heard of this site, it has awesome resources for both pre-medical and medical students alike, and it was started by a non-traditional student, so check it out!

If you are a fairly new reader of my blog, my podcast interview will basically give you a 40 minute condensed version of my journey to becoming an accepted medical student. I talk about dealing with both a low GPA and MCAT, extracurricular activities, employment, and being a mother, all while preparing for medical school. If you hear anything and need more clarification on it, just come back to my blog and click on the “Applying to Medical School” tab and I’m sure you’ll find a more in-depth response in one of my previous posts. Or, you can always send me a quick message and I’ll get back to you.

My podcast interview can be FOUND HERE. You can click on the gray "play" icon, or you can even download it for later. I hope everyone enjoys listening to it. My hope is that it inspires you all to keep pushing towards your dreams even more! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Pre-Meds: Turn Up! It’s Time to Apply to Medical School!

The lack of posts last week can be attributed to taking the time to respond to the flood of e-mails in my inbox. Medical school applications can officially be submitted June 3rd of this week, and it seems as if everyone is freaking out accordingly.

My main advice is to stand back, take a breath, and relax! I have been in your shoes, and I know how stressful it is applying to medical school. While applications can be submitted this week, they won’t be transmitted to individual schools until the end of the month. In other words, there is absolutely no need to rush to get everything submitted on the very first day. Don’t be afraid to take a few days to look over your application and tweak it in any way you need to.

If there is any part of the process that you need a bit of advice about, don’t be afraid to contact me. I do answer every e-mail, and I try to as quickly as possible. I will also be putting together some posts in the next few days to further clarify a few things that I get asked about often. This week will probably be the best time to contact me, so if you have any questions, shoot me an e-mail or comment below.

Good luck!!!!

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