Pre-med

HPREP 2017

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.

Pre-med

Reflecting on the Past Year

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!

Pre-med

Gap Year?

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.

Pre-med

Upset

Hi everyone,

It’s almost the end of the semester! Today’s my last day of lecture, quizzes tomorrow, review the rest of the week, lab finals this week, lecture finals next week, and I’m free for the forseable future!

I can’t wait for summer, my trip to NC for a pre-med thing, and spending more time with my family.

So why is the title of this blog “Upset?” Remember how I applied to two graduate schools a little while ago? I haven’t heard back from either school yet. No phone call, no e-mail, nothing. So I went to check on the status of my application; I have only done it for one school so far, because I have to e-mail admissions from the second school to ask them about it.

Anyway, I go to check and my application is still under review. That’s fine, it will take a little bit of time for me to hear back. Well I kept reading… and my letters of recommendation haven’t been received yet. My heart dropped. My advisor was supposed to send them in at least two weeks ago. It doesn’t take two weeks for letters to arrive… I sent in my transcripts through the mail and they arrived within two days.

I sent my professor an e-mail over the weekend to ask him about it. No response. I’m only slightly freaking out… I didn’t realize how much I DIDN’T want a gap year. I love studying, I love learning, I love the stress… what will I do with a gap year? I have the MCAT to study for, of course, but that won’t help improve my GPA.

So I went through all these worst case scenarios in my head about how I wouldn’t get in anywhere. How if I didn’t improve my GPA I wouldn’t get into med school. Honestly, I’m still really worried about all this… But I never give up. I’m going to digress a little and talk about a speech I gave last week.

It was for this project called Mi Verdad, or My Truth. It was about the struggles/stories of Latino college students. I was lucky enough to be able to participate, and I learned a lot about my culture and myself. My theme was “Hard work,” because it’s taken a lot of it to come back from my low GPA and do relatively well in my classes. I might post my speech after finals so you can have a better idea of what I’m talking about. Anyway, I told the audience that you can do anything you set your mind to, that all you need is to put in the work and it will pay off. So how could I give a sort of inspirational speech and then not take in my own advice?

Back to the problem at hand. I’m scared of a lot of things, but I will not let my fear get the best of me. I will check the status of my application again, this time for both schools, and I will e-mail my advisor one last time to ask when he sent in those letters. I will annoy him if I have to, although I really don’t want to, because I consider myself a nice person. I will make sure my application is complete and wait for the schools to make their decisions.

If I don’t get in, I will be sad. However, I will know that I did everything I could and I will figure out the best way to improve my GPA if I have to take a gap year. I will find ways to strengthen my application, and I will apply to med school June 2018. I can and I will do this.

Wish me luck,

Andrea.

Pre-med

To Gap or Not to Gap…

Hi everyone,

I have some cool updates for you guys. I managed to get an A- and a B- on my last two O-Chem exams, so I’m well on my way to get a B in the class. If my professor drops out lowest test score, which depends on our next exam’s average, I could possibly end up with a B+! However, the lab is killing me; the lab questions aren’t very clear to me, but we’re not allowed to ask questions. This means I’m averaging a C+ on my lab reports. I’m really disappointed, but I’m going to work hard to bring that up to a B by doing well in the rest of the pre-labs, labs, and lab final. The lab is considered a separate class, so I really need to do well! As for Physics, I have an A in the lab and a B in the class; I’m really happy, because this is all counted as part of the class, so my final grade should be at least a B if I continue to do well.

That’s it for classes updates. Now, to talk about the title of this post… I’ve put off the MCAT yet again. I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to study for it the way the program I signed up for wanted, 30+ hours a week, while still doing well in my classes. I want to make sure I do well so I can’t afford to slack off. That being said, I will be signing up for a prep course in September and taking it in April or May. That means I’ll be applying to medical school next year and hopefully starting in 2019. It feels so far away, but I need to be able to do things well from now on.

So, to take a gap year or to not take a gap year? Right now, I’m leaning towards taking a gap year. I don’t have to take any other classes except maybe two suggested ones; I haven’t decided if I’ll be back next semester to take Genetics, but that’s probably the only class I would take. However… I dunno if I’ll be here next semester. I might move out of state! Why?

I applied to post-bacc programs! It’s only a few, and I’ll be learning about one that is brand new in my home state so I can apply there as well. I have submitted everything, and I’m just waiting for my professor to send in my letters of recommendation. I will be emailing my professor this weekend to ask if they’ve been sent out yet; one of the schools has a three-week deadline from the time you submit your application! That one is my top choice so I will be annoying my professor until he sends them.

I’m so excited and so nervous! I’m trying to be optimistic but honestly, I’m scared I won’t get in anywhere because I applied later than I wanted to. Just thinking about how great it will be for my medical school application makes me want it even more; I can improve my GPA significantly if I do well, which I know I can do. Honestly, I like school so much, that I think a gap year will bore me. I don’t take classes during the summer, and I get bored with nothing to do and no stress. I know how that sounds… I just like school. Last summer I did MCAT prep on my own and it was heaven. I felt so accomplished at the end of the day; study, work out, spend time with kids. It was perfect.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. So the plan is to take a gap year if I don’t get accepted into a post-bacc program. I really hope I do, because I don’t want to take a gap year, but I’ll make the best of whichever situation I’m in.

It’s times like this that I have to remind myself why I’m doing this. It feels like I keep putting it off, but I know I have good reasons and I’m still trying to improve while enjoying the stage I’m in. The path to medical school is anything but linear, at least for me. It might take me longer, but I will get there.

Fingers crossed!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Updates

Hi everyone,

I have some awesome news to share. I got an A- on my O-Chem exam! I followed the plan I outline in my last post and it helped so much! I’m really excited. My grade in class has gone up from a D+ to a C+, which is not a great grade but it’s something I can definitely improve on, especially because my professor drops our lowest exam score. Once he does at the end of the semester, my grade will be much better, since my lowest score so far was a 61. I’m going to continue studying so I can make sure my grade remains high.

Now comes the interesting part. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m signed up to take the MCAT on May 19th. I signed up two days ago for a prep course through Altius Test Prep. I’ve been reviewing content on my own since August on and off, but I knew I would need something more structure to prepare at some point. Finances are tricky though, so it took me longer to sign up than I was expecting.

I was excited and ready, until I looked at their introduction. I knew the course would be difficult, and I knew it would take time, but what scared me was how advanced their other students are compared to me. I’ll start a little over a month AFTER their short track students. Surprisingly, they say that they won’t accept students later than the beginning of February, but I was still allowed to join a group. I’m worried that I won’t be ready by May, and I thought about pushing back the MCAT for another month to have more time to prepare.

I kept reading what they gave me. The time commitment, the things that need to get done… and honestly, I panicked a little. I don’t think I can finish all of that in under three months. I’m seriously considering pushing the MCAT until next April. I won’t be taking classes so I would be able to concentrate on studying for it. However, that means I’ll have to postpone applying to medical school yet another year.

Honestly, postponing it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I could ensure I’m more competitive by having a strong MCAT. However, I would have to contact everyone that wrote my letters of recommendation and asking them to change the date on them, again. It’s been difficult to do that already, since some people are more cooperative than others. I’m still waiting on one for this year, and another one that should’ve been written by now but hasn’t. It’s discouraging. Additionally, I’ll lose a lot of volunteering, shadowing, and patient exposure hours. What I mean by this is that my advisor let me know that only extracurricular activities from the last four years will count. Since I’ve been pre-med for such a long time, a bulk of my hours came from 2013, which won’t count if I apply in 2017. I’ve been looking for info about this from the actual AAMC website but I couldn’t find anything about it, so it’s difficult for me to make a decision.

I’m going to wait a few days and think it over. I’ll wait until my tutor contacts me and I get a better idea of what this program will require. If I feel like it can be done, I’ll stick with it. Otherwise, I will get a refund and start the program in the Fall.

I’ll keep you guys posted. If anyone knows anything about the four year extracurricular cap I mentioned, please let me know! It would help me out a lot!

I do have another update that I’m afraid is the worst of them all. The hospice patient I’ve been visiting for the past year and a half passed away on Wednesday. I’m usually sad when my patients pass away, but I cried over this loss. He had become a good friend and I learned so much from him. He was an amazing person who will be sorely missed; he wrote a book about his life, which was really interesting, just so he could donate all the profits to charity.

RIP Walter. We will all miss you; from the happy “Hellooooo” you gave when you answered the phone and the “wunderbar” answer you gave when asked how you were doing. I will always remember you and the lessons you taught me about life. Thank you for everything.

Andrea.

Pre-med

Semester Struggles

Hi everyone,

Instead of sleeping I’m up writing this post. I’ve been struggling this semester, and it doesn’t feel good. I have a B- in Physics II, which is okay because my near perfect score in the lab should bring up my grade to a B. I know I can do better, so I will keep working hard and hopefully bring that up to a B+ by the end of the semester.

O-Chem II is a different story. I dunno what happened to me this semester, but I’m struggling. I keep changing my studying strategies to see if it helps, but I keep making silly mistakes because I don’t myself anymore. I have a D+ in the class and a B- in the lab, but for some reason they are separate classes so it will not improve my grade. I can’t afford a bad grade since my GPA isn’t great and I’m on my post-bacc years.

So I’ve been pretty down, trying to figure out if I should withdraw and postpone medical school for another year. Since I would get a W if I withdrew today or March 28th, I figured I should wait and try to improve before the deadline before making a decision. If I’m able to get near perfect scores from now on, I could pull off at least a B, so it’s not impossible.

I’m trying to believe in my abilities but honestly I’ve been pretty down. It seems like such a trivial thing to be upset about, but I take pride in knowing I can do well in difficult classes. I didn’t use to be this way; growing up I didn’t care about school and didn’t do well. It took me moving to the state to learn about well, learning. So when I don’t do well it takes me back to those years, and my self-esteem plummets.

That being said, even though I’ve been feeling down, I will continue to keep going. I’m not a quitter, and I know I’ll regret not trying more than failing. So here’s to keeping on, even when we feel like we won’t make it, because quitting is never an option.

So here’s one new thing I’m doing starting tomorrow (today?) I’m volunteering at the hospital I delivered my boys at! I’ll be helping out in the Cardio-thoracic unit by keeping patients company. I’m a little nervous since it’s my first day, but I’m excited to be doing something in a hospital setting! Wish me luck, I hope it’ll be a good day tomorrow!

I’ll also be participating in this thing called Brain Awareness Week in March. Our school does it every spring break and it’ll be my first year volunteering. We basically go to schools and talk about the brain to get more kids interested in neuroscience. I love the brain, so the neuro minor in me is happy to be doing this. I’ll try to write a post about it after it spring break; maybe I can get some cool pictures of brains. 🙂

MCAT prep is going better than last semester, but I’m feeling a bit burned out. I basically wake up and study until I go to bed, with a few breaks in between to play with my boys and eat. I’m hoping to sign up for a prep class soon, but until then I’ve been doing content review by using books and watching YouTube videos. I’ve taken two half-length practice tests, and even though my scores are horrid, I still improved by about 10 points in a month. I’m sure after I’ve finished the semester and finished reviewing that I will do even better.

I hope my next update will bring good news from an improved MCAT score and improved O-Chem grade. I really don’t want to put off applying to med school another year, but I will make it work if I have to. Time will pass anyway, right?

Good night (morning?) I hope you’re all doing well. 🙂

Andrea.

Pre-med

New Year and Almost Done!

Hello everyone!

I really need to write more often…

Today is the first day of my hopefully last semester of pre-med requirements! I’m finishing up O-Chem II and Physics II. I’m excited, but also nervous, because I take the MCAT in May and I apply in June!

So first things firsts, I finished last semester strong! I got an A- in O-Chem and a B in Physics! Physics was a struggle, so I’m so thankful I was able to bring up my grade. I have a different professor this semester so I’m hoping it will go better than last semester. As for O-Chem, I really surprised myself! I didn’t study nearly hard as I did when I first took the class 2.5 years ago. I just studied differently…

I figured I would share how I did it in case any of you are curious. First of all, Leah4Sci’s videos on reactions were amazing. They helped me remember everything while consolidating my knowledge of the reactions mechanisms. I’m so thankful I discovered her site! I also completely ignored my textbook this semester… I just went over my notes, re-wrote them sometimes, and went to SI (supplemental instruction) instead. I think it helped a lot more than my book, since going through every single page didn’t help at all last time. Finally, a friend of mine and I had study group on Saturdays so we could go over things we were not sure about and teach each other. She did well in the class too, so I think our little study sessions help a lot. I definitely recommend making a study group for this class; the more you teach, the better you learn!

So, MCAT prep. I’m hoping to sign up for a prep course within the next month. While I wait to sign up, I’ve been using Kaplan books to study. I just finished the behavioral science review today, and I started the Physics one. I’m excited to be done with a section, but I’m going to pick Saturdays as my review of previous subject days. What I mean is that I’m going to re-write the main points from the chapters on a separate notebook and read over it on Saturdays rather than study “new” material. I’ve also designated 4:10-6:50 Am as study time; I’m not sure how well this will go, but I’m hoping it’ll work. I just want to get it out of the way early so I’m not making excuses once my sons go to bed and I’m too tired to do anything. This means I’ll be going to bed by 8… I’m not excited, but I have to make this work somehow!

Oh, I also took a 2.5 hour long MCAT practice test from Kaplan. It was my first one, and I tried to do it quickly so I could pretend I was running out of time like I’m sure will happen on the actual MCAT. I did horrible. It honestly killed my confidence… I learned a lot from it though, so I’m excited to keep studying and improving. My lowest section was the Physics/Chem section, which doesn’t surprise me since I still haven’t taken the second half of Physics and O-Chem, and I took Gen Chem like three years ago. Definitely my toughest section, so it’s probably what I’ll spend the most time studying. My best section was the CARS section, which surprised me. I’m happy about it, and I know I can keep improving, so I’m excited to take another practice test and see where I’m at. My second best section was the Behavioral Science, which I was happy about since Psychology was my major. Biology was kind of in the middle, but I’m not worried about bringing that up. I think the biggest thing with the MCAT is understanding how the test is given. Once you sort of understand how they test you, and you review all the content, you get an idea of how to apply that content to answer the questions.

As far as my personal life goes, if any of you care ha ha, things are going well. My twins are almost two years old and my husband is working to become a stock broker. Life seems to be taking us in a good direction, and I hope it continues. I’m still volunteering at hospice, I volunteered at a school last semester, and I’m going to an interview tomorrow to volunteer at the hospital where I lived for 7 weeks delivered my twins. I’m also looking for a D.O. to shadow, so that will be interesting.

I’m on track to apply to med school with my GPA being the only thing holding me back, so I’m not going to lie that I’m pretty scared, but also pretty sure, that I’ll get rejected. I’m still thinking about applying to post-bacc programs, but studying for the MCAT is taking up all of my time so GRE prep is not really a priority for me right now. I might apply to a few that don’t require it, and if I don’t get accepted I might apply in the Spring when I have my MCAT score. If things work out I’ll start med school in the next two-three years. Fingers crossed. ❤

So that’s it! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season and are ready for this new year. I definitely am!

Cheers!

Andrea.

Pre-med

Latest Semester

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I keep thinking about what to write but never have enough motivation. I’ve been feeling kinda down this semester; it’s been a very difficult one. Finals are coming up and I’m getting nervous.

My Cell Biology course is going horribly. I haven’t done this poorly in a class in years. I feel like I know the subject, but I hesitate at the last minute and change my answer. Since my professor has the multiple choice section be worth three points per question, missing a few really messes up your grade. The lab isn’t any easier; we have a different instructor for it. She’s notorious for being a harsh grader. We do these literature labs where we read a scientific paper she chooses and then we have to summarize it based on one of the figures. She expects us to write at a PhD level to get full points and makes the average for the class be a B-. Needless to say, I don’t do very well in these. It makes me incredibly mad at me. I know I can do better, but I don’t understand what she wants. I dunno if maybe it’s a language thing; I’ve lived in this country for almost 12 years and although I hardly ever have trouble with it, scientific papers take me a while to comprehend. She’s also extremely intelligent so the way she words her questions during quizzes confuses me sometimes. This is no excuse for me doing so poorly, I should be able to study more and do better. If I can get a C in the class, it’ll be a miracle.

Anatomy is going okay. I should end with a B in the class if everything continues to go the way it is. It makes me a little sad because I really wanted an A, but since I can’t live in the cadaver lab due to needing to be home and care for my boys, I think it’s an okay grade. I didn’t do so well on my last exam so my class grade dropped to a C+, but we still have the lab grade to consider and two more exams for lecture. I plan on talking to my professor about the questions I missed so I can do better on the cumulitative final. I really love the class though, and the cadaver lab is extremely cool. I have loves everything we have learned about and I will be forever grateful for those who donate their body to science so we may learn it and help others. My instructor for lecture used to be a surgeon, so he always has interesting stories to tell. He also cracks jokes all the time which makes the class even more enjoyable.

My Research Methods class is okay too. I have a B currently and my research project is under way. Unfortunately I had to change it at the last minute, so I’m not doing anything related to sign language like I wanted to. I also realized there may be a mistake in the data collection so I may not have any valid data to analyze. This really bums me out because I have to do a final paper and presentation on it before the end of the semester… which is about 3 weeks away. I have to talk to my professor about it and see what we can do.

Oh and I dropped Biochem because I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved.

Lastly, I signed up for the MCAT for May 14th. I’m taking the rest of my pre-med classes next semester; Biochem I, O-Chem II, and Physics II. However, I’m unsure about the professors. I’ve taken a class from one of them before and her teaching style and my learning style didn’t match. The other professor is known for not being a great one… most students just skip the class until they can take it from the only other professor that teaches it. Since I’m graduating soon, I don’t have that option unless I drop a class, which is the one with the other professor I’m unsure about.

I was planning on graduating, taking the MCAT, and applying to a post-bac program that focuses on academic enhancement. However, because of how difficult it is to study and take care of my little ones, and because of the professors I’ll have to take classes from, I think I may put off the MCAT another year. I may drop those classes, take maybe one with a few “easier” ones to help keep up my GPA, and apply to a post-bac that focuses on career-changers since I have a major in Psychology instead of a “science” one. I can take the rest of my classes then, take an extra two years, take the MCAT somewhere along the line, and make sure my husband has his degree so he can support us/work from home so I don’t have to worry about my twins being home without one of us. I have to run it by my advisor before I make my final decision, but it seems at this point in time it’s the right one.

I think this will calm me down, give my time to boost my GPA, spent time with my twins, study for the MCAT, finish my pre-med classes, and give me a bit of my sanity. School will always be there. Who cares if I’m 40 before I can practice, right?

Right?

Wish me luck.

Andrea.

Physician Shadowing

Physician Shadowing III

Hi everyone!

So here’s my post about my latest shadowing experience. We’ll call this doctor Dr. I for privacy purposes. 🙂

This happened over a two day period. Dr. I was in her last week of residency when I shadowed her, so I got to see her last day and how she said goodbye to all her patients. It was a bittersweet moment for everyone, including myself since she had been such a big part of my hospital experience. Every doctor I’ve met has been fantastic and I wish to be like them in some way, but if I can be as caring and helpful to my patients like like Dr. I is I will be happy with the level of care I provide. Dr. I, if you ever read this, which I doubt, thank you for everything. 🙂

Okay, so on to the actual experience! I did about 11 hours worth of shadowing. Since she is a resident I can’t count it as accrual shadowing experience, so it will go on my application as patient exposure.

One of the patients we had had shingles. She knew what she had since it was her second time having it. We were in and put within minutes, which doesn’t harken very often when I shadow.

The second patient was a child who had persistent cough, about a month if I remember correctly. Dr. I let the parents know coughing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that it’s just a reflex. She thought it was likely due to allergies. After a while of trying to convince the mum odd this, we moved on. We then talked about how she was almost certain that the parent wouldn’t listen to her instructions because she felt the parent didn’t trust her diagnosis. She then told me only about 60% of patients actually do what doctors tell them, so all you can do is reassure them and hope they’ll listen.

We also had a patient who had chronic pain and had come in because she had fallen and hit her head. Dr. I isn’t a fan of narcotics (neither am I) so it was a big hard to deal with. On the one hand you want the patient to be comfortable, but these drugs are dangerous. Your tolerance for them increase, but the toxicity curve doesn’t move. The more you take them, the more meds it takes to help your pain… and the closer you get to that curve. I found a diagram for it here Dose-Response Curve. In the end Dr. I let the patient know she was taking too many and that she wanted her to wean off of them a little bit.

I also saw a few cases of cellulitis! I’d never seen it before so it was really cool. Cellulitis is an infection of the soft tissue, that presents as a red area that is hot and swollen; more info here. Dr. I prescribed medication for it and also outlined the red area so the patient could see if it spread further or if it was receding (and the medicine was helping). After we saw the first patient with it Dr. I and I went back to her office so she could show me another case of cellulitis… in her cat! It was awesome! It’s always interesting to see what disease we share with other species!

At one point we had a patient who came in because she was experiencing some abdominal pain. While she examined the patient she poked the areas that hurt and then asked her to do sort of a sit up before poking those places again. The patient tensed up and Dr. I concluded her exam. I later asked her what she was feeling for and she said she was looking for masses, tenderness (lower or upper), guarding (which is the tensing up), and peritonitis. The guarding is important; when the patient tenses up, the muscles are protecting the organs. If the problem was internal, the patient wouldn’t feel pain when doing the sit up. However, since the pain was superficial, Dr. I discovered her pain was muscular. I think that was one of my favorite things to learn about that day. The patient also had a hernia, so I asked Dr. I what you do about those. She told me that the bigger the hernia, the less they worry about! She said it’s big enough for the bowel and blood vessels to go through it, so it gets some blood flow.

I asked Dr. I why she went into family  practice. She said she went into med school wanting to be a neonatologist, but she later realized it was too specialized. She then thought about peds, then OB/GYN. However, she realized that after you cut the cord, that baby isn’t your patient anymore. She also said she wouldn’t like to do it every day; she loves it, but she wouldn’t love it if that’s all she did. She then chose family practice so she could do all of those things. She likes the variety. She is also doing a fellowship in OB so she can keep doing C-sections, which satisfy her liking for surgery without needing to be in an OR longer than an hour.

I also asked her if she could fire patients as a resident and she said you could. They are usually due to the clinic policy, like for no-shows, but that she doesn’t do it very often.

I also wanted to know what her stand on patients who didn’t vaccinate was. This was the most insightful conversation we had, so I’m glad I asked. She said that if you ban them from your practice you don’t get the chance to talk to them and ease their fears. If they are comfortable with you and respect your opinion as a doctor, they might change their minds later on. She so said you don’t want all the crazies in one room (aka all the anti-vaxers in one physician’s office). That comment made me laugh. 🙂 The other side of that argument is, if they don’t trust you on something that science indicates is effective, why would they listen to you when you say something else? If later on they need antibiotics, will they listen to you and take them? Or would they be against that too? At that point you have to ask the patient if you two are a good fit and perhaps have the patient find another doctor.

I also got a chance to shadow another resident while Dr. I waited for more patients to come in. It was a 6 month old baby and she came in for a well check. Dr. C let me look through one of the instruments (I’m afraid I don’t know the name of) and look at the red-eye reflex. It was so cool! You basically look for that red-eye that shows up in pictures. If it appears red-ish it means the eyes are healthy. If they’re not, they’ll present as white, which could indicate a tumor.

The second day was similar. There was a patient with no insurance who needed a colonoscopy; he would have bowel moments but blood would be the only thing that would be passed. He had had this problem for six years. It was upsetting because the procedure was so expensive without insurance that Dr. I was almost positive he wouldn’t get it done, which is the reason he didn’t do it three years ago. Dr. I set him up with the financial assistance department and said all we could do is hope for the best. He did have hemorrhoids so she treated him for those and gave him a stool softener so they wouldn’t get worse.

At one point we had a patient who had to decide if physical therapy or surgery was the right course of action. He decided that he would like to try physical therapy first since he didn’t like surgery, and Dr. I agreed with him. She said that sometimes spinal surgeries don’t completely fix the problem and they can lead to even more surgeries. That was another interesting thing I learned about that I probably never would have thought to ask!

We also had a child come in due to cellulitis on his toe. It had been going on for a while and the mum was putting neosporin on it constantly. Turns out that the neosporin was what was causing it since the child had developed an allergy to it. Dr. I’s attending explained to the patient’s mum that neosporin had an ingredient that when used too often leads to allergic reactions; she needed to stop using it in order for his toe to get better!

The last thing I asked Dr. I was what she wished she knew before starting residency. She told me that medicine felt a lot with business (insurance, marketing yourself to the patient so they would continue to see you, etc.) and that she wished she had taken a course on business management during college. She also said if you wanted to travel (with my kids) that I have to do it before med school; you don’t have time after that. You can wait until you graduate but you can’t take off to much time since your patients need you and they don’t want a doctor who will be gone 6 months. It was good advice, but I did tell her I was already 24 and I probably wouldn’t do it since I felt I had already lost enough time not knowing what I wanted to do.

In the end she set me up with another doctor so I can shadow him this summer. I gave her a thank you card but also told her how thankful I was for everything she’d done for me (since it wouldn’t fit in the card). She hugged me like 5 times and told me that although she’d be on the other side of the country to call her with any questions about med school and my application. She was very sweet about it and even told me she thought admission committees would love me and that I’d be accepted.

It was a great experience. I’m very lucky I was able to meet such a caring and ambitious doctor. If I can be half the doctor she is I would be happy.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found this post insightful and interesting. 🙂 I’ll be getting in touch with the doctor Dr. I set me up to shadow some more, so I’ll let you all know how that goes.

Wish me luck!

Andrea.