Sunday, March 29, 2015

See You in New Orleans!

I am soooo excited about the Student National Medical Association’s Annual Medical Education Conference being held in New Orleans from April 1-5, 2015! This will be the 3rd AMEC that I have ever attended, but it will be my first as a medical student. I am also excited to be presenting my very first workshop! The title of the workshop will be “Applying to Medical School as a Non-Traditional Student”, and I look forward to covering some of the questions I get asked most frequently through my blog, as well as offering a little encouragement and inspiration along the way. Although the focus will be on non-traditional students, the workshop will hopefully help anyone interested in applying to medical school :-)

If you’re a pre-medical student who will be attendance, I would love it if you would come and check me out. I’ll be presenting on Saturday, April 4, 2015 from 11am-12pm, but make sure you download the “AMEC 2015” app to your phones to get the exact location. I would love the chance to meet some of my awesome readers!!!!

With that being said, I have two upcoming exams on Monday and the conference shortly after that, so this will be my last post for at least another week. Leave me a quick note if you’ll be attending this year’s AMEC, and see you in New Orleans!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shark Tank, Forensic Pathology, and Orthopaedic Surgery, Oh My!

Group selfie with Dr. James Lewis, D.O.

I’ve been super busy since I last wrote, so this is a really late post, but I just couldn’t go without telling everyone about two awesome experiences I recently had! Last week, our school hosted Dr. James Lewis as part of our Diversity Speaker series, and I had the honor of being able to introduce him to the school. For those of you who do not know who Dr. Lewis is, he is a world-renowned forensic pathologist (and the first black D.O. one for that matter), a winner of "Shark Tank" (a television show where entrepreneurs get big names to invest in them), a former consultant for shows such as "The X-Files," and a PCOM alum. That is just to name a few of his many accomplishments. A few of us were able to have dinner with him the night he arrived into town, and it was really nice being able to pick his mind and get to know him. I think we talked about everything from ways people try to get away with murder to if O.J. Simpson actually committed the murder (Dr. Lewis was also a consultant for CNBC during his trial). It was also interesting learning how Dr. Lewis entered into the field of pathology, and his thoughts on if he would become a physician if he could do it all over again. The best part was when he let us take selfies with him though :-)

It was an honor being able to introduce Dr. Lewis to GA-PCOM

The next day I was a little nervous before I did his introduction, so I told him, and he proceeded to tell me a story about an experience he had which made him nervous. At the end, he asked me if my life was in danger or if someone would be coming after me, and when I said no, his reply was “well, you have nothing to be nervous about then!” That definitely put things into perspective, LOL! But all-in-all, it was a really great experience, and I really took a lot away from the talk he gave to our school.

Had a great time learning about orthopaedic surgery through the Perry Initiative!

Last Friday, I had another great experience being a part of the Perry Initiative Medical Student Outreach Program in Orthopaedic Surgery that was hosted by Emory University in Atlanta. I absolutely love surgery, although I am keeping my options open as to what specialty I will pursue, so it was fun spending the night learning about all things ortho. The event started with talks from female attendings describing their journey into orthopaedic surgery and how they handle work and their personal lives. We then had a hands-on activity where we learned how to perform both an internal and external fixation. I have to admit, it was pretty fun sawing and drilling into the bone models, and I learned a lot in the process. After the activity, we were able to listen to female residents give their current experiences in the field, and there was a question and answer session. I had previously shadowed in on a few ortho surgeries in the past and wasn’t too hot on the idea of just drilling and sawing all day, but after participating in this experience, I think I might keep the option open.

Other than that, I had an exam this Monday and what seems like a million other things to do that have kept me from being able to blog. I also haven’t been answering my e-mails or messages since my last post, but hopefully I will be all caught up on everything tonight. Until next time!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

GA-PCOM Formal 2015

Photo booth fun :-)

Who says proms end with high school?!!!! LOL On Friday, I attended my school’s formal which was held at the Atlanta Biltmore Ballrooms, and it was a blast! Nowadays, it is pretty rare for me to get dressed up, so I jumped at the opportunity. It was nice seeing my other classmates and professors dressed up as well, and one of my professors even got in on the photo booth action with us. We ate, danced, took lots of pictures, and had a great time not worrying about studying. My absolute favorite part was the food! There was a southern buffet that included greens, cornbread, macaroni & cheese, shrimp & grits, scalloped potatoes, fried chicken w/ gravy and a few other things that I sadly couldn't fit on my plate. It was amazing!!!! I was also really proud of myself for pulling off my hairstyle that night. I had watched a video on YouTube that I wanted to try, and having very limited time to get ready since we had class from 8am-4pm, I was so happy to be able to do my hair in under thirty minutes. Additionally, I was extremely blessed to have a classmate who did not want to attend the formal offer to have my daughter over for a sleepover with her daughter so that I could go out and enjoy the night. Anyway, I have a lot of studying that I need to do, so the rest of this post will be pictures from Friday night. I hope everyone has a great week :-)

On my way to the venue

I loved my dress!

The food was on point!

The place was gorgeous, but this is the only pic that shows some of it

YouTube to the rescue! Loved my hair :-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Term 3: Let's Go!

Ready to study the brain and everything that comes with it!

Today was the first day of my third term of medical school, which means I will be consumed with neuroanatomy for the next thirteen weeks, but I am also thirteen weeks closer to finishing my first year of medical school! I have mixed emotions about this term, mainly because I didn’t do so well when I took neurobiology as an undergrad, but I am definitely excited to learn about the human brain. We will also be back in the anatomy lab this term studying our cadaver brains and spinal cords, so that should be fun as well. The one thing that I am not excited about is having lab practical exams again, but hopefully it won’t be as bad as first term when we had to cover the entire body.

Spring break treats

As for my spring break recap, I pretty much did very little the entire week and it was wonderful. I went out for tea (because I don’t drink coffee) with one of my classmates one day last week, but aside from that, nothing spectacular happened. For the most part, I would wake up at my normal time to get my daughter ready for school, take her to the bus stop, and then come back home and sleep until 3 or 4pm when I would go pick her up. I guess I was extremely sleep-deprived, because it didn’t affect my night-time sleeping habits, and I did it just about every day. I guess I got my fill though, because last night I absolutely could not fall asleep at all, and I’m still going strong at the moment. I’m pretty sure I will end up going to bed early tonight though.   

My little princess

Before the start of any new term, I like to make sure I get in as much time as possible with the little one, so we did have our mommy-daughter time this weekend. On Saturday, I took her to a place called Medieval Times, and she really enjoyed it. Basically it’s a place that serves a full dinner (that you have to eat with your hands), and entertains you with show that involves kings, queens, horses, and knights. It was pretty unique and my daughter enjoyed cheering for her knight and even catching the flower he threw to her. On Sunday, she received a last-minute invite to a birthday party at a go-kart facility. It was her first time in a go-kart, so she was nervous at first, but she ended up loving it. I didn’t get a chance to get in on the action, but I will definitely be making plans to go back in the future for a little post-exam fun with my classmates. It’s always nice to see a smile on her face, so I was happy to be able to witness her enjoy a new experience. Speaking of the little one, it’s about that time to go pick her up, so I will update you guys later. I hope everyone is having an awesome Monday!  

Ready to ride :-)

The helmet was bigger than her body! LOL

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Post for the Pre-Meds: Newly Accepted, but Afraid of Future Failure

@D Ward Something has been plaguing me. How did you adjust to your first year? I got accepted to WVSOM and I'm trying to think of good studying techniques before starting my first year. How do you know when you are ready? I'm just afraid of having a bad exam lol losing it. I just guess I'm just a little scared of the unknown lol

Sorry to go out of order from answering the questions I have received, but even though this one was asked more recently, I feel it’s a question that many newly accepted students are having at the moment. In my opinion, I don’t think any student entering medical school feels completely ready at the beginning. I mean, sure you might have advanced degrees, honored your way through college, and/or a whole bunch of other things that affirm your ability to handle what is to come, but like any new thing in life, you will still be entering into the unknown. You really won’t know you’re ready until you’re actually in the midst of everything, but you would not have been accepted if your school didn’t feel you were ready for the challenge. Now I am just a first year student myself and still adjusting, but I have felt the same anxiety with each new term, and probably will continue to with each new step.

As for being afraid of having a bad exam, I think it would be pretty hard to complete medical school without having had at least one bad exam. For some people, the word “bad” could mean not making an A on an exam, and for others it could mean failing an exam, so I think the word is pretty subjective. I think it is more important to stay positive and focus on the good, rather than the bad. It just doesn’t make sense to plant negativity in your mind and set yourself up for failure before you even start.

 For what it’s worth, I have already had the experience of having failed an exam, and even though I thought it was the end of the world at the time, I still ended up being fine. My second term of medical school was a great one for me, but it was a lot harder for me to adjust to my first term. My worst exam occurred a couple days after the white coat ceremony, and I performed so poorly on it that I was called into a meeting with the Student Progress Evaluation Committee (SPEC). At the time, I thought students were only called into a meeting with this committee if they were a part of the bottom ten percent of the class and in danger of being kicked out, so I completely freaked out. Apparently, this was not the case, but it still really stressed me out. When I walked in the door, the first thing one of the professors asked was “what the hell happened?,” and I was given the opportunity to explain why my performance was so low on that particular exam. At the end, I was basically told to go back to doing what previously worked for me, but I took away a few important points from the entire experience that I have shared below.

Don’t get bogged down with resources

I might be a bit biased, but I’m pretty sure my class beats out any medical school class out there. Not only am I surrounded by a bunch of wonderful, intelligent individuals, but everyone is always willing to help out each other in any way possible. Whether it’s sharing textbooks, websites, notes or anything else needed to succeed, there is always someone in the class willing to go out of their way to help the next person. With that being said, it is so easy to become overwhelmed with all the resources offered! It is so important to identify the best (and least amount) of resources possible that can help you achieve your goals. If you try to use every resource that you are offered, not only will it add more time to your studies, but it might burn you out even faster.    

Don’t focus on what (or how) other students are doing

This bounces off the last point, and I know I’ve said it before, but it is so important to do what works for you! You might have a classmate who only studies the PowerPoint slides the night before an exam, and somehow ends up acing everything, or another who spends at least twelve hours a day studying to do well. The reason why I failed the exam that I previously mentioned was because I started focusing on what everyone else was doing. I asked my classmates what worked for them, and then I tried to incorporate everything into my studying which turned into a disaster. Plus, if everyone around you seems to be doing well, and you aren’t, it can cause you to become slightly depressed which will negatively affect your grades.  

Study smarter, not harder

The first term of medical school I studied a minimum of five hours every day and tried to at least get in sixteen hours on the weekend. Looking back now, this was overkill. I was studying my notes, reading textbooks, doing practice problems, and using board review resources. If I had identified the best resources early on, then my studying time would have been cut in half. I also sacrificed a lot of sleep, which is always a no-no. It doesn’t matter how many hours of studying you accomplish in a day if you have nothing to show for it, so figure out how to make your time most effective. This will also allow for things like exercise and free time which will help you feel like school is not completely consuming your life.

Don’t be afraid to reexamine and change study habits

Going into medical school, you have to be willing to completely change your study habits. Even if you were able to study an hour before an exam in college and always make an A, that is probably not going to cut it in medical school. If simply reading a textbook has always helped you do well, you might have to change that as well, unless you’re able to read through thousands of pages a night, every night. If you tend to spend a lot of time on social media sites or watching television in between studying, you might even have to cut that out if you start to struggle. Medical school is a constant adjustment, with new terms and new professors, so you have to be willing to adapt and go with the flow in order to achieve the best results. In the future, you won’t be treating every patient the same, so there is no reason why you should treat every class the same.   

Seek help before it becomes a problem

If you enter school and you feel like you are drowning from the start, seek help! Most (if not all) schools have learning centers designed to help you succeed. They can help you discover your learning style, find you a tutor, and just about anything else you can think of. Don’t wait until you are failing to seek help, but instead get help before you even need it. At the very worse, if you do end up having an entirely bad term, at least it will be on the record that you actively sought out help and it could end up being the difference between being dismissed from a school or given the opportunity to come back and try another year.

Take a moment to sulk (but get back up and try again)

If you do end up having a bad exam, it is ok to take a moment and be upset about it. If that means fifteen minutes of crying in your car or stopping everything to take a nap, then do whatever it is you need to do. After that, brush yourself off and try again. Medical school truly is a marathon and not a sprint, so don’t dwell on one bad moment. Use it as an opportunity to figure out your weaknesses and how you can improve. Lastly, realize chances are high that you are not the only one in your class going through the same thing. Failing an exam might seem like the end of the world when it first happens, but I can promise you that years from now when you are finally a physician, it won’t even matter.

I hope this fully answers the question, but as always, let me know if I need to clarify anything. I answered the question about study habits in a previous post (which can be found HERE), so I tried not to be too redundant. But basically, my main point is to not worry about failing out of medical school before you even start, and always be willing to adjust. For the newly accepted students, take this time now to celebrate and relax, because it won’t be too long before you’re in my shoes.

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