Sunday, December 17, 2017

My 4 Year Blogiversary!

Happy Sunday and greetings from CancĂșn!!!! As I currently sit on the beach and relax during my first break in a long time, I realize that today marks four years since I wrote my very first post and started this blog. At that time, I had been newly accepted into medical school and had no idea what would be in store for me. Now, 4 years later, I am in my final year of medical school and I still have no idea what's in store for me in terms residency and the next step in my journey. Nevertheless, I feel absolutely blessed to still be on the path towards becoming a physician, and for all of you amazing readers who continue to stick with me and follow my journey.

I know I don't say it enough, but THANK YOU for reading my blog!!!! There have been many times over the past few years where I have become burnt out and/or started to question my path, but then I get a comment or an email from a reader that inspires and encourages me to stay on track. A lot of people reach out to me and tell me that I inspire them, but the odd thing is that you all inspire me even more! I love hearing your stories of medical school acceptances or how reading one of my posts inspired you to continue on and not give up. That is the reason why I started this blog and why I continue to write even when it gets harder and harder to find the time to sit down and do so. This blog serves as a reminder of my struggles, successes, and the fact that nothing is impossible with a little persistance and dedication. I hope everyone reading this knows that they are capable of achieving their dreams as well, and I thank you for allowing me to share my story.

I won't ramble on and on. I am currently taking the time for a little self care and what better place to relax than in CancĂșn?!?! Although these past few months have been spent with constant travel for auditions, interviews, or the SNMA, I wanted to take the time and do something that was just for me. No stress, no having to be "on", and no wondering if I am making a good impression. Just white sand, clear water, lots of drinks, and a few good books :) I hope everyone reading this is also taking the time for a little #SelfCareSunday and I look forward to sharing more of my journey during the next year and beyond!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

When Dreams Start to Become a Reality

Surgery with Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the first balck female transplant surgeon in the US

In my previous post, I promised I would do a quick recap of my experiences in Delaware last month. This was an exciting month not only because I was finishing up the last of my general surgery audition/away rotations, but because I was blessed with the opportunity to meet some amazing individuals while having awe-inspiring experiences. If you follow me on my Instagram or other social media accounts, then you already know my most memorable experience was being able to assist Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the first black female transplant surgeon in the United States, with surgery! I’ve had so many great moments during my time as a medical student, but this has probably been my favorite thus far. It was definitely something that I will never forget, and it really gave meaning to all the long nights spent studying, the constant sacrifices, and the many times I began to doubt if I was even on the right path. It was just what I needed to further drive my passion to become a surgeon, and I will forever be grateful that I even had the chance to experience this.

Blessed to called her both a friend and mentor

Speaking of great individuals, it’s one thing to have role models in life who you aspire to be like, but to actually meet them and have them be even more fantastic in person is simply amazing! Not only did Dr. Scantlebury open her home to me for the entire month I was in Delaware, but she always made herself available to answer my millions of questions and she gave the best advice. It was so cool being able to hang out with her and I am so blessed to have her in my life as both a phenomenal friend and mentor. I also got the chance to finally meet some of my other mentors while I was in Delaware, and it was so nice to have a support system while I was busy making it through the surgery grind. The hours were rough (especially during the first two weeks I spent in the SICU), and it was stressful at times, but receiving texts and visits throughout the day from some of my mentors made me feel super loved :-)

Some the the University of Delaware SNMA MAPS members

Another highlight of my month in Delaware was getting to interact with some of my SNMA family. I had the pleasure of attending a diversity event where I met some awesome pre-medical students from the University of Delaware who also happen to be the Student National Medical Association’s Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) chapter members. It was a pleasure being able to get their insights and discuss medical school and the admissions process with them. A huge portion of my agenda this year as SNMA National President focuses on inspiring our youth and encouraging students to pursue medical school, so it is good knowing that my efforts are not going unnoticed. Speaking of which, the next SNMA National Leadership Institute will be held in New Orleans, LA January 26-28, 2018, so if you’re a pre-medical student interested in workshops designed to provide you with the knowledge to successfully get into medical school, or a medical student interested in building your leadership skills, click HERE to apply today! I look forward to meeting you and seeing some old faces.
I think this pretty much covers everything I wanted to say about last month. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I think back on how much of a struggle it was to just get into medical school to now where I am getting opportunities to perform surgeries with legends. It is a true reminder of how far I have come, and it reminds me to not forget to bring people up with me along the way. I will continue to share these moments with you all because I want everyone to know that no dream is impossible, and that everything works out and happens at the right time. Just keep pushing, stay determined, and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren't capable of achieving your goals. Anyway, I’m beginning to rant, so I’ll end here. I hope everyone reading this has a great week!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Getting Closer to the Finish Line

All smiles at pursuing my dreams :-)

I’m Baaaaaccckkkk!!!! There are no words to express how busy, stressful, and hectic the past few months have been, but I continue to enjoy every moment and chance I spend continuing to strive for my dreams. I’ve prayed for a long time just to have a chance at the opportunity to start the path towards medicine, and now that I’m here I’m going to embrace every second of it. In a little over five months, I will be Dr. Ward, and that alone is a reason to smile.

A pic that sums up the last several months of my life perfectly

I’m not going to lie and say it has been all rainbows and sunshine over the past few months, because at times it has been far from it. I recently completed the last of my general surgery audition/away rotations, and while it was an amazing experience traveling to different states and experiencing different residency programs, I am so happy to be finished. Having to be on 24/7 while people constantly judge your skills, knowledge, and actions is beyond stressful. Plus, being around other exceptional students who are always on top of their game is enough to foster feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. If I learned only one thing the past few months, it is that I don’t know much of anything. Nevertheless, I have utilized these experiences as learning opportunities, and I feel I have grown tremendously in both my skill set and knowledge base. Plus, I am not afraid to put in the work and do whatever I need to do to make sure I learn everything I need to care for my patients.

Missing my little love

Another thing that no one tells you about fourth year is that it can get pretty lonely. I have spent the past few months in some places where I knew absolutely no one. Not really a problem since 90% of my time was spent in the hospital, but I definitely enjoyed the times when I was able to run into classmates and hang out for a little bit. Plus, I had to be away from my daughter only seeing her in person maybe three times since July, and this was soooo weird for me! I went from seeing her every day and only being apart for maybe a month each year during the summer when she went to spend time with my parents, to only being able to interact with her through video chat. I think it was more of an adjustment for me than her, since she is used to me being busy anyway, but it was definitely bittersweet to see how happy she was that I wasn’t around. Bitter because she really didn’t miss me that much, but sweet because she was constantly surrounded by people who spoiled and made her feel loved. It’s a blessing to have a child who is not only supportive of my dreams, but who doesn’t get upset in my absence and continues to be happy and do well. I literally have no reason to complain, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience mommy guilt from time to time. I will say that the major highlight of the past few months was taking a weekend off to fly and surprise my daughter for her birthday last month. It was such a feel good moment, and I was happy to have my sister there to capture it on video which you can see below:

Now that I am finished with audition rotations, the only things left to do are have a successful interview season, match into a great residency program (prayers requested!), finish out rotations, and graduate! The coming months will be both exciting and somewhat scary, but I look forward to the ride :-)

Since I didn’t have time to detail my experiences in Delaware, my next post will be a recap of my month there since I was blessed with some pretty phenomenal experiences that deserve a separate post. I have a bit more free time now, so I will make sure to type it up in the coming days. Until then, I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Greetings From Ohio!

General Surgery Essentials

It has been entirely too long since my last post, so time for another update! After my general surgery audition rotation in Philadelphia, I landed right back in Georgia for a required 4 week rural family medicine rotation. I had a lot of autonomy, nice hours, an awesome preceptor, and plenty of relaxation time, so I was really happy. Plus, I really enjoyed my time back home, and I was able to spend time with my daughter who I hadn't seen in two months. We both enjoyed much needed mommy/daughter bonding time, and it made me really happy that she is still doing okay despite me being away so much for 4th year auditions.

Selfie with the Georgia Family Medicine crew

After a pretty chill month, it was time to get back into the operating room, so I hit the road to Ohio where I am at now for general surgery audition #3. Today marks the start of week three, and so far I am enjoying my experience. As with any surgery program, the hours are long, but here, there are a huge variety of surgical cases every day, the residents and attending physicians are all super nice, and I enjoy working alongside the other auditioning medical students. Plus, over the past few months I have become super comfortable with suturing, hand tying, and patient management, so everything is a lot less overwhelming now.

Snagging in a little extra study time in between surgery cases

In addition to being on the surgery grind, I also had to fly to Philadelphia last weekend for the Student National Medical Association's (SNMA) National Leadership Institute hosted by the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. As National President of the SNMA, I was responsible for securing the location, finding speakers, putting together all programming, and making sure the weekend ran smoothly. To say I was stressed would be an understatement! Thankfully, I had the help of amazing individuals who helped me with everything from planning these past few months to handling minor things during the event so I could tend to meetings and such last weekend. Team work truly does make the dream work, and I continue to be reminded every day that I wouldn't be able to accomplish anything without the support and help from the fantastic people who surround me. I am super blessed, indeed!

Thank you to everyone who attended the SNMA September 2017 NLI!

Lastly, in terms of general 4th year updates, I have submitted all my residency applications, and now I'm just praying for a decent number of interviews. This waiting game is sooo stressful! The good news is I have one more general surgery rotation after this one, and then I'll be able to head back to Georgia and breathe again.

I think that covers everything for now. The next time you hear from me, I should be in Delaware finishing up the last rotation of my fourth year general surgery grind. I hope everyone reading this is doing well, and I look forward to updating everyone again soon!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Greetings from Philadelphia!

Happy Tuesday and greetings from Philadelphia! Yesterday I started the third week of my 2nd general surgery audition rotation, and things are going pretty well. This month has been a lot less intense than last month, but I am still learning a lot, and I even have time to explore every now and then. Plus, it's been a pretty fun and interesting experience living the "city life".

Representing SNMA at the NMA annual convention

After leaving Oklahoma, I made the crazy long drive to Pennsylvania where I attended the 115th annual convention of the National Medical Association, and gave the "State of the SNMA" address. It was nice being able to network with physicians while representing my organization, and it's always a great time when I'm around my SNMA family.

Practice makes perfect!

My surgery rotation this month has been productive, but definitely different. I enjoy being able to see different team dynamics, and how the residents, attendings, and staff interact with each other. Plus, it's always fun exploring a new hospital system (which I'm pretty used to by now since my third year rotations had me at a new location every month). The only drawback with being at a smaller hospital with a smaller caseload is I don't get as much hands on time with cases this month, so I make use of my free time at home by practicing my suturing and hand tying skills with pigs' feet. I also take the time to read more on my weaknesses in medicine, since surgery requires knowing how to take care of and manage patients before, during, and after they are on the table.

Can't believe she's in the 5th grade!

Outside of rotations, I'm missing my little love! She started her first day of 5th grade last week WITHOUT me, and it was so weird! I've never missed a first day, and it kinda made me sad. Plus, it's been almost two months since we last saw each other, and although we video chat every day, it's just not the same for me. She's perfectly happy and fine though, which makes it even worse! She could at least pretend to miss me, lol. I'll be okay though, and after this I'll have a one month break from auditioning, so I'll be happy to see her and spend time with her again.

My favorite part of this rotation? FOOD!

But other than that, I'm just enjoying my time learning, getting to experience new locations, and meeting new people. Philadelphia has its share of headaches with finding parking, but having awesome food on every corner more than makes up for it. Plus, any day I get to spend pursuing my dreams of becoming a surgeon or being in the operating room is a great one :-) Until next time!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

General Surgery Audition Season in Full Effect!

First day of general surgery audition selfie :-)

The grind doesn't stop, and I am currently in Oklahoma for the month on my first general surgery audition rotation. In case you're not familiar with this, auditions are where medical students go to residency programs they are interested in and "act" as a resident for four weeks. It helps give the programs an idea of who you are as an individual, how you work with and get along with the current residents, and it allows you to not only shine, but get a feel of a program to see if it is worth applying to. In the MD world, these are known as away rotations, but they don't tend to carry a lot of weight. In the DO world, auditions are a big deal (well, at least when it comes to surgery anyway). Some programs will not even grant interviews to students unless they have auditioned at their program, so I would say it's super important. I will pretty much be in a different state every month until December, and super busy, but I will try my best to keep everyone updated.

So far, I am really enjoying my experience. I started last Monday and it has literally been non-stop since orientation. I was so glad that I brought my gym shoes with me the first day because right after orientation I was throwing on scrubs and getting straight to work! I've only been here a week and a half, but have scrubbed in on everything from debridements to below knee amputations to laparascopic cholecystectomies and hernia repairs. This morning I even got to scrub in on a few plastic surgery cases :-) There is something new and exciting every day and I absolutely love it!

My typical day starts around 430am, and I get to the hospital around 5am to round on my patients, type my progress notes, and then meet up with the resident I am assigned to. From there we might round again, and then we usually head to the OR for the procedures scheduled that day. After surgery, we round again, go see new consults, and if we finish early, I go find other surgeons and ask if they need help with anything or if I can scrub in on their case. On Tuesday mornings before surgery, I attend Grand Rounds, and on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6am, I attend didactics with all the residents and attendings. Thursdays are clinic days. At the program I am at right now, I am the only student auditioning in general surgery this month, so I am definitely taking advantage of this and trying to get in as much face time with the residents and attendings as possible. At around 530pm, if there are no new consults, then I go with the residents to do handoff to the night time residents, and I am pretty much free to go.  My evenings are filled with studying for the next day's cases and reading up on things I might have been questioned about earlier in the day. I also make sure to video chat with my daughter, which is always a great way to end the day. After that, if I don't have any conference calls or anything important to do, I either watch a quick show or read, shower, and then go to bed. This is pretty much how it goes every day, and that includes weekends and holidays. This weekend I have to fly out of town to handle some SNMA business, so I am kind of looking forward to being able to sleep in a for a couple of extra hours on Saturday, but kinda sad I might miss some surgery action.

With that being said, I haven't had much time to explore the area I am in because I literally go to the hospital and then my AirBnB location. Oklahoma is definitely way different from what I imagined, but in a good way, and both the weather and people are pretty great. I also ran into two of my classmates who are here auditioning for other specialties, so it was a pleasant surprise to see some familiar faces.

That's pretty much it on my end. The past month has been spent moving, transitioning, traveling, and dealing with a ton of changes, but luckily I adapt to change pretty well. Right now, my main focus is performing my best on this rotation and learning as much as I possibly can without getting in the way of the residents. I am also in the middle of applying to osteopathic residency programs and will be submitting applications in the next day or so. The next few months will probably be the busiest time of my entire medical school career, so please keep me in your prayers. I'll make sure to update everyone as I go, but if you don't hear from me, you know why. Until next time!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Goodbye Vacation, Hello 4th Year!

That 4th year glow!

Vacation time might be over, but I'm officially a 4th year medical student, and couldn't be happier!!! I'm one week into my first rotation of the year, but I'm still feeling the effects of a wonderful two-week break that was filled with relaxation and happy vibes. Plus I found out yesterday that I passed the COMLEX Level 2 CE exam I took on May 8th (and scored higher than my Level 1 exam), so I'm pretty much on cloud nine. I officially passed all of the medical board licensing exams required for graduation which means I'm going to be a doctor, y'all!

Chicago fun!

But to rewind, I finished my third year with a great rotation in neurology that gave me the opportunity to really develop my examination skills, but I was ready for a break! So a few days after my rotation ended, I took a short trip to Chicago and had a blast! I finally got to see the play "Hamilton" (an amazing experience!), checked out the Rolling Stones exhibit at Navy Pier, and I got my fill of super delicious foods. I even took some time to stop by the American Osteopathic Association headquarters. It was great meeting the content editor for The DO magazine, who gave me a tour of the building, let me hold an autographed copy of A.T. Still's biography (he was the founder of osteopathic medicine), and she even hooked me up with some awesome freebies. I was one happy lady :-)

Weekend Girl's Trip

After Chicago, I made a trip to Mississippi to drop my daughter off with my dad since she had just finished school, and then it was off to Louisiana with my mom and two of my sisters for a girl's weekend getaway. We enjoyed the spa, watched a movie, danced, saw Smokey Robinson perform live, and somehow in the mix, I even ended up holding a baby alligator. It was a great time!

More Excitement to Come!

But now, it's back to reality as I'm currently back on the rotation grind. This month, I'm taking it somewhat easy with a family medicine rotation since next month I'll be starting my general surgery audition rotations. I'll be spending the next few weeks packing up and getting ready to live out of my car for a few months, but I'm excited for new adventures. I'll make sure to update everyone on all of that later, along with the other posts I promised, but for now I gotta get back to work!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Breaking Barriers and Excited for What’s to Come!

My excitement at becoming SNMA National President!

It has been a while since my last full post, and sooo much awesomeness has occurred! I’ve officially made it to my 4th year of medical school, am currently enjoying the tail end of a very much needed two-week vacation, and probably what everyone is most aware of is the fact that I recently became the first osteopathic medical student to serve as National President of the Student National Medical Association! Life has been a complete whirlwind for the past 2 months, but I’ll focus this post on the SNMA, and leave my upcoming posts for school, vacation, and mommy-mode updates.  

Extremely blessed to have my daughter and sister attend the conference

On April 14th, I ended my term as President-Elect of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), and was inducted as National President during the Annual Medical Education Conference that was held in Atlanta, Georgia this year. It was such a blessing to have the conference where I live because I was able to bring my daughter to my induction which meant so much to me. Most people don’t realize how much she goes through this journey with me, and despite knowing she’s proud of me as a mother, I wanted her to get the bigger picture and really see why I’m always on conference calls or traveling when I could be spending that time with her. I also brought my sister to the conference, because if it weren’t for her coming all the way to Georgia to take on the job as nanny this past summer, life would be a lot harder and way more expensive (still have to pay her a ton, but a lot cheaper than a stranger LOL). My daughter still talks about the event, and I am extremely happy that I could expose her to thousands of individuals on the path of becoming physicians and let her see her mommy in action at the same time :-)

I attend the best medical school ever!

I was also pleasantly surprised at the amazing support I received from my school during the conference. Not only were both the Philadelphia and Georgia campuses of PCOM well represented at the conference, but the administrative staff even put together a small party to celebrate my new milestone. There was cake, great people from my PCOM family, and I was even surprised to see my picture in an ad in the program book. It was equally great meeting fellow students from my main campus and forming new bonds. I couldn’t attend a better institution and I continue to remain grateful for all the support.

Love my PCOM family!

I am looking forward to my year as president and I’m excited to take you all along on the journey. The SNMA is an organization I am extremely passionate about, and my goal is to use my position to continue the mission of the organization and focus on my passions of inspiring youth to become physicians, supporting my fellow non-traditional students, breaking barriers, and representing the osteopathic medical profession. I hope you all will stick around for the ride!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Featured in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution!

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while since my last post, and soooo much has happened since then, but I'm currently traveling and will have to share all of the exciting updates next week. Until then, please check out my most recent feature in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that can be found HERE. I am super honored to have my story shared, and I hope it inspires some of you. Wishing everyone a very happy Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Updates on an Exciting Month!

Daniel Hale Williams Pre-Medical Honor Society at UVA

It’s getting harder and harder to post frequently, but I’m still here! The past month has been a complete whirlwind, but I have enjoyed every last bit of it :-)

My most notable experience this past month was being invited to the University of Virginia to be a keynote speaker for the “Path Toward the White Coat” event hosted by the SNMA MAPS chapter Daniel Hale Williams Pre-Medical Honor Society at UVA. It was an amazing experience being able to connect with some of the organization’s pre-medical students, and their hospitality was top-notch. They showed me their beautiful city and campus, and even took me on Monticello and vineyard tours. I was impressed by the students, and it was a great reminder of where I used to be. I was happy and honored to offer my advice and be a part of a great program. Thank you, UVA!

Not a doctor yet, but thankful for the invite!

As for rotations, when I last left off, I was just finishing up my Family Medicine / Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (FM/OMM) rotation. Since that time, I completed an ambulatory internal medicine (IM) rotation, and I am currently on an inpatient IM rotation that includes pulmonology, critical care, and some outpatient care. The patients are definitely a lot sicker on this rotation, but I am really enjoying the experience. My preceptor allows me to see all the new consults and do charting on my own, so the autonomy is a plus. It forces me to develop good assessments and plans, and I like being involved with patients from day one. I am also rotating at three hospitals in the northeast Georgia area, and while the drive is a bit far, it’s actually one of the best commutes I’ve had so far. I just have a straight 40 minute drive in the morning with virtually no traffic, so it’s quite enjoyable. Definitely beats sitting in up to two hours of traffic when driving towards the Atlanta area! Plus, the hospitals are in pretty scenic rural areas and I just love the country feel (and the super sweet tea in the cafeteria!). The picture below is the view from a patient room in one of the hospitals I am in…Sooo pretty!

Gorgeous view from hospital room

In my last post, I wrote about recently completing my COMLEX Level II – PE exam. I am happy to say the results are in, and I passed!!!! Sooo happy to have that over with and now it’s on to the next one. Right now, I am registered for COMLEX Level II – CE on May 8th, but I am considering pushing it back a few weeks if I can find a testing center that isn’t too far away. I’m 27 days away, and I’ll be missing a few days of study time this week due to the SNMA AMEC conference, so if my practice scores aren’t where I want them to be in about a week or so, I have no problem taking more time to study.

Study Grind!

This week, the biggest thing on my plate is the Student National Medical Association’s Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC). On Friday, I will officially become National President of the organization, and I am sooooo excited! I can’t wait to re-connect with our members, attend awesome workshops, and present my executive agenda. A lot of hard work has been put into making this conference a success, so I’m looking forward to another great conference and an exciting new year. So for those of you who will be in attendance this week: don’t be afraid to say hello when you see me and I look forward to seeing you all right here in Atlanta!

See you in Atlanta!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Register Now for SNMA AMEC 2017!!!!

The Annual Medical Education Conference of the Student National Medical Association is about a month away, and I am super excited!!!! It will be at this conference where I finally end my elect year and become National President of the organization, so I can't wait to share what I have planned for the year with everyone in attendance.

The deadline for regular registration ends tomorrow, and then the prices go up, so if you haven't registered yet, click HERE and do so today! Plus, the hotel is selling out fast, so be sure to reserve a room if you haven't already done so. We will have many great workshops and speakers including my inspiration Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, as well as neurosurgeon Dr. James P. Chandler, just to name a few. The schedule is super packed, so feel free to click HERE and check it out if you would like to see it for yourself.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Atlanta, and I hope you all are having a fantastic week!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Family Medicine, “Dirty 30” Celebrations, and Another Board Exam Completed

I can’t believe it has been more than a month since my last post!!!! Life has been ridiculously busy and there has been so much I wanted to share with you all, but not enough time to sit down and do so! I’m even super behind on emails and comments, but I'll make it a priority to get through everything by the end of the week. Tonight, I’ll try my best to do a quick recap of everything that you all might have missed, and include what I consider to be the most important highlights :-)

Best Birthday Cake Ever!!!! (Yep, it even tops my 27th cake)

For starters, I recently celebrated my birthday and officially joined the “Dirty 30” club. I think I celebrated every night the entire week of my birthday, which was rough considering I started a new rotation, but sooo worth it! I partied alongside Cam Newton (technically he was just sitting in the same section as me in the club, but I’m still counting it LOL), was surprised with the most amazing cake ever, and even got a chance to enjoy a Sips Under the Sea event one evening at the Georgia Aquarium. Thirty feels awesome and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the decade has in store!

Sips Under the Sea at the Georgia Aquarium...Drinks, fish, and no kids!

As for rotations, I finished my family medicine rotation last month, and I really enjoyed the experience. It made me feel a lot better about writing notes and presenting patients, and it was nice being a part of a dually accredited MD/DO program with some residents who had graduated from my school. I also got the chance to do and observe a couple of procedures, so that made me happy.

Having fun with the FM residents and attendings

This month I am on my Family Medicine / Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (FM/OMM) rotation, but my preceptor doesn’t really do any OMM, so it is basically a repeat of family medicine in the outpatient setting. I’m definitely not complaining though, because we see at least twenty patients per day, the pace is non-stop, and I am learning a ton! Plus, I had the chance to do OMM during my rotation last month, so I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. The cases have a lot of variety, I am constantly looking things up, and I am pretty sure I have a solid list of ICD-10 codes memorized at this point. Today, he even let me do two I&D procedures back-to-back since he is fully aware of my love of surgery, which definitely makes up for the 10+ hour work days with only five minute lunches with the drug reps if I’m lucky.  

COMLEX Level 2 PE = Complete!

I think the final update on my list is the completion of my COMLEX Level 2 PE medical board exam. This is the physical exam portion of our boards where we get eight hours to see 12 patients, do their physical exams, and write up SOAP notes on them. This is a requirement for graduation, and for osteopathic medical students, the exam is only offered in Philadelphia or Chicago, so I made my way up to Philly a couple of weeks ago and took my exam. I won’t know the results for a few months, but I’m hoping it went well. I immediately starting thinking about all the mistakes I made after taking the exam, but hopefully I passed and now I'm ready to move on to the next one. The bright side is I only have one more board exam to go during my medical school career, and I got the chance to explore my school’s main campus and FINALLY eat a philly cheesesteak!

Visiting PCOM's main campus for the first time

I think that sums everything up! Right now, I’m finishing up the last week of my FM/OMM rotation and then next week I start my Internal Medicine Ambulatory rotation. Right now, I need to go study for Friday’s OMM COMAT exam, but I hope everyone reading this is having a great week! I’ll try my best to not go so long without posting next time, but you can always keep up with me through my Instagram pics and stories (@LSUsweetheart). Until next time! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Post for the Pre-Meds: Low GPA? Low MCAT? There’s Still Hope!

A couple of people recently contacted me freaking out about the new AACOM Repeat Policy Coursework change that was recently announced, and it prompted me to write this post. I’ve always been transparent about the fact that I had extremely low undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores when applying to medical school, but outside of the MCAT, I never actually revealed how low my actual GPA was. I think now would probably be a good time to reveal those scores and explain why I think this new policy change is something that really shouldn’t be stressed about in the grand scheme of everything, especially when it comes to applying to osteopathic medical schools.


I graduated from my undergraduate institution with a 2.2 GPA and over 150 hours. No amount of retakes was going to raise my GPA above the 3-point-whatever GPA that everyone thinks you absolutely need to have when applying to medical school. Additionally, my school had a rule that you could not retake a course that you received a C or higher in, and the main reason for my low GPA was the fact that I made a lot of C’s in my courses. It was an absolute requirement to retake any course with a grade of a D or lower, and I will admit that I did have a few retakes in there. Additionally, I entered into college with a low GPA to start because I attended a full-time joint enrollment honors program at a university during my senior year of high school, didn’t take it seriously, and later found out that any and all college coursework would be included in my application. As you can see above, I barely scored above a 2.5 on my AACOMAS application with the retakes included, and my AMCAS GPA was absolutely abysmal! My graduate GPA was a huge saving grace for me (my GPA was higher when I graduated, but at the point of my application it was as listed), but even with that included, my AACOMAS GPA only went as high as a 2.7.

With that being said, I was still able to gain an acceptance into medical school, so it just goes to show that some schools really do more than just screen based on numbers. There are both MD and DO schools that will look at the last 30 or so hours of your coursework and only focus on that as your cumulative GPA which will still give an advantage to students taking post-bacc or graduate coursework. If you have been retaking courses and were counting on the DO grade replacement policy to help you get an acceptance, I wouldn’t give up hope. As stated on the AACOM website: “Osteopathic medical schools may continue recalculating and weighing applicant GPAs per their established admissions practices. The scope of this policy change is limited to the AACOMAS verified GPA calculation.” To me, this pretty much means schools will continue to look at applications in the same way as before, although now they might have to make a few adjustments. Just focus on continuing to improve both your GPA and overall application, and everything will work out the way it should in the end. Also, if you are applying to DO schools, keep in mind that the majority of them tend to focus on the entire applicant and not just the stats, which is a major reason why I applied. If every other part of your application is stellar, but your GPA and MCAT scores are lacking, just be able to explain it and prove that you would be able to excel in medical school despite your shortcomings.

My MCAT Scores

Speaking of the MCAT, this post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t throw that in here as well. I know there is a new MCAT with a completely different scoring system than there was when I took it, but as you can see (and also as I previously mentioned HERE) my scores were even low with that! I was seriously a true underdog when it came to applying to medical school, but my passion wouldn’t let that stop me from pursuing my dreams.

To those of you applying to medical school, I think it is extremely important to avoid the negativity and continue to push hard and work towards achieving your dreams. I remember reading posts on SDN that said someone with my stats (and especially a single mother) would never make it through the first year of medical school or pass their board exams, and now I am sitting here as a third year medical student who not only made it through my first two years without any major issues, but managed to pass the first part of both my MD and DO board exams, and to date, I have not received less than an honors evaluation (with some final grades as high passes after the shelf exams LOL) on any of my clinical rotations. I say this not to brag, but to be a source of encouragement and inspiration for those of you who have the dream of becoming a physician, but do not think it’s possible. I still have another year and a half to go, along with more upcoming board exams (please pray for me!), but even I have the faith that if I continue to do my best, keep the faith, and push through, everything will fall into place as it should. I’ll end here, but I truly hope this post helped motivate, inspire, and put some of you at ease.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dream and live the life you've imagined" - Henry David Thoreau

Monday, January 9, 2017

SNMA January 2017 NLI Recap – Dallas, Texas

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Student National Medical Association’s National Leadership Institute (NLI) and Third Quarterly Board of Directors meeting which took place in Dallas, Texas. It was sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians, and like every NLI, it was a very productive and enjoyable experience.

One thing I was not expecting was for Dallas to be so cold! It was actually 24 degrees and snowing when I landed on Friday, which was way colder than Atlanta was that day. Despite the freezing temperatures, the trip started off with a reception and evening meetings not too long after I landed. The next day was filled with guest speakers with topics ranging from understanding your personal brand to setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and developing leadership skills. We also attended a discussion on “setting a vision that others can follow” with Dr. Stuart Flynn, the dean of Texas Christian University School of Medicine (accepting its first class in 2018), and it was interesting getting his take on board exams and effective learning environments for medical students.

For me, the best part of this NLI was having the opportunity to present my 2017-2018 executive agenda to the SNMA Board of Directors. This has been something I have been working extremely hard on over the last few months, and I was excited to unveil it and receive great feedback. I’ll be equally excited when I get the chance to present it to the general SNMA membership at our annual medical education conference that will take place April 12-16, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia (registration is now open for all those interested!).

But to keep things short, I really enjoyed myself this past weekend, and it has me completely ecstatic for the year to come. SNMA leadership works very hard to make sure all of our membership is supported, and it is always nice when we are able to come together and discuss our progress and goals. If you are a pre-medical or medical student who has not joined SNMA, then I suggest you do by clicking HERE, because it is an amazing organization! That pretty much sums up my weekend though, so I hope everyone reading this has an awesome week :-)

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