HPREP 2017

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Hi everyone!

Last week I participated in the 2017 Ransdell Family Health Professions Readiness & Enrichment Program at Campbell University. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life! It’s not only good for pre-med students, they also host pre-pharmacy, pre-nursing, pre-PT, and pre-PA students! Basically, if you’re interested in healthcare, this is for you!

It lasted about 5 days and the great thing about it is that I only had to pay for airfare and snacks, everything else was covered by the program. There were a lot of students from the east coast, and a few of us from the more western states, so you get to meet a lot of new people; if you think about it, you just met the future of healthcare! 🙂

So let’s talk a little bit about what we did; I will try my best to describe it but it’s really one of those things you have to experience to fully grasp what the program was about. We got split up into groups, which were always changing but we had our main mentoring group. Ours was called Gaylord’s Minions, but it turned into Where’s Abraham? He was one of the group members and it seems that we were always asking about where he was. It was a pretty funny week! And for those of you wondering, Gaylord is the name of the school’s mascot. I guess he was named after a baseball player that went to Campbell. You can find out more about that here. Anyway, back to the mentoring group. I was lucky enough to be paired up with a DO student at the school; she was so helpful and answered all my questions about their DO program. I feel like I understand the difference between DOs and MDs a lot better now thanks to her. I’m probably biased, but she was the best mentor and we had the best group!

We had a few guest speakers, which were amazing. They talked about things like diversity and becoming more inclusive, serving others more and making our life be about that, etc. It was a lot of information, and I wish I had taken notes; I was so amazed by being a part of the program that I forgot my notebook! So if you participate in the program in the next few years, definitely take some notes!

We also had workshops where we learned about things like networking, goal setting, and the different programs Campbell had to offer. We got to talk to a lot of the faculty and staff from the school and had a chance to ask them questions. We also toured the main campus, getting to see their Pharmacy buildings and compounding lab. This was mostly the format for the first two days.

The third and fourth days were by far my favorite! We got to tour the medical school and learn about the technology they used to teach their students. We had a “lecture” about OMM, osteopathic manipulative medicine, and we got to try a few things with a partner. Not gonna lie, I’ve been using what I learned on everyone on my family. My husband is pretty tired of it by now! I just fell in love with OMM though; I think I would want to do a residency on it if I get accepted into a DO program. We had the two DO students practicing OMM on some of the faculty the first two nights, and I stayed up until midnight watching them. I absolutely love what they do, and when they’re done and the patient gets up feeling better? Priceless.

We also got to touch a plastinated cadaver and we participated in an emergency and birthing simulation lab; these were very cool because the robots they used could blink, breathe, have someone talk through them, have vitals… It was just a very cool experience. The emergency sim could vomit and you could draw blood from him, but we didn’t get a chance to see. It could get messy, so I don’t blame them for not doing it! Another thing we got to do was test prep! We split up into different groups based on the test we would need, MCAT, GRE, or PCAT, and we had a Kaplan instructor give us an interactive lesson. It was a bit intense, but I’m happy to say that my O-Chem and Psych/Soc knowledge is still pretty fresh. I need to practice/study the other subjects, but I feel a little better about it. We also had, amid a tornado watch, a scavenger hunt in the PT/PA/nursing building. It was four flights of stairs and the most fun I’ve had in a while. It was called Camelpalooza; their mascot is a camel so that’s probably where the name came from. We had clues, run up and down the stairs to get to the correct place, do an activity as a group, and get the next clue before we continued our run.

Finally, our last day was a half day. We got to participate in a service project where we filled paper bags full of food for children in the community. It was the fastest project I’ve ever done; the teamwork from all the groups was truly astounding. It was supposed to last two hours and we got done a little before the hour mark.

Honestly, it’s difficult to describe what an amazing week I had. The feel of the school was that of a big family, the Campbell Family as they like to call it. It felt like home and everyone was incredibly nice. Not to turn it into a sad post, but I found out my grandmother passed away while at the program. Everyone was so sweet offered comforting words and hugs. I’m so thankful to have these new, amazing people in my life. I even had one of the mentors, who was in the pharmacy program, give me some incredible advice, which I will share with you.

She told me that although this was a difficult thing to go through, we have to look at the positive. Not to take away from the experience, but to sort of add to it. She said that I could use this to empathize with my future patients who will go through this. I was very upset and tired at the time, so I don’t remember her exact words, but what I got from it was all that matters. How could I use this experience to make my future patients have an easier time? I can’t take their pain away, and I can empathize, but what else can I do?

My grandmother had dementia. It has been a long time since I had talked to her, and a longer time since she had known who I was. She lived in Peru, so I was never able to go visit her, but I saw pictures of her throughout the years. Although she was well taken care of, I KNOW that not everyone is. As a CNA, I have seen how people treat their patients sometimes. It can get downright inhumane, and there ARE cases of abuse. So, what can I do to make my patients lives better?

In honor of my grandmother, I’m going to find ways to make the quality of life of patients with dementia better. I’m not sure how, but I will figure it out. I want my career to be about bettering the lives of my patients, so what better way than to start here? I will keep you updated with what I’ll be doing with this, and if you have any tips or advice please let me know!

All in all, this experience has taught me that we should always be looking for ways to help others. One of the things a guest speaker talked about was asking, “How can I help you?” This has resonated with me, and now I get up every day and try to find ways to help those around me. I’m by no means perfect, but at least I’m trying. Next week I’ll give you some more insight as to how it has specifically changed the way I do things at the hospital I volunteer at. Stay tuned. 🙂

Overall, I highly recommend this program! Look it over and if it interests you, sign up next year. If you’re like me and live far away, don’t be scared! I know I was terrified to go to the other side of the country, but it worth it! Take a leap, you won’t regret it! You will be EXHAUSTED by the end of the week, but you will have gained so much knowledge about healthcare and about yourself. You won’t regret it! And who knows, maybe they’ll accept me into their MSBS program and I’ll get to be your mentor! If you want more info about this program, click here.

Cheers!

Andrea.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few pictures of my experience. 🙂 First- HPREP 2017 participants and mentors. Second- Yours truly super excited to be at the medical school. Third- Gaylord’s Minions/Where’s Abraham group with Gaylord himself.

Studying for Organic Chemistry

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Hi everyone!

I’ve had a few people ask me how I studied in order to do well in O-Chem. I figured I could write it all down here for any who might find it useful. 🙂

First, a little background on my learning style. I learn best by watching others do whatever it is I’m learning. Once I’ve seen it, I practice a lot. Having visual cues as well as auditory ones are important for me; if I can’t see it, I don’t remember it well. Reading the book helps me a lot, but this won’t work for O-Chem! You HAVE to practice. Practice so much that you dream about O-Chem! This isn’t necessary, this is just what happened to me! It was pretty funny but also scary.

So, with that in mind, this is what I did to do well in O-Chem!

1) Go to class. The best thing you can do is to go to class! This is great because you’ll learn exactly what you’ll need for your quizzes or exams.

2) Go over your notes. I read over my notes and re-wrote my notes at least twice. Most of the time, I would re-write them three times. This helped me remember the theory part of things, which does involve some memorization.

3) Practice questions. We got lucky with this, because our professor would pick book problems that he felt were useful for us to practice. Besides that, he would post old quizzes and exams for us to do to get more practice and get used to his exam style.

4) Watch videos. This probably saved my grade. I watched a lot of youtube videos! The ones that helped me the most were khanacademy, Leah4sci, and theorganicchemistrytutor. Theorganicchemistrytutor has really long videos, but it’s worth it to watch them all the way through. Khanacademy videos are always free; Leah4sci runs a tutoring service, so not all of her things are on youtube; theorganicchemistrytutor has some videos you can pay to watch, but I’ve never watched those.

5) Tutoring. At our school we have something called supplemental instruction. A student who has done well in the class holds sessions 3x a week to go over the material and help you understand it better. I went twice a week, but if my schedule would’ve let me I would’ve gone 3x. They also have one-on-one tutoring, but that doesn’t help me as much as group studying.

6) Study group. My friend and I would meet every Saturday morning to study for our quizzes or exams. This was very useful because if one of us didn’t know something, the other could explain it in terms we could understand. Plus, if you can teach it, you will learn it better.

7) Read the book. This one was my least favorite thing to do, but sometimes it helped me a lot more than asking my professor. It helps if you read before class, but for me, I had to read it after so I understood the material better.

That’s it! I hope those will help you! If you can’t really sit for long while studying and need to be constantly moving, I heard that recording lectures and listening to them while doing another activity can help. One of my psych professors told us of a girl that would record lectures and listen to them while running. Apparently, this helped her learn and do well in her class!

Good luck with O-Chem!

Andrea.

Reflecting on the Past Year

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Hi everyone!

It hit me a few hours ago what today was… May 19th, the day I was supposed to take the MCAT. Instead, I ran around getting everything ready for my upcoming trip to a medical school for a program specifically for pre-professional students. I will give a recap of that next week when I get back!

Honestly, I feel a little sad. Today was supposed to be the day I finally tackled the big exam. I was supposed to be done by now, I think, and look forward to my next adventure, which was supposed to be my med school application.

I felt terrible when I decided to put it off again. Like I had failed, like I couldn’t put in the effort to study. I also felt relieved, because I had more time to prepare.

I still feel that way. I know I wouldn’t have been ready on time, and I knew I was putting too much on my plate. How was I going to study 35+ hours a week, go to school part time, and take care of two toddlers? I’m sure there are some amazing people out there that could do it, and I admire you all if you have gone through this. You are incredibly strong and determined! But for me, it just wasn’t going to work out. I needed to put as much study time as I could on my classes, and I was already struggling to give my sons the attention they deserved. I know it’s not gonna be easy, it never will be, but with how little my boys were/are, I knew made the right decision for me and my family.

Do I feel guilty? Yes. Am I at peace with my decision? Not ready, but I believe things happen for a reason. Maybe there is something else I’m supposed to do first. Maybe putting it off and applying to post-baccs was the right decision for me. Maybe improving my GPA and getting a Master’s will benefit my application in the long run.

So yes, I’m a little sad, but the path to medical school isn’t always linear. It’s a marathon, uphill, with many obstacles in the way. It’s okay to take longer than most… Time will pass anyway!

Here’s to another year of growth, and here’s to knowing that I WILL take the MCAT by this time next year.

Never give up!

Andrea.

PS: I applied to four total grad schools. The last two have all my application materials! I’m so excited! The first two still don’t have the letters, but I’ll continue to work on it. Fingers crossed!

Gap Year?

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Hi everyone,

The semester is over and I have nothing to do for the next year! Actually, that’s not entirely true… I have to start studying for the MCAT, again, so I can be ready for next Spring!

I haven’t heard back from post-bacc schools and I’ve basically given up on it. The schools have not received my letters of recommedation, and my pre-med advisor is nowhere to be found. He resigned, and although his last day is June 30th, he hasn’t answered any emails or texts. I guess my application is not a priority. I sent in my apllications two months ago, and although he has supposedly sent them twice, the schools don’t seem to get them. This is really frustrating for me, and I’m at a loss as of what to do.

I did apply to another program a few days ago that doesn’t require letters of recommendation, so we’ll see if I get into that one. That program gives you a certificate, not a Master’s, which makes me a little sad. It’s okay though, because I just want a chance to improve my GPA!

I applied to a CNA job as well, but haven’t heard back yet. What do people usually do with gap years? I’m still volunteering at the hospital, and besides MCAT prep and taking care of the twins there’s not much I have going on.

Anyway, happy early Mother’s Day!

Andrea.