Pre-med

Almost done with the semester!

Hello everyone!

Hope your weekend is going well! Life has been pretty hectic lately. I have a final lists of schools I’ll be applying to and I’m getting ready for 3 more quizzes and 1 more exam before I finish the first year of my Master’s! It’s so crazy to think about that.

By this time last year I had submitted my applications for post-baccs and I remember how stressed I was. With med school apps right around the corner, I can feel the stress creeping up again. We’ll see how it goes!

Andrea.

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Pre-med

Quick update

Hi everyone!

The semester has been crazy busy. We just finished our second exam and got our results today. I’ve been doing well in two subjects but anatomy is not my favorite right now! I hope it’ll get better now that we’re getting into the brain! It should be more enjoyable.

MCAT is… MCAT. I have no motivation and I feel discouraged every time I study for it. I’m not sure how to get out of this rut. 😕

Now it’s time for some well-deserved sleep!

Andrea

Life, Pre-med

Self-care

Hello everyone!

Wow, this week has both gone way too fast and dragged! It was a tough one; the boys completely switched and didn’t seem to want to nap and kept fighting. My study time has significantly gone down this week, but I still managed to preview, review, and do some MCAT prep. It wasn’t perfect, but something is better than nothing, right? That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. 🙂

This week has been particularly difficult in terms of self-care. I haven’t gotten nearly enough sleep, even when I tried to go to bed early. I felt pretty burnt out… so this is what I did to try to help me through it.

After taking care of my favorite alarm clocks, I made some tea. I love tea, it always helps me relax. I opted mostly for black tea so I could get my caffeine fix too, which helped me wake up.

After the boys nap, if they napped, I put on some makeup. I realize I always feel better after makeup, so I made it a point to it even if I was too tired. It made me feel so much better; I felt pretty and I ready to take on the world! (I can’t be the only one that feels this way, right?)

Finally, once I got home, I waited to study until after I was done working out and showering or after I watched 30 mins of TV. This made my night a little longer, since I still needed to get studying done, but it was so helpful in the long run. I was able to concentrate more, and even though my sleep wasn’t as great, I didn’t feel like I had done everything for everyone except for myself. Once I was done studying, I did some guided meditation before bed to help me relax.

Here’s some other ideas for self-care that I try to do when I have a bit more time:

  • Bubble bath
  • Dance
  • Hang out with friends
  • Watch a movie
  • Listen to music
  • Read
  • Go for a walk
  • Get my nails done
  • Grab some coffe with the hubby
  • Visit the animal shelter (it’s been a while since I volunteered there, but this is by far my favorite thing to do!)

Here’s hoping I can get a better night’s sleep this weekend! Just not tomorrow because I’m forcing myself to take a practice MCAT under test conditions. 🤤

Have a wonderful weekend!

Andrea.

PS: If anyone is wondering, the movie from the picture is called Sing. I love it, it’s one of our favorites!

Life, Pre-med

Mom in Grad School

Happy New Year!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and all the wonderful things that have happened. Going forward, I would like to write more helpful posts pertaining to grad school and not just updating you all on how I’m doing although there will be plenty of that too!

This first post will talk about being a mother in grad school and how I’m trying to make it work. I’ve only been in class for a week but I haven’t felt like I’ve missed out on anything studying while caring for my almost three-year-old twins. It hasn’t been easy, but with some planning, I’ve had a pretty successful week!

To keep myself organized I use a planner. The one I have is from popflexactive.com and it has everything I need; a monthly calendar to put important dates in, like quizzes and exams, a weekly schedule with space for goals, ideas, reminders, projects, and things due, and daily to-do lists, space for water intake, food journal, workout journal, and notes as well as a doodle space. This one is sold out, but I’m sure they’ll have a new one for the next school year.

I’ve used planner since 2016 but I had to force myself to use them. After finding one that was specifically made for school I’ve actually looked forward to writing down everything. It helped so much last semester when I wanted to remember when my biostats assignments were due! So far, this semester it has helped keep me accountable for studying for the MCAT, which is the hardest thing for me to study for (Physics and I don’t get along).

Here is what my last week looked like:

Staying organized.jpg

You do not need to get a fancy planner like this. You can use a notebook and personalize it however you want or use an app on your phone. For me, writing it down and being able to see it without using my phone is more beneficial; I’m more likely to start studying without going through Facebook.

So now that I have a schedule, how do I use? It’s easy to write stuff down, but it gets more difficult to actually follow it. If we’re being honest, I don’t follow this exactly; it just isn’t realistic when you have potty-training toddlers. However, if I have it written down, I know what needs to get done that day and will try to follow it. Certain things I do not move, but they don’t have set times during the day. The best example is my MCAT prep; if the kiddos are napping, mama is studying! The time varies but it’s usually 1-3 PM during weekdays. I’m hoping to put in closer to 3 hours a day during the weekends; I’m making a study group with some friends from school to keep each other accountable. According to my Kaplan course, you’re supposed to take one day off a week, but I schedule it in any way to keep things neat.

Another thing that has helped a lot has been meal prepping. You know, that thing everyone tells you to do and you say you’ll do it but never get around to it? Or is that just me? On Sundays, I take a couple hours to find vegetarian/vegan recipes, prep them, and put them in gallon-sized zip lock bags that go in my freezer. I take whichever one I want to have for dinner out the day of and thaw it a little bit before throwing it in my slow-cooker. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner; it saves me so much time! You can do this with every meal, but so far I’ve only tackled dinner. I might start doing it for my breakfast smoothies as well, so we’ll see how that goes!

As far as my study schedule goes, I try to study while I watch the boys play. I take plenty of breaks to join them in the fun and take them to the potty. Sometimes I put on a movie for them if I need to get something done right away, but I try to avoid this since I don’t want them watching too much TV. This isn’t really the greatest way to study, but it’s more of a quick review to make sure I get it done. That means I do a quick review in the morning and MCAT prep during nap time, so what about the rest of the day?

When they wake up from their nap it’s time for me to spend uninterrupted time with them. We eat together, make silly jokes, and play until our wonderful nanny gets here so I’m able to get to school early. Some self-care takes place on my drive to school; I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter audio-books while I drive. 10/10 recommend the British version; the voice actor is fantastic! If I’m not listening to books, I put on my favorite music and pump myself up for class. Once I’m in school I take the time to preview my lectures and whatever time I have left I use it to finish reviewing previous lectures. I get home around 9:30 PM and this is where my schedule is a bit more flexible and where most of my self-care takes place.

Let’s take a moment to talk about self-care…IT’S SUPER IMPORTANT! If you don’t practice self-care you WILL burn out! My self-care during the day is focused on my kids so I feel like I get a little break throughout the day, but by the time class is over I’m pretty tired. I take this time to do things that make me happy!

This is what my self-care looks like:

If I haven’t worked out, I will do a quick 15-minute workout. I’ve been following the daily workouts from Tone It Up and I love it! It’s simple and it doesn’t take very long, which is exactly what I look for in a workout. I try to do this at least every other day, but I’m going to try to get it in every day since I always feel better afterward.

If I don’t work out that night, I take a 10-minute break before I start reviewing the lectures from the day. I will do this until 10:30 PM, but sometimes I don’t do it at all. At that point, I get ready for bed and try to relax by spending time with the husband, watching TV or makeup videos on YouTube I’m obsessed, and texting family and friends. I like to play video games, but I can’t keep those sessions to 30 minutes so I try to avoid them during the week. I usually save it for the time after an exam when I’m too exhausted to do anything but play Sims 4 mindlessly while the TV is on. I’m trying to find books to read as well, so if you have any suggestions let me know! I’m concentrating on pre-med books right now, but I also love fantasy. I’m still working on the third Eragon book; I keep forgetting I have it on my phone! The boys wake up around 7 AM, so I try to go to sleep by 11:15 PM to get enough sleep. Make sure you get enough sleep! I function best with 9 hours of sleep, but that doesn’t happen unless it’s the weekend, so I aim for 7-8 hours. Residency will change this, but until then I plan on getting plenty of sleep!

The last thing that needs to get done during the week is the cleaning. I take one day a week where I clean EVERYTHING. I did it yesterday by myself, but I usually do it on Saturdays or Sundays so I can get my husband’s help. The only thing I do during the week is wipe down the table and kitchen counters, take care of the dishes, and clean up any food that falls under the table. Sometimes I do laundry if my sons are out of clean underwear, but I try to leave that for the weekend if possible.

That’s it! That’s how I’ve been trying to make it work and I’ve honestly been surprised at how much I’ve been able to get done. I was really nervous about it before classes started, but a bit of planning and some help goes a long way.

I hope this was helpful! If you have any tips and want to share them please leave a comment! 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend!

Andrea.

Pre-med

An A is an A is an A

Hello everyone!

I keep meaning to sit down and write this but school has me super busy. For starters, I got a 95% on the integrated exam I talked about last time. Biostats was a different story, but it got curved and I felt a little bit better. Still not where I wanted to be at but I can still make an A in the class; I have a 1 point buffer!

We just got back our results from our third exam. I’m happy to say that I got 100% on Biostats! To be fair, the professor went easy on us, but I’m not complaining! I actually understood the material well so I was expecting a high mark. For our integrated exam, I only got a 89%.

This is the lowest exam score I’ve received and although it is a very good one I’m not satisfied. I aced Anatomy and Microbiology, but Biochem gave me so much trouble. We had two different professors for this exam; I got 100% on the questions from one of them, my favorite professor right now, and only 58% from the other one.

From the first quiz he gave us we knew he would give us trouble. He asked a question from the book, which we’ve never had before, so we approached him and asked for clarification on what we should know. No matter what we asked, his answer was always the same; come to class, read the book, look at the slides. We asked him if we should know the steps and his answer didn’t change. It’s hard to prepare for something when it’s not clear what is expected of you. However, like the good student that I try to be, I did all those things plus watched MCAT videos on the subjects while doing my MCAT prep. I felt really confident about it; three weeks of nothing but glycolysis, TCA cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, and gluconeogenesis just for his lectures. When I sat down for the test I had no idea what was being asked; I felt horrible. We will get a chance to challenge his questions so I hope I’m able to get some points back after we review them. The only way for me to get an A in the class right now is to not miss anymore points. That’s not very realistic, but I’m going to do my best!

It’s seems like a silly thing to get hung up on, but my grades are very important to me. Honestly it’s not just to prove to schools that I can make it, since my first few years in undergrad killed my GPA, but to prove it to myself. I don’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities, and knowing I’m doing well and getting the grades I work hard for puts my mind at ease. I feel like I can do it, like I am smart enough and like I will be successful in med school.

Anyway, that’s my little school update. 🙂 I don’t really have an MCAT update except that I picked a test date; January 19th. I am not ready and I’m not sure I will be by then. I’m putting in a lot of study time but nothing is sticking. I feel like I’m just going through the motions to check things off my list without actually learning. I’ll have to do some serious practicing in December after the semester ends, but right now I’m 99.9% positive I’m going to push it back to April. I was going to do it in March but we’ll have an exam the Monday after I take it, so it’s not worth it to stress about two tests!

We’re exactly one month away from the end of the semester! It’s crazy to think how fast time has gone by. I really hope I can keep it up! I’ll be writing a post on study tips for grad school within the next month, so stay tuned. 🙂

Andrea

Pre-med

Your Anxiety is Lying to You

Hello everyone,

Let’s start off by giving some updates. Our first exam was last month and I aced both my biostats ans integrated exam! I was very happy and honestly a bit surprised about biostats. Our second exam was last night; I feel okay about the integrated, but I know I failed the biostats. My brain completely blanked; I don’t think I studied enough, but it was really disappointing that I couldn’t remember how to do ANYTHING.

The past few weeks have been rough. Coming off the high of the first exam and doing well on the quizzes helped me keep going, but I kept wondering if I would be able to keep it up and this has been slowly draining me of energy. The anxiety that has come with wanting to maintain my standarss has been causing me to feel physically ill; I constantly feel like I’m going to vomit and my body won’t stop shaking. I have this tightness in my chest that I recognize as the start of a panic attack; I haven’t had one in so long that it’s been hard to calm myself down. I’ve been out of practice, which I guess is a good thing. I wish I could talk to my friends about it, but they all seem to have it together better than me and I don’t want to seem weak. I mean seriously, who gets physically ill from not getting A’s? Me apparently…

When I met with ny advisor she was so happy. She basically threw me a party because I did so well and said my test scores solidified what she knew about me. At the time it felt great, but it’s been weighing on me so much since then. What if I fail and prove her wrong? What if I fail and prove myself wrong? What if, what if, what if? What is she going to say next week when we meet again and I don’t have A’s? Will the tears I’ve so desperately tried to hold back finally come out? I eould be so embarassed but I have a feeling it might happen.

I’m so tired of trying to keep it together for my family. I’m tired of being away from my kids. I’m tired of constantly cutting our skype calls short because I feel guilty for not studying. I’m tired of not driving out to the city to take a pilates class I love because it takes away from my studying. I’m tired of feeling guilty for not spending enough time cleaning. I’m tired of missing my cats back home. I’m tired of being up at 3 AM because I can’t quiet down my thoughts.

I’m slightly annoyed it took this post to finally allow myself time to be vulnerable and cry. I feel so much better now…

I’m not perfect. I know I never will be, and as much as I expect perfection from myself it’s okay to not be the perfect student. I already made a plan on how I’m going to study for biostats to bring up my grade. I already included breaks to exercise and do fun things, like watch TV or hang out with friends. I’ll get through this semester just like I got through all the others and I will do my best to find a balance between studying and having fun.

My anxiety does not control me and it doesn’t define who I am or what I can do. It lies to me all the time about the kind of person/mother/wife/student I am all the time, but I’m not going to listen to it anymore. I have better things to do with my time that worry about things that won’t happen as long as I get things done. It’s time to stop worrying and start living.

I didn’t come up with the post title, by the way. I saw it somewhere else and it resonated with me. Thank you to person that came up with it; you’ll never knoe how much it’s helped me.

Andrea.

Pre-med

Beauty and the Grad School

Hello everyone!

Two weeks of grad school have flown by! I kept meaning to sit down and write this post but I’ve been slammed with work. It hasn’t been easy, but I love it so far. The subjects interest me and are things I can use in my practice, so no matter how difficult it is I just think about how lucky I am to have this wonderful opportunity.

Grad school is a beast! I feel like all I do is study, and when I don’t study I feel guilty! Add that to the guilt that my toddlers aren’t here with me yet and I’m a giant ball of guilt! We’re working things out still, but my husband is moving out here next weekend! It makes me incredibly happy, but I also feel bad because he will be driving across the country by himself. The plan was for me to fly back and drive with him, but when I mentioned it to one of my professors she become very concerned. She told me she would feel it was to my disadvantage to lose that much time studying. I am so incredibly thankful that our professors care so much; I wouldn’t have known I would’ve had no time until it was too late and we were on the road. On the first drive out we were tired, we listened to Harry Potter audio books, and we slept. Literally no time to study, especially since I get carsick when I read. I’m nervous about him driving by himself, but my husband is such an amazing person that he doesn’t care. He wants me to put my studies and my future career ahead of his comfort. I truly don’t know how I got so lucky. We’re hoping we can fly out our babies within a week or two of him arriving; we want to make sure we get all the furniture taken care of before they come out. As for my cute kitties, we’ll be bringing them out by February. We want to make sure we’re settled and find a good vet before we move them.

Back to grad school… My first quiz went okay, but I know I can do a lot better. I’m studying by myself and I’ve also made a weekend study group that I will be going to later today. I feel more confident about this quiz, so hopefully everything works out. I think my nerves got the best of me last time since I didn’t know what to expect.

My advisor also told me to submit my application to AACOMAS so it can be verified and put on hold until they get my December grades and my January MCAT score. Inhala, exhala. AAAAH I’M NOT READY TO APPLY! I want to do it so I can start medical school one year sooner than expected, if I get in, but I’m also incredibly nervous about it. Maybe I should wait until May to take the MCAT so I have more time to study and apply in June like I originally planned. I still haven’t started studying for the MCAT, but our MCAT prep course starts next month. Will I be ready? I just need to get out of my head and breathe… Everything will work out in the end, whether I wait or not.

That’s just a very small update. I will see how my quiz goes next time and I will write a post on how my study habits have changed since undergrad; hint- they’re completely different!

Okay, study break over! I’m off to study some Anatomy (my favorite subject!)

Wish me luck!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Studying for Anatomy and Physiology

Hello everyone!

I usually get questions from people asking me how I studied for Anatomy and Physiology, so I figured I would write them down here for anyone who might find it useful! Some of these will be similar to my O-Chem ones, and I will update this once I start grad school and change up my style. For now, this is what I did in undergrad!

1) Go to class. Still THE best way to learn. You see what your professor wants you to know and they may even give you hints of what they will have on the exams. You can also ask questions and get to know your professors, which will be good if you want to be a tutor for their class in future semesters.

2) Go over your notes. Your book may have a lot of info, but your professor may tell you things that aren’t in the book. When writing your notes, if your professor likes a topic a lot, make sure you highlight it so you know it will most likely be on the test. My physiology professor based her exams off of her PowerPoints, so the book was not helpful for her class. Again, go over your notes!

3) Go to lab. My school had a lab for both classes. Needless to say, it was important to go to every single one! For anatomy, my school was lucky enough to have cadavers. If you have a cadaver lab, GO TO OPEN LAB AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! We had our usual lab hours, three hours a week, and outside of that we had open lab where we could go study the cadavers and ask the lab instructors questions. My twins were 7 months old when I took anatomy, and I went every day. Sometimes I left lab when it was dark outside. It was difficult, but if I did it so can you! Anatomy is a beast, and you’re going to have to live and breathe it in order to do well unless you’re an anatomy genius, in which case I’m totally jealous!

4) Talk to the lab instructors. I was a lab instructor for Physiology and I don’t think I ever got questions. Most of my students were great and got A’s, but there were a few that should have gotten A’s if they had just asked me questions. I was always willing to help and I even gave out my phone number to helps my students, so if your instructor gives you their info, take advantage of it! Don’t call them at weird hours, but definitely message them if you are unsure about things. Most instructors are happy to teach and want to see you succeed!

5) Use anatomy apps. There are a lot of apps out there, but I used this one here. It was a work in progress when I took the class, but they had most of the systems up. I would use it any chance I got when I wasn’t in lab because I could click on a body part and turn it to see it from all angles. They also had quizzes built into it so you could test how well you knew the parts. It really helped when it came to learning all the muscles!

6) Use a coloring book. My professor added this on his list of materials for my anatomy class. It wasn’t required, but I felt like it helped me. I used erasable colored pencils and would test myself on the structures; I would color in the ones I knew and leave blank the ones I didn’t. Once I got through it, I would erase it all and start over whenever I needed.

7) Tutoring. Last but not least, tutoring. I went to as many SI sessions as I could for anatomy. It helped a lot to have someone else who had already gone through the class answer your questions and tell you what the professor loved to test on. They also had their old exams that they could show you so you could see how the professor would word their questions.

That’s it! I studied a lot those two semesters and it was difficult, but I made it through and so will you! If anyone has any other suggestions put them in the comments for others to see! I hope you’ve found this useful. Let me know if there’s another course you want study tips on and I’ll make a post on it. 🙂

As an update, orientation is on the 11th and I’ll be moving out of Utah next Thursday! I’m so excited and so nervous! I’ll make some posts later to let you know how grad school goes. 🙂

Wish me luck!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Good News Everyone!

Hi everyone,

As you know I applied to four post-bacc programs. I told you on my last post that I had gotten accepted into one program and how I was worried about how things would work out. Thankfully, I had almost nothing to worry about! I got accepted to all four programs I applied to! I cannot begin to tell you how excited and proud of myself I am; I never thought this is where I would be a few month ago, and definitely didn’t think about this when I started this blog four years ago!

So after much deliberation, and by that I mean just waiting for my top choice to accept me, I will be attending Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine pursuing a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences starting this Fall. The curriculum is a lot like first year medical school, so I’m incredibly excited and terrified! I’ve taken anatomy before, but never done the actual dissections! This will really help me once I’m in med school though, so I’ll figure it out. I can’t wait to make North Carolina our new home! Utah has been pretty good to us, but it’s time to leave! I’m sad to be leaving my friends and family, but I’m excited to get away from the snow! I have to be in North Carolina in exactly one month for orientation, so hopefully we can figure it all out by then. I still have to find housing!

The tricky part about this all is my husband’s work. He loves computers and has some experience coding. His job is letting him take their web development course so he can hone his skills and get a tech job through them. With everything he has to do and our limited timeline, I may have to move by myself until he’s done with the course and can transfer out there. We hope it won’t be too long, but I’m so excited and proud of him! This is basically his dream job and he has worked so hard for so long that he deserves to have a job he truly enjoys. Things are looking up for us!

We’re both on a path that will take us to where we want to be in life, and I’m so excited that we’ll be doing things we love while being able to provide a good life for our little boys, which are two now, by the way! Time flies when you’re having fun and working hard!

When I left Peru thirteen years ago, the ONE thing I KNEW I would NEVER be wasa doctor. My dad had drilled this into my head; I wasn’t good at math, so I could never be a doctor. I believed him and we joked about it all the time. And yet, here we are! Once I decided what I wanted to do, I worked hard and passed all my math classes; I even managed to get A’s in College Algebra and Trig. I kept going; I survived organic chemistry and physics, two of the hardest subjects I’ve taken so far. I was able to bring up my GPA enough to be a competitive applicant for post-bacc programs. Pinch me, because I must be dreaming! After a hospital stay, a difficult pregnancy, TWINS… I graduated, I brought up my GPA, I volunteered, I shadowed, I did research… and now I’m getting a Master’s?! How did I manage to do this? I honestly don’t know, but I did it! I’m one step closer to my goal!

I know sometimes we are our own worst enemies; I know I am! The thing is, it’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to freak out a little and wonder how you’ll get through that difficult project. It’s okay to vent to your friends about how much you hate Physics (me!) Just keep pushing forward, it will all work out in the end! If you need to take a different path for a while or if it takes you longer than most, that’s okay! You WILL get there one day if you keep working on it.

I can’t wait to see what life has in store for us. I know the next few years are going to be difficult, but I can’t wait to experience grad school and get through all those classes! I’m so excited to learn! Hopefully I’ll have some cool experiences to share with you all in the next few months! I’ll also be sharing what I used to study for anatomy in undergrad and what I’ll be using to study for it now, so stay tuned for that!

Fall can’t come fast enough!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Decisions

Hi everyone!

So I have some exciting news! I heard back from a post-bacc program! I’m so incredibly excited! However, I have some tough choices to make.

My husband’s job can’t transfer him where we would be going. I had checked with him for the other schools, but this one had completely slipped my mind. As luck would have it, he may be able to transfer within the company to a field that he wants to make a career out of, but they may require him to stay in the state. If it was just the teo of us we could probably make this work anyway, but as you know I have twin boys. This makes it more complicated because we can’t pack up and move without some sort of income, so if my husband has to stay in the area it will be a strain in our family.

So I’m sort of at a cross roads. The program is great and tied to a medical school, which is exactly what my advisor said I should do. However, it’s gotten down to choosing between my husband’s dream job/livelyhood and me furthering my education in hopes of getting into med school. My husband has gone as far as suggest that he should stay home with my boys and continue to work while I go to school across the country. This is not an ideal situation and one that neither of us wants… and honestly I’m not sure it’s worth it enough for me to leave my sons for a year. On the other hand, should I pass this up? Something I’ve worked really hard for that could improve my GPA and my chances of getting into med school?

For now, I haven’t heard back from the other three schools. My top choice may or may not have a completed application; I asked on Wednesday but have yet to receive a response. It’s one last letter of recommendation, and I keep reminding the person writing it to send it. All I can do is wait and hope someone else gets back to me so we can decide on the best option.

I’m really nervous for the future. Last week I was dying to get accepted anywhere… now I’m dreading having been accepted. I know things will work out in the end, but I guess I have to stress out about it first.

Anyway, just a little update. I have until June 30th to get back to the school and let them know if I accept their offer or not. I’ll let you know what happens and how this works out. Here’s hoping only good things come our way!

Andrea.