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1. You’ll never have time for anything else but studying.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be periods in your medical school career where it’s not reasonable to do more (studying for exams, boards, 3rd year), but so far everyone I’ve talked to at my program still has a life and are getting things done with their education. People in my class run half marathons and other random events, go to theatre, coach soccer, married and some have children. For myself, I still have time to schedule in events (saw Atul Gawande speak last week) and crank out a post or two, go out for walks around the park etc.
Though, medical school was giving me a good stomping at the beginning with the course load (had 4.5 courses at the beginning plus out patient clinic hours) you eventually learn how “you” can get on with it, and well you just get on with it. This isn’t to say medical school is easy either, it’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted, but it’s certainly doable without ruining your personal life. Some parts of medical school are difficult because of the conceptual parts, but
some most of it is just knowing when you have to brute force learn concepts in order to make the conceptual part intelligible — and you have to learn to find the balance between it all and your time.
2. Medical school is full of gunners, waiting to slash your brake lines so you don’t make it to the final on time…or at all and will ruin your life.
Whereas, some people adopt a definition of the person who wants to be “the best”, I believe a gunner is someone who while trying to be “the best” while hoping everyone else is beneath them is rubbish. If there is anyone in our class like that, they’re doing a stellar job at hiding it. Usually, people post/share their own study guides and charts, or useful links for the whole class to see. There are study group cliches, but it’s pretty easy to get invited, make, or to crash any study group you see. Maybe different programs will have different experiences, but most of my friends at other medical schools feel the same way about their class in general. The gunner talk is a sticky subject, by definition being the best means you’re better, but in a team (medicine) being the best individual is less important than the team being at it’s best. Wanting to be at your best, that is being better than you were before, is what I think most medical students strive to.
If anything, I feel people were a lot more Lord of the Flies tribal in undergrad than now in medical school.
3. You’ll never use that premed stuff in medical school.
You’ll never sit down and calculated a long winded titration problem again, that much is true. Nor will you try to figure out the coefficient of friction between the IV lines and the hospital bed pulling the line tout. No, you won’t sit down and calculate how many ATP and FAD molecules will result from burning 90 grams of sucrose, nor will you ever be asked again to show the conjugation on retinol. But, it’s tacitly expected that you could understand the concepts (or main ideas) in all of your first year of medical school and into the future. I don’t need to write out each molecule’s Lewis structure in metabolism, but understanding Lewis structures and organic chemistry make the information easier to digest conceptually while I brute force memorize steps. You’ll definitely never be as detailed orientated with the steps, but you need to have a broad understanding — it’s all about the basics. Le Chateau still comes back as the Bohr Effect in blood as does ferromagnetism when talking about oxygen carrying ability of heme. You’ll never really strip away the science from life, because life is science in action.
So, to pay homage to all of those hard working premeds: all of your hard work is for not. But, don’t worry if you’re admitted into medical school you likely have the skills and dedication to finish it even if you have an eternal hate for the prerequisites. In fact, most of the things you’ll need to be a good doctor will likely be much later in medical school and into residency. So, on one hand in the scale won’t play out day to day in our futures — no one calculates the amount of joules imparted into the cyclist who was struck by a trunk in trauma, but understanding the concepts makes it easier to explain to the cyclist he’s lucky to be alive because doubling his speed quadrupled the punishment on his tattered body as raced down the hill. If anything, your understanding of science will always carry you on the concepts and being able to explain things to others effectively (assuming you also have communication skills).
With that said, back to studying for me (see the first myth).
I’ve been browsing the search terms people use to find my blog, and I decided to answer some common questions that seem to come up through people’s search or stuff people ask me a lot. This will be a quick rapid fire Q & A, this time I’ll focus on the MCAT. Though bear in mind the scoring system and the subjects will be changed on the new MCAT, in general the test represents the same idea i.e. part of your application to enter medical school:
1. [Is there a difference] between the AAMC practice tests vs the real MCAT?
Yes and no, but mostly no. The AAMC practice tests are representative of what you should expect on the MCAT. If you’ve taken enough practice AAMC tests you’ve probably noticed there’s some relative variability in perceived difficulty — some tests you’ll think are easy, some you’ll think are less so. In general, the core material doesn’t change much, instead it’s how they ask you that may stump you on a particular test. For myself, while self studying my practice scores varied in the last month from 32-36 and I was averaging about a 33 on practice exams (my first practice score was about a 22). But, I ended up with a 30P on the real exam which I suppose isn’t that bad considering how bad my personal life was on test week (family issues) and the night before the exam was. The key to these practice tests is to establish a range, and know that you may either score within that range or about 2-points below it. Why 2-points? Well, that’s within the confidence interval stated by the AAMC, if you score a 29 then a 27 or a 31 were in your range in theory. I can’t promise you that every school is open to the AAMC interpretation of scores, but that’s actually why the new MCAT is coming out with a new scale to further enforce this point and make it easier to interpret. This may also be why applicants who underperformed on their MCAT with a 28 or so are surprised to find that the bulk of their interview (if invited) isn’t spent on defending their MCAT score, this is probably especially true if everything else in the applicants file suggests they could have done better.
The biggest difference however will be in how anxious you feel about the exam, or at least it was that way for me. The good news it’s a good feeling to think that with each question you attempt the closer you potentially are to not seeing the MCAT ever again (hopefully).
2. Is it bad to take a MCAT practice test twice?
There are two skills you pick up while studying for the MCAT:
- 2.1. Getting better at the content on the MCAT
- 2.2 Getting better at taking the MCAT
You’ll definitely get the most value the first time you take the test to see how well you know the content. However, reviewing your past exams is part of the process of getting better at taking the MCAT. The first pass through the test is the easiest, you just take the test and do your best. But, reviewing the exam is a skill all in itself. For that part you want to ask yourself the following questions:
A. Why did I get this question wrong, or why am I getting these types of questions wrong? — separate the material into: 1) I had no idea how to even approach it, 2) I sort of knew it, and 3) I should of gotten it but misread etc. The last one, 3, is the easiest to fix as you just need to start annotating things better to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The first part, 1, is probably the most time consuming as you’d likely need to do a targeted content review on that subject (or that subject’s foundation). The middle one, 2, is the trickiest because it’s easy to fall into false comfort of classifying things as “I sort of knew it” and not dedicated enough time to these issues. In other words, you either know it (3) or you didn’t (1,2).
B. If I got this question right, was there another way to arrive to the same answer? — knowing alternative ways to answer a question is not only good conceptually, it may save you on the next exam. For example, if you’re given the answer choice of:
a. 9.21 E-23
b. 4.21 E-26
c 9.21 E-18
d. 4.21 E-34
You might have arrived to the right answer, let’s say it’s C, by crunching the numbers. But, likely in these types of math problems you could have arrived to the same answer by just evaluating the powers without doing any of the math that made the 9.21 part. This is because as long as you do the powers correctly, the max you can be off without fully evaluating the problem is by a factor of 10 (i.e. you’ll either come up with E-17 or E-19). So, sure, if you had answers within a factor of 10 you’d then need to do more math, but in this case you likely wouldn’t and it ends up being a very quick calculation.
C. Make a plan of how to NOT miss these types of problems again, though except for discrete questions never expect to see the duplicate permutation of the same question again.
3. Are there miracles on the MCAT?
Probably not, in fact you should expect just the opposite. This is why you need to practice and attempt to overshoot during practice because on the real test, for various reasons, it may not go so well. One person I interviewed with told me on their test day there was obnoxious construction going on across the street, another talked of an equally annoying fellow test taker, mine had a character that apparently was into keyboard S&M. Though, I do know a person who felt the test they received was everything they happened to be strong at, and she did better than any of her practice exams. However, realistically don’t expect a match made in heaven for your exam.
The biggest mistake you can make on the MCAT is expecting a miracle, you’ll probably score somewhere around your practice scores — maybe you’ll do a little better, maybe you’ll do a little worse. The practice tests aren’t trying to scare you into studying, if you find the practice AAMC impossibly difficult then there are no miracles to be had on test day.
Applying to medical school is confusing and understandably unfamiliar process, this is where hopefully this blog and your mentors with first hand experience come into play. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have a mentor lying around at their disposal. I recently joined the ranks of Student Mentor Network, an advising service created by medical students to help soothe the fierce impact of applications on premeds. As some of you already may know, I was editing and critiquing student’s personal statements (and some secondaries) pro bono this year. Last year I offered to edit/critique medical school personal statements and about 6 people opted in. This year I worked with about 40 people (and a few last year), each person was given three edits maximum, and it worked out fairly well. A large bulk went onto apply to medical school and a fair chunk (statistically speaking) are now interviewing this season. The unfortunate part is that it’s not realistic that I can read over 100 renditions of personal statements while in medical school, not to say it wasn’t enjoyable to see the papers mature — in fact, I asked one applicant to write a guest post after their interview dust settles. After this last wave was over and I started medical school I was certain it wasn’t realistic to keep pumping out edits. After apologizing to future applicants, I asked a few people on Twitter who follow my blog how to make the process more sustainable both for myself and those who wanted to submit. Some suggested I charge with a sliding scale, do crowd sourcing, or other types of creative things.
I procrastinated on a solution for several months as I languished at the thought of charging those who couldn’t afford to apply to medical school never mind another fee stacked onto their plate. A timely email fell into my email box from Student Mentor Network asking if I were interested in acting as a mentor, after I scoped out the site for a bit I noticed the rates were comparatively lower as most advising services charge a few hundred hourly whereas their site ranged from ~$30-$45 per hour. This is not to detract from all services, some services are worth every penny despite being expensive, especially compared to the cost of re-applying. I was intrigued, but being my usual skeptical self, I was not completely won over. So, I exchanged numbers with the owner of the company and we agreed to talk over the phone about the concept. On a weekend between tests we found time to talk, and he explained how he was initially rejected by all schools he applied to despite having competitive stats. He described this experience as eye-opening, learned “how to apply to medical school”, and was subsequently accepted into Johns Hopkins. We both agreed that the medical school application process is rather daunting, what some perceive to be mysterious. Though, once you understand the process it’s rather intelligible, the problem is most people only gain an understanding of the proper way to apply after they’ve already been rejected after a cycle and have forfeited several thousand to application process. So, the setup of Student Mentor Network is that you only receive advising from medical students (those who know what the current application ecosystem is because they just went through it).
So, my plan on how to handle editing/critiquing personal statements will be different from my previous rounds. This year, I will still take some personal statements (with three edits) for free, first come first critiqued. I’ll give priority to those who follow my blog and/or Twitter account. But, this year and from now on I’ll have to cap the number of essays I review depending on my predicated schedule — this next cycle, I’m shooting for 15 people for free and this may expand in the summer. I’ll also still respond to quick questions or lengthy emails as usual, regardless. The rest, or people who want more help can rent my undivided attention per hour via Student Mentor Network. There, we can talk about anything:
- Personal statements
- Building a resume (CV)
- Taking a gap year
- Obtaining letters of recommendation
But really, I encourage you to try to align yourself with a mentor that fits you, maybe I’m not the fit for you. Even if it’s not me you decide on, I’d suggest considering using this website because investing less than 50 bucks is a lot cheaper than finding out you made a fatal mistake upon applying the first time without empirical based advice.
You can find me under Deandre K.
No new material to stuff into my brain, that is what weekends mean to me now. Yes, this still means I study on the weekend; but instead of studying while being swamped with new information, on the weekends I can finally come up for air because there is no new material being added to my “study list”. But, medical school isn’t all work and no play, today I went to an 3D printing fair at MIT. I saw a couple of cool things while I was there, I found a few objects crafted from the 3D printers and decided to make a display for your viewing pleasure:
But, the weekend doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off either, most because I can’t afford to. I spend less time studying on the weekends than during the weekday, except a week or two before the exams. On average though, I spend about 6 hours a day studying during the weekday and 4-6 hours on the weekends. Typically, Friday is making a game plan for the weekend, the weekday is surviving getting hosed by new material. Getting into medical school is analogous of thinking you’ve just climbed Mount Everest, but you find out quickly once you start medical school you’ve only reached the first base camp; and not only that but the mountain is growing each day. Those hours of studying also don’t account for the time spent watching and attending lectures. All in all though, I say things are working out for most of our class — we’ve only had one person drop out of the program thus far (they decided they would follow other goals). For myself, I’m doing what I can do to not only learn the material but to also get better at getting the material to “stick”. After all, studying endlessly sounds noble but it’s not that efficient, and time management is the name of the game now.
The trouble with the first year is really figuring out how to retain information efficiently, this will be easier or more difficult depending on your classes. We are the last year to not have systems based learning, and we are doing the traditional format, so we have seemingly disparate courses that somehow weave together as you slowly gain epiphanies by endlessly working on your general base of knowledge. I’m not sure if the more archaic way is for everyone, but it’s pumped out exceptional doctors those far so I’m okay with it (power to you systems based people!). With that said, each course here takes a different approach to how I should study. For anatomy, it’s mostly change into those dingy scrubs and spend more time with my donor — it’s faster then trying to imagine what it should look like. Sometimes, I prefer a library or coffee shop over than dissection lab, go figure, and at those times I use a combination of Netters (illustrated gross anatomy), Color Atlas of Anatomy, and now like everyone else in my class 1 mm axial cross sections of cadavers. Netters is very good for seeing the ideal form of how things should be because everything is rendered. The Color Atlas of Anatomy is a book full of prepared cadavers, so you’ll see the more visceral things you should see in real life. But, when I don’t have those at my disposal, or want a break from that type of studying I try to draw or make diagrams:
When I need to understand minute differences, I’ve always find that drawing made me spend more time conceptualizing the object that I’m sketching. So, this is how I studied the heart, and made a lot more sense after one drawing without looking at the real image. Another thing I used drawing for was the lungs, to capture the differences in relationship between the pulmonary arteries and the bronchi. Though, I still need to study a lot of things more to become more confident in my answers:
Sometimes, watching videos on Youtube and using Anki cards are the way to go for learning things I need to both memorize quickly and understand — tonight it’s cardiac embryology. About Anki cards, I’ve found that just taking notes almost straight onto Anki cards is more efficient then having to make them later. I’ve also try to make a variation of primary to secondary type questions for some of the content I understand less, for me, it’s important to spend more time with material that I don’t like and keep up with stuff I’m okay on to keep on schedule.
For some classes, you just need to discuss it aloud and you’ll understand things more. For example, if you’re having problems conceptualizing an ethical question or law, some times a conversation is a lot more effective than flash cards. The only important thing, for myself at least, is to have a decent foundation. That’s a fancy euphemism for memorizing a plethora of nouns and simple ideas. After I have those things, I can hopefully both understand the language of my classes and build a higher performance level of understanding from my foundation of memorized knowledge. I’m not saying this is the most ideal way to study, in fact, I’m sure others study differentially in my class and probably get scores and maybe with less effort. But, for me it’s how I pick up things besides reading it.
Medical school is very interesting in that there’s a lot of ways to get it done, even though everyone takes essentially the same courses — and you’ll be astonished at how each person in your class who makes it will work hard to make things work. And now, my study break is over, and I must go back to my studying. Good luck if you’re interviewing for medical school, I’ll see a fresh batch of applicants on Monday as usual, I’ll be sure to try to calm any nervous one I see — for me it’s back to work!
Fall here is in Boston and it’s interview season for premeds, I know because I see a calvary of anxious students awaiting their interview in the lobby of my school; coincidentally I camp out in that same lobby because I (and other medical students) know you guys never finish the food ordered by the school because you don’t want to look like glutens during the interview day — we empathize with you, but thanks for the free grub. It’s been a somewhat busy time for most medical students as well: most M1s across the countries just had their first exams, M2s across the nation are very happy they are no longer M1s and the boards are still far away, M3s have disappeared off the face of the planet into an alternate universe, and M4s are stressing out for both positive and negatives reasons, their match applications and their match applications respectively.
Here’s how I’ve filled my last few weeks:
- First Testing Block Complete: Gross Anatomy, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Public Health/Heath Law (hybrid), Human Behavior in Medicine
I’m on a traditional schedule, so our tests were jam-packed together, so from a Monday, we had a test every other day (3 tests) and the final test after “test week” weekend on the following Monday. Before that, we had a experimental Histology quiz, this will come back as a full class in the spring. Somehow, I’ve survived thus far, though I’ll definitely made some adjustments now that I know how the tests work. I don’t have any general advice, because I’m just trying to survive the zombie apocalypse here, but in general when you’re in my boat make sure to find what works for you as quickly as possible and be open to change and never fall behind more than a lecture or two in material.
Gross Anatomy is pretty cool, but impressively difficult as you try to remember the name and embryology relationship, vasculature and innervation of muscles, organs, and bones (and the imaginary spaces and lines concocted by anatomist). There’s a laboratory portion of the course and lecture, each weighted 45% of your grade (both making 90%) and the rest comes from a 10% dissection grade. Today we took out the visceral organs while leaving the kidneys in place, we’ve already taken out the contents of the thoracic cavity (heart and lungs) — we take great care to keep the organs with the body, as well as the tissue we must strip off, because at the end the donors will be cremated and their ashes will be given to their family. There’s a practicum and written test for Anatomy: for the practicum you just go about a room identifying pinned structures or their functions for a minuter per question, and for the written you take some medical anatomy tests with questions like :
“Steve was drunk at 3 AM, with his friends on his birthday. He had too much to drink and fell asleep standing up all while suspending himself on a railing at his right armpit. Steve wakes up at 5 AM, after taking a cab home he’s now sober he rushes to change clothes. While changing his short, he realized that he has a difficult time extending his right elbow and feels slight weakness when opening his right hand. Worried, he rushes to the hospital, after examination he’s discharged and told not to worry and an appointment for his PCP was made. What nerve roots would innervate this nerve that he likely impinged?”
On a high note, we also learned the age/occupation/cause of death of our donor, it was nice to get to know them — I think I would have loved my donor when they were alive. For their privacy, I’m afraid I can’t say much more about this. However, I’m happy they waited to reveal this information to us, they’ve been really systemic about allowing the experience sink in as we try to retain the innocence we had before we started this process ourselves. It’s easy to forget about how important the dissection is, both to you and your donor. But, it’s important to remember that, for our donors at least, they requested to be at our university and their families also agreed after their death. So, we are literally fulfilling one of their dying wishes — and that’s really quite a honor.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is sort of like a combination of college Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on steroids (a nerdy joke, I know), and how much information you’re responsible for is nothing short of amazing. They’ll almost never ask a first order question (e.g. Histidine has what charge?), it’s usually in some type of context and clinically related. I’ve been told even some Biochemistry majors have failed the exam, so don’t rest on your chemistry laurels in this course. Occasionally, there’s a patient study where a patient comes and we learn about how this person experiences their life with their disease. There’s a lot to remember so you can have a base level understanding so that you can understand the clues in the short vignette.
Health Policy and Health Law were too different classes, some classes were taught by economists, some by public health professors, and Health Law by lawyers. It’s sort of telling of how much you’re expected to have an understanding of as a physician. The tests were about laws (such as DNR, when pulling the plug is both ethical and legal as physicians, and patient rights), malpractice, health policy effects and trends, how billing works and insurance policies (including the Affordable Care Act). One thing I took away from this course was that insurance is very confusing.
Human Behavior and Medicine, that’s like psychiatry 101 mixed in with a lot of other things like professionalism, depression and drug abuse with physicians. This course is also called the “silent killer”, because many students put it off, choosing to put their time into other courses to only be dominated come exam time. This course is tricky, because you must pick the best answer in a field of relative decent answers, often two answers are good but one is just better. If you spend a lot of time with the required texts and talk out the points with others it’ll stick, and it won’t seem that bad. Every Friday, I meet up with my beer study group and we discuss the learning objectives and what we took away from X lecture — in other words we learn by talking it out. Incidentally, I can’t wait till Friday.
- Trying to find research opportunities Atrial Fibrillation versus Heart Amyloidosis versus Neurology research
I’ve reached out to a few people, and I’m looking to pull off some research next summer. We were told to try to find something early, and I want to find a good fit so I started looking early. My previous work was with reading squiggly lines and making interpretations (electrophysiology), so I wanted to get into something somewhat related.
- Signed up for more Trauma/ER shadowing for after Thanksgiving, may sign up for Neurology as well after some spots open in the winter
I really enjoyed my first Trauma shadowing experience as a medical students (I was also pleasantly surprised how much was expected of me), I signed up to be with the same doctor as last time (hopefully the schedule works out). I joined an interest group for Neurology, I’ll be signing up to shadow there too.
- Attended annual semi BUSM student event with date in tow
See cover photo. Can’t say what happened because “What happens in Vagus, stays in Vagus”, I’ll just say medical students know how to unwind after exams!
My exams are almost over, just one more to go — they were very hard in case you were curious. A few weeks ago, before the exams, I was invited to have a podcast conversation with Dr. Ryan Gray of Medical School HQ. So, after stripping off my tie from clinical site duty and me frantically trying to remember what my Skype screen name was we finally got down to it. It was sort of surreal, as before applying to medical school I book marked this site because I really enjoyed the content. If you haven’t heard of Medical School HQ, then it’s a good link to add to your favorites list. Here’s their about statement:
MedicalSchoolHQ.net takes the RELEVANT pre med and medical school topics and creates a one-stop shop for you to quickly get the information you need. Follow our current, constantly updating “Pre Med 101″ page for an easy step-by-step guide to your pre medical years. We´re working hard on developing a Medical School 101 for those students going through it right now. We are constantly looking for new ideas that will help YOU. Please let us know what you need to succeed and we will provide it.
MedicalSchoolHQ.net is the work of physicians. This site is here to help medical school applicants guide their way through the admissions process. It’s here to help medical students pick a specialty, aces the board exams and more. We remember how the MCAT and the AMCAS were (and still are) very intimidating and overwhelming for anybody wanting to apply to medical school. We remember how the USMLE seems to be the make or break test to get you into the residency of your choice. Let MedicalSchoolHQ.net be your hub of information to simplify the process.
My podcast interview was their 95th installment, I haven’t listened to it myself because I cringe at the thought of hearing myself speak (haha). But, if you’re interested in listening and learning some private details about my experience as a nontraditional medical school student please check out:
I’ve been a little pre-occupied with studying, human dissection and medstudent tom-foolery. Starting tomorrow, my school has an exam block for MS1s (first year medical students). At my program, we have a traditional schedule, that is classes from 8 AM until the afternoon: Biochemistry & Molecular biology (and you thought you’d never talk about pKas again), Gross Anatomy (lab and written exams), Human Behavior in Medicine, and Public Health/Law. I have three tests this week, every other day, and the last test next Monday. Interestingly, as time marches on I’ll have less exams to take until Thanksgiving (Turkey Day) — I look forward to this idea.
There’s a lot on our plate as first year, lots of studying, lots of cramming. Though, cramming takes on a different meaning compared to undergrad: in undergrad cramming meant you studied 48 hours before the exam, in medschool cramming means you’ve always been studying and it’s still not enough so you need to really work your buns off as the test approaches to stuff every last bit of information into your brain you can before the exam. I’ve heard from my upperclass mates that this pattern abates, dropping off over time as you become more comfortable with the material and testing style. But for now, most of us are stressing out over the exam block coming up, some more than others. At my school, there are a lot of industrious medstudents who’ve fulfilled a masters/extension to place into my medical school wherein they have a lighter load because they don’t have retake classes they’ve already aced. These people worked for it, and their reward is a little less testing around this time — bravo. So, if you’re one of the people who decided to go this direction, be confident that you aren’t wasting your time once admitted if you set yourself up with the right program. A lot of us however didn’t go this route, so we need to have a full block and we cry ourselves to sleep internally every night as we try to keep everything together, know the minute details while hopefully still understanding the big picture.
So, how do I feel? Pretty freaked out to tell you the truth. But at the same time I’m elated to see that medical school is every bit as challenging as people made it out to be, because it means that hopefully by the end I’ll be a better person and perhaps (if I’m fortunate) a tad smarter. We have a pass/fail system at my school with no internal ranking, this is to help cut down on competition amongst ourselves, but internally I’m sure a lot of us still want to do well just to prove it to ourselves that we ‘belong’. I’m lucky though, my classmates are ultra supportive and we study together randomly all the time — in fact, I randomly crash study groups all the time.
This past Friday, I decided to take a study break and I visited the person who interviewed me. You see, she told me to visit her if I decided to attend the program after my interview. I laughed when she told me that, and said of course because I halfway figured I’d be rejected and she just didn’t want to ruin my day. So, I lived up to my word and paid a visit. We talked for about an hour and a half, she told me why she wanted me to be admitted and I told her how I felt about the interview day and her interview. She later showed me her lab where she helps head the amyloidosis research, where both PhDs and MDs work together on a translational research project. We viewed a slide of amyloid protein stained with a Congo Red dye. You’ve probably heard of amyloid protein before, and the first thing to come to your mind is probably Alzheimer’s, but the protein plaques can also aggregate in your visceral fat around your gut and heart (in the septum). You can diagnosis someone with amyloidosis by taking a sample of fat from the visceral region, using it to confirm images of a hypertrophied septum thus confirming amyloidosis — the day actually turns apple green under polarized light, it’s still debated why this happens exactly. It was awesome because I just learned all of this a few weeks prior, and I have a test on the subject (and many others) tomorrow morning, so that’s one question I probably won’t get wrong.