Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!!!!

My Big Birthday Turn Up!!!!

It's my birthday and I am now the big 28! This won't be a long post since I have an exam on Monday to study for, but I wanted to make sure I put something up to meet my weekly goal. Right now, it is a little bit past 4:30am, and I am wide awake and ready to get my study on. I could complain about having to do so much studying on my birthday (and a Super Bowl weekend), but in all honesty, I am very happy to do it. At this time last year, I was sooo ready to start medical school and be doing what I am today, so I am feeling beyond blessed and happy at the moment. For me, the fact that my daughter is healthy, I am healthy, and I am doing what I love is the best gift of all! Anyway, I only have about 4 hours of uninterrupted study time before the little one wakes up, so wishing everyone an amazing weekend! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Halfway Done with My Second Term of Medical School!

At the time of my last post, I oddly wasn’t aware that we were about to be hit with yet another brutal schedule. One practical exam and three written exams later, I can happily say that I made it through the storm! The major exam that I took today completely wore me out, so I am happy to be done with exams for the moment, even if the next major one is in a week in a half. I was so drained that I ended up skipping the four hours of lecture that were immediately scheduled after the exam. I went grocery shopping, got an inspection done on my car, and even took an uninterrupted nap so it was well worth it. Luckily, our lectures are recorded, so I’ll make sure to play catch up this weekend. Tonight there will be absolutely no studying though. I cooked a full dinner and I just put my daughter to bed, so as soon as she actually falls asleep, I plan on baking some cookies, opening a bottle of wine, and watching Empire tonight. Oh, the joy!

But aside from not posting recently, I got on here tonight because I wanted to share a really cool experience that my class had last week. We underwent the “Ebola Simulated Clinical Experience”, where we were trained in donning and doffing N95 masks and gowns in the event of an infectious disease situation. The coolest part was actually getting to work with our on-campus simulated patient known as Stan. Stan is basically a human-like robot that breathes, blinks, goes into shock, and talks (among other things). He is typically used by the 2nd-year medical students, so it was nice being able to really see why everyone likes using him. My school also has a female counterpart that can experience contractions and even give birth, so I’m really looking forward to working on her next year. We also will be learning how to do FULL exams on actual human patients next year, but that’s another story, LOL. Anyway, that’s all I will post tonight. I’m about to relax as if I’m not a constantly stressed out medical student!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Post for the Pre-Meds: Do Upper Level Undergraduate Courses Really Help in Medical School?

Sounds like the workload is super intense! Does it really help to have taken undergrad classes like microbio, immunology, etc.? Or are you referring to your master's level classes? It seems like a lot of people say not to bother with taking more science classes in undergrad because the focus and volume in med school will be very different... but I'm wondering if it's true?

I was asked this question about a month ago, and I promised I would expand further upon my initial answer. The workload in medical school will be intense regardless of whether or not you have had previous exposure. I took anatomy and microbiology solely on an undergraduate level, and the exposure did help, but very little. Understanding the terminology is a huge part of anatomy, and without any previous knowledge, it can make things a bit harder once you hit medical school, although you will probably make out just fine. I previously took anatomy back in 2006 and retained very little of the information I was taught. What did help was being familiar with terms such as prone, supine, origin, insertion, etc. This was not taught to us in lecture in medical school, but instead it was provided as a very large word document full of common terms. Since I remembered these terms, I was able to spend more time actually learning and retaining the material than trying to understand what every other word meant. The same applies for microbiology. We are now taking it this term, and I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty that I retained less than 1% of the material taught in undergrad, but being familiar with it helps.

When it comes to classes I took in my master’s program, I can say that they are super helpful! Last term, practically every course (with the exception of anatomy) was brand new to me, and I actually had to force myself to really learn the material. This term, practically every single subject we are covering (minus pathology) was taught to me in my master’s program. In my graduate program, I focused more on learning than memorizing, and it is paying off really well for me this term. I actually feel like I have more free time this term, because I get to skip the basics. I can also say that medical school is not more difficult than graduate school in the level of the course work. In grad school, I had to literally write out mechanisms in biochemistry and I needed to learn, what felt like to me, every single, small detail about a subject. Biochemistry is way more enjoyable when you only have to know the major steps and components of glycolysis, versus having to know and be able to draw out the complete mechanisms like I did in grad school.

So what is it that makes medical school so intense? THE WORKLOAD!!!!!! Pretty much what might have taken me a month or two of graduate school to learn, we cover in about two weeks or less. This pretty much applies to every subject, so imagine an entire month of maybe 19 credit hours in undergrad, double that, condense it into one week, and you have how fast we cover everything in medical school. It is extremely overwhelming, and enough to make even the brightest students struggle. The focus is also different, but only in the sense that everything is now more clinically-oriented. This is a positive aspect to me though, because I feel like I am actually learning about stuff that is relevant to my goals as a future physician.

So, if you’re currently a pre-medical student considering taking advanced science courses, my recommendations are below. If you are not able to take some of these courses, please do not stress about it. Even if it means you will have to put in a little more effort than your peers, chances are that you will make out just fine with or without taking them. I hope this helped answer the question, and if there is anything else you want to know, feel free to ask!

Recommended Courses to Take Before Medical School
Cell Biology
And I’ll add to the list as the terms progress!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back in Session!

The Best Part of My Winter Vacation

Happy New Year! It feels good to be back on the blog! I had made plans to write all these amazing posts during the break, but I was completely drained from school, and I knew if I opened my laptop that I would be tempted to look at notes or other school-related things. The Monday before Christmas, we had a major exam, in addition to mandatory lab the day before Christmas Eve, so I was just ready to be done. I ended up making the drive back to Louisiana on Christmas Eve, and it was so nice spending time with my family without having to worry about studying. The last time I saw them was during the White Coat ceremony, but since I had an upcoming exam, it really cut into the time that I could spend with them. The best part was having conversations that had nothing to do with medicine! I wanted a free week to relax, so I only spent a few days with my family before making the drive back to Georgia. It was the best decision ever! I literally lied in bed (mostly) all day, every day and binged on Netflix, sleep, and junk food. My daughter received a ton of gifts and basically didn’t want to be bothered either, so she left me alone to be completely lazy (plus, I was sick so she really didn’t want to be around me, LOL). It was wonderful!!!! Someone recently asked if most medical students study during their holiday breaks, and I think I can say with almost absolute certainty, that the answer for most students is absolutely not! Medical school burns people out and deprives them in ways that are hard to understand unless you’re going through it, so when we get breaks we tend to take and enjoy them. I know a lot of my classmates took trips to spend time with their families, and others just went on vacation. There were a few that attempted to study, but I would say it was less than a handful. My opinion is that the work will always be there, but the free time doesn’t come as easily, so medical students should not be afraid to live a little and relax every now and then. It truly does make a world of difference.

On a present note, today was our first day back to class after a very much needed winter break, and I was super ready to get back in action. Well, at least until my alarm rang this morning :-/ It was definitely a struggle getting back into the swing of things after almost two weeks of absolute freedom, and since my daughter doesn’t start school until tomorrow, I really debated taking an extra free day and staying at home this morning. Not waking her up and getting her back on schedule would have made tomorrow morning worse, so I dropped her off at daycare and headed to class. From there, it was back to a long day filled with lectures. Since we are on a trimester schedule and we started second term well before the break, I also get the added bonus of having to study for a midterm exam this Wednesday, along with two more exams and a practical next week. The good news is these exams will be in my OMM and primary care skills courses, and I tend to do well on these. Plus, since I took my primary care practical exam before the break, I will not have any class this Thursday since they split this exam into two groups (yay!). So now I just have to make it through to Thursday, and then I think I might reward myself with a movie or something else that I can’t really do with my daughter around. This week is looking better already :-)

Oh, and before I forget, I am thinking about doing weekly posts specifically for the pre-medical students. I know I have already answered a ton of questions in my “Applying to Medical School” section, but I am always getting new questions that I did not even think about. I already have a post that I know I absolutely have to put up this week about courses before medical school, but if there is anything specific that you want to see covered, just leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. As always, I hope you all have a fantastic week!

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