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I’ve been in medical school for just a few weeks, I thought I’d leave some highlights and help document my own memories:
Intubation is an emergency procedure usually done in the emergency room to secure the airway of someone who can’t breath on their own and you have some trepidation about them drowning in their own secretions. My medical school, more specifically emergency medicine interest group at my program, had an open opportunity to anyone who dared to try to intubate an anatomical dummy. A few weeks before I started medical school I got caught up in the show Boston Med, in that episode a fresh MD intern tried to intubate a patient and failed to do so — I know this is a skill you need down because time is the essence in both saving the figurative patient and reducing co-morbidites. So, what better than to get an idea of how hard this procedure is then by trying it as a first year with absolutely no training except the crash course 30 second mini lecture I received beforehand. The procedure is straightforward, but not without it’s caveats:
1. Place laryngoscope into oral cavity, hooking the tool towards the basement of the tongue. Ultimately, the purpose is to reflect the tongue out of the way.
2. Push and lift the laryngoscope, being sure not to roll the tool backwards as this will either break the patients teeth (best case scenario) or crack the maxilla (bad news). The point of this movement is to expose the trachea (the vocal chords end up being a dead give away, no pun intended).
3. Once you’ve located the trachea, you stick a tube with a balloon attached down their trachea, you must be sure to not insert the tube down the esophagus (ultra bad news). Within the tube there’s a stiff, but pliable, rod that will keep the tube from collapsing as you’re trying to gently/aggressively shove the tube down the trachea. Once you’ve done that, you put about 10 cc of air into the tube to both keep the tube in place and prevent fluids from the patient from regurgitating up and going into the lungs (also bad news).
4. Then while holding onto the tube, you pull out the rod, and place either an attachment to bag to manually ventilate for the patient or the ventilation machine.
It’s pretty straightforward, though performing it is another story. I failed the first time, I wasn’t aggressive enough to expose/open the trachea. I then took a mental break and tried it again, this time I got it but after a brief struggle. Finally, after gathering my experience and thoughts I tried again and this time I intubated right away! I’ll definitely will be practicing this more in my 3rd year in the clinical skills laboratory. I never really thought of myself as a hands on person, despite constantly working with my hands, but I liked it and I’m excited for my future emergency room rotation on the wards as a 3rd year.
Signed up to shadow trauma surgeon
You never really know what you’ll do by the time you finish medical school, at least that’s what I’ve been told repeatedly. I suppose this hit home the most when, during my interview, one physician spoke to us about her own experience in medical school until now. At first, she couldn’t see herself doing anything but primary care, now she’s a trauma surgeon. She said to us during our interview, “If you come to this school be sure to contact me if we’re interested in shadowing in trauma”. So, I did followed through and contacted her, I have my first shift sometime next week. Let’s see who that goes, my primary goal is to not get in the way.
The naming of gross anatomy proves that science people do have a sense of humor. Interestingly, it’s not so much the person or the physical anatomy that grosses medical students out. Instead, it’s that we’re inclined to like people and I won’t lie, a lot of us are quite sensitive emotionally (at least it’s that way in our class). The person who donates their body is the most beautiful and inspiring person you’ll never meet (unfortunately, postmoterm). For medical students this is a rite of passage, we all deal with the emotional and psychological impact in our own way. For me, it was with a pint of ice cream — though, I didn’t finish the ice cream yet as I was too tired to physically raise the spoon to my face. Last week we prepped the donor (and ourselves), this week we started dissection on her. Like most medical schools I’d imagine, we started with the back as they have huge muscle groups and there’s a lot of room for error due to the nature of the back, they have you start with the back first so you can learn how to work a scalpel. This is a huge effort, and requires a lot of team work. There are 8 members in my team, but only 4 of us are there for a session — but we are one unit. One team starts, then another team comes and finishes. In between, there’s something called “transition of care”, this is analogous (and purposely so) to patient hand offs in the hospital. Each day there is a team leader (from the 4 person cell) who’s responsible for making sure the next team leader (of the other 4 person cell) knows what’s going on and what issues have come up. If we don’t finish our objectives, it’s the whole teams responsibility to self schedule a team to finish the work before the next dissection assignments. Today, I was part of the first team and all of my awesome team members worked together and achieved our goal today.
We Start Seeing Patients this Week
A lot of medical schools try to get their medical students into clinical thinking as soon as possible, typically with mock patient interviews from skilled patient actors. Our 3rd week into medical school we’re already schedule to start doing rounds with either residents are MS4 medical students and seeing real patients. Our responsibility is to take their medical and social history (probably from the nth time), and present out information to our superiors. I’ve already received my white coat, but it’s not in my possession because I gave it back to the school to get it embroidered as required. I’ll get it back this week before I start seeing patients. Around the same time I’ll be receiving my stethoscope and otolarynscope, both of which I probably won’t realistically know how or need to use for some time. For now, my focus will be on seeing patients, and learning how to build a report while gaining skills at getting an accurate and informative history from patient interviews. I’m a little nervous about missing information more than anything.
Survived My First Medical School Exam
The school crunched what would be a semester in undergraduate of Histology into 5 days (literally) followed by an exam. As I’ve never formally taking Histology I was a little apprehensive about this, as were many of my classmates, many of whom have never had experience in the subject matter either — though, it should be noted that some of my classmates were savvy enough to have taken a masters post bacc course (or post bacc with no degree) Histology course for 7 weeks prior to this. I mention this because if you’re of those people who’re doing post bacc work you should know you’re work isn’t going to waste, those people were comfortable with the cram session. For the rest of us, it was a gratifying torture, but we got through it. My school is a pass/fail school, though we can personally see our own scores so we can know how we’re doing. I passed with a comfortable margin, in fact the class average was rather high considering the circumstances. I should mention that the biggest difference between medical school and undergraduate work is that you really need to work with others to make things work, there’s just too much for you to think you can cover by yourself in too short of a period of time. I go through this period by planning studying groups, crashing study groups, and showing up to office hours. Without my class I’m not sure if I’d be sitting so comfortably right now as I write this blog, instead I’d likely be panicking and wondering if I’ll make it — turns out the signs are positive.
Just finishing up the second week of medical school, it’s been a really busy week. I have a test coming up on Monday, we’re covering a semester (or quarter) of histology within a week — though, we’ll revisit it again in more depth next year. We”re the first year they’ve tried experimenting with this “crash course” in medical histology so that everything, coincidentally we’ll also be the last as they’re switching to system based curriculum for entering students next year. Though, it should be noted that our second year is clearly system and diagnostics based. Regardless, a medical school will make you a doctor, but it’s our job to try to get the best out of the experience to later to good physicians. Some of you have been given a chance to attend a medical school interview, if so congratulations! If not, there’s still plenty of time to receive an interview, some people in my class were invited rather late and accepted almost the week before school so keep pushing through. And remember, if you don’t get in then improve your application and re-apply.
So, with that aside, here are some interview tips (this list got longer than I expected, sorry not much time to edit it down!):
1. Do a ridiculous amount of homework for your interview: check the local news online, check their website for their local interest groups and try to see how you’d fit into their program and mission.
2. Know your application better than anyone on Earth. Nothing is worse than coming off as a fraud, and the easiest way to do that is to appear like you fluffed your application. Know your application, know why you participated in X groups, why you took a gap year, understand your influences and weak points. They can only go off what ever you’ve presented them with, don’t let them know you better than you know yourself as it won’t go well.
3. Practice coming up with main themes for you answers for the interview. You can try doing a few mock ones if you wish, I’m lazy and shy about those types of things so I just came up with main themes and practiced by myself (lack practicing for a speech). Though, to be fair, I’ve given a lot of speeches and talks so it’d probably be better to just try with others. There are plenty of books with “sample” interview questions, just pick one up and go through it to come up with your own answers. Also, just search Youtube for interview tips, some of it is baloney but it’ll get your gears turning.
Logistics and Transportation
4. Purchase airplane tickets at least 6 weeks prior to the interview, after that they rates really will jack up. Note that the rates change throughout the day, so check multiple times (or set alerts for price deals etc). You probably won’t rack up enough miles to make use of any frequent flyer program, they tend to do a good job of keeping you away from cashing in, so don’t get too picky about riding on a certain airline.
5. Rental cars are pretty pricey to hang onto during an interview, but they offer a lot of flexibility. If I were interviewing again, I would have rented a car less and probably have just used Uber (with a back up plan of using a cab). Though, depending on how far out you stay from the school while visiting a rental car may be the most logical way to go.
6. Show up and find the place you’re supposed to arrive at about 45 minutes to a hour early. It’s okay to ask the staff if you’re in the right place, after you’ve confirmed just hang out and have a seat and try not to bother the staff. Be extra friendly, the staff and faculty at medical schools are infinitely closer than your undergraduate experience so treat everyone you meet (even the janitor) as if they’re potentially the dean of admissions. If you’re early and nice to everyone it’ll help cut down on the nervousness, at least it did for me.
7. If you’re a male, learn how to tie your tie. There’s no shame if you don’t, but if all you have to depend on is your pre-tied tie done by your uncle three years ago then you’re setting yourself up for stress during you interviews. It’s not hard if you practice it a few times in the mirror — you can find plenty of videos on Youtube. Also, don’t dare go to your interview without going to a tailor to get your pants and suit cuffs hemmed to fit you. This is the secret to looking professional: you can start off with a relatively cheap $100 suit and pay another 20-30 for tailoring and the result will make it look like a $1000 suit. You don’t want to go looking like you’re wearing your dad’s suit. You don’t need to go get a customer tailored suit, just go to a cheap place that’s been around for a while and ask them for suggestions about fit. Ideally, when you sit your paints should reveal your socks by a few inches and not drape over your shoes when you walk or sit. The cuffs of your white collared shirt should show just barely by perhaps half a centimeter when you’re wearing your suit-jacket, furthermore the jacket should be long enough to stop at your wrist but not after your wrist widens to your hands. However, the caveat here is that if you don’t at least try to start with a suit that fits you in the chest and back especially, then you’ll likely spend another few hundred dollars to get those sections tailored as it takes a lot of work and a skilled hand. If you’re fashionably inept then consider bringing a “professionally dressed” fashioned coordinated friend with you. If you have a thin frame, I’d suggest going with an Italian cut (slim fitting) in the standard medical school charcoal — it’s significantly cheaper to tailor a suit that almost fits you, hemming is usually the cheapest and most bang for you buck thing you can do. And of course, don’t neglect on your shoes, but don’t splurge either however don’t come into the place with squeaky clogs either. You whole goal should be to look like a respectable doctor, after all you will be one soon right?
For females, you don’t need to dress like a puritan or anything, just dress professionally equivalent to your male counter parts. I’d suggest not wearing shoes that “click clack” too much, as they’re both distracting for you and everyone else during the long interview day. Be sure to wear shoes that won’t bloody your ankles (or make adequate preparations in the heel for padding if you have choice). I won’t suggest much more about how to dress, especially as I never saw one female incorrectly dressed for the interview (guys on the other hand, that was a crap-shot). Just be sure that you can be confident in whatever you wear.
There are a lot of people in my class with tattoos (arms, back, etc.), while it’s okay to have them it’s also considerate to cover them for your interview. After you’re in, sure rock that tattoo of Satin devouring kittens, but at the beginning just try to be respectful of others’ beliefs. I personally think tattoos are awesome, but as a first impression don’t make it into a philosophical battle of the merit of tattoos and bias.
8. Be yourself (hopefully that has positive implications) — it’s much too tiring to be something else in my opinion. This translates to standing up for yourself and your opinions during interviews. If you have an opinion, and a rational manner of defending it then by all means it’s okay to disagree with an interviewer. However, you don’t need to pick fights or win battles, just be okay with being fine with “agree to disagree”. If they convince you, fine, but don’t just be a yes “wo(man)”.
9. It’s okay to ask the interviewer questions about the program, about their position etc. You’ll have to “imagine” that you’ll get into multiple programs and you’re just trying to evaluate the best one, this will keep you objective (but, don’t be arrogant about it). There’s a fine but discernible line between arrogance and confidence. In fact, ending the interview with no questions is a passive way to tell people you’re that interested, but don’t ask questions you could have/should have easily found out if you just did a little research. The better your questions, the more they’ll know you care and have given their program careful consideration.
10. Write down the interviewers’ names, this will make it easier for you to write them correspondence later if you choose to do so.
11. Jot down things you liked and disliked about the program immediately while it’s fresh. This way, if you do write a letter to the school (letter of intent, I didn’t write any so I can’t help you there) to let them know your intent of matriculating if accepted you can write legit things as opposed to blowing smoke up their butts’. If you receive multiple acceptances having this list is incredible when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of the program. I kept notes throughout the day, but I wrote them in another language so no one else could peak at what I wrote; if you don’t have that advantage then just write sloppy short hand that only you can read. These notes can in handy actually even during the interview when I was able to address brand new things I found out during the tour about their patient population etc.
12. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t become complacent because you’ve landed a few interviews. Until you’ve landed your acceptance it’s best to treat every interview like it’s the most important interview in the world, heck if afterwards you should be serious about them. If you’ve already gained an acceptance, unless your dead set on going to that program, consider continuing to a few more interviews as you might learn something new about other programs. It’s also decent experience for what you’ll need to do next for residency interviews (though, those are probably a lot more fun).
13. Be humble. Congratulations, you’ve interviewed and whether you get it or not, it’s a monumental step. But, there are those who aren’t accepted for one reason or another, be sure to remember that not too long ago you were just as nervous and unsure as them.
Remember, if you’re invited to an interview then the probably already are at least interested in you (and may even sort of like you). All you need to do is either win a few people over who may not be sure about you and/or prove that you’re not a phony and all the stuff you said on your applications are congruent with who you actually are.
As I massaged the lotion on your skin, I glanced at your nicely kept clean long nails. You can learn a lot about people from their hands, they often reveal more than we ever let on. These hands that were once as smooth as mine, but have grown weathered and experienced with age. I can only wonder who else had the chance to hold your hand: your children, lover, and parents when you were but a child trepidatiously crossing the street. As I stroked your fingers and palms with moisturizer your long elegant cold fingers betray your secret, you were certainly an graceful woman. While holding your hand, I can only wonder what type of wonderful person you were while you were still alive, before you decided to donate your body to our course. Glancing at your face I can still see the pride and wit imprinted in your wrinkles, I’m certain if we had met before you’d have much to teach me and many ways to make me laugh. I will soon know you in a different way, that even those who knew you when your vessel was full would have known. I’m not sure why you’ve decided to donate your body so I can become a doctor, allowing for me to have this intimate experience with you, but I will never forget you because you are my first patient.
You must have been a wonderful person, and I’ll never be able to thank you for letting me get to know you. And although I’m not to sure about the idea of an after life, I can only hope that one day to get the chance to meet you because you’re the most beautiful person I’ve yet to meet.
It’s Saturday morning, I have some ‘down time’ before my mandatory Basic Life Support course, so I thought I’d update my blog about my first week of medical school. If you haven’t started medical school yet, I imagine your week of orientation will be somewhat similar to mine (plus or minus pomp and circumstance).
The first day of school I met my classmates, faculty and staff. This was also the same day of my white coat ceremony and my undertaking of the Hippocratic Oath. There are several renditions of the oath, we took a modern version that was customized for our institution. In the same day, we went on organized scavenger hunts to receive a few course syllabi, pins for our white coat, lockers, medical student ID badges etc. The syllabus in medical school is a cast iron contract of exactly what you need to know (and also implies what you may not need to know by lack of mention). In general, the big difference between undergrad and the medical school syllabus is that some syllabi and slides may constitute all of the reading material for the course (besides supplemental reading) — this is hard to understand until you have the syllabus in your possession, this is also why ‘pre-studying’ before medical school starts is more or less a waste of time because you really need the syllabus to get started. The first day ended with our ceremony and the oath, plus plenty of photo opportunities for proud parents and spouses. Most of us then optionally gave our white coats back so that they could be embroidered, we’ll start seeing patients in two weeks, so we want to make ourselves identifiable.
The rest of the week was really a blur of orientation, talks from top doctors about the state of health care, and team building experiences (these were actually really fun). On the second day of school we had Introduction to Clinical Medicine. They invited a patient to do an interview with our instructor, we were all on the edge of our seats because the patient was real and rather amazing. We started medical histology using virtual microscopy (i.e. digitized images that allow for zooming and can be viewed from any computer with the software), we also had our first group discussion (these are mandatory). Interestingly, a lot of courses do not have mandatory attendance, so some students decide to sleep in every now and then (or perpetually). I’m sure I’ll consider staying home when there’s several feet of snow outside, but for now, I like my classmates so much that one of my main drivers is to hang out with them. I may be able to survive medical school alone, but in order to thrive I’m learning how to tackle this challenge as a group; after all, we’re all going to be doctors, and doctors work in teams. The school uses pass/fail grades to make us less likely to slit each others’ throats like people tend to do in undergrad.
Our class system for MS1 is traditional, i.e. we do the fundamentals first. So my class schedule for the semester boils down to:
- Human Anatomy (starts next week, just picked up scrubs for it)
- Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
- Human Behavior in Medicine (psychology course for physicians seeing patients)
- Introduction to Clinical Medicine (we’ll start doing rounds in a few weeks to interview patients in the hospital and present cases to upper classmates)
Lastly, there’s a lot of opportunity for extracurricular, service, and medical exposure. I just signed to shadow a trauma surgeon in a few weeks, and one student advisory position. Others are already trying to create their own clubs or create their own opportunity by starting programs they think our institution is missing. The wonderful thing about my medical school is that they encourage you to be the same person you were, with the same interests that you had, before you matriculated. This should make sense, because most medical schools want to know what you’ll “add to their program” if you were accepted. My class is composed of 166 members (out of 11,700~ applicants), from 22 countries, some are married, some have children, some identify as LGBT, almost everyone has research experience, and the majority of us are bilingual — we have a lot of things in common, but enough differences among us to make every person an individual.
So far, it looks like they didn’t make a mistake, and I won’t get a letter saying “Sorry, we made a mistake with you”. Thus, this week was a good week!
Thanks for your patience, while I’ve been away for a little. To make sure I didn’t have down time in posting I released some articles I had in the draft box, so hopefully my absence wasn’t noticed at all by my readers.
If you applying to medical school right now good luck! Premeds not applying to medical school, enjoy your summer (even if you’re taking classes, trust me, enjoy your summer!). As you may already know, I was a premed up until recently, I applied last year and had a very fruitful application season (acceptances). As a consequence, I just moved from perpetually hot and sunny California (near LA) to the perpetually shifting weather in Boston.
The last time, and well only time, I’ve been in Boston was for my interview nearly 9-months ago. At that time, I stayed with a M3 host. Well, sort of, he actually wasn’t home for my entire stay as he was on away rotation elsewhere in the state by the time I had arrived. Never the less, he invited me to stay with his room mates as his doppleganger — his roommates were obviously awesome as well. So, the one of the first things I did was get into contact with him! We finally have met, drank a beer and broke bread. He’s an M4 now, and will be graduating by the time I finish my first year. I’ll swing by his house to pick up some much needed dishware, conveniently his roommate wants him to get rid of some of it.
Next on my check list was to celebrate the fact that I was in Boston the same way as I did before: beer. As you may notice, being accepted as permitted me to up my celebratory brews.
Besides that, I also made sure to enjoy my last weekend as a free man. So, I spent most of this week walking around Boston with my roommate and a few others. I can definitely get used to this more scenic city, best part is everything is pretty much in walking distance.
Tomorrow my parents will be coming out to Boston for the White Coat Ceremony — it has occurred to them that this is probably an important day, at least symbolically. Monday, I start orientation for medical school; incidentally, my bed arrives on Monday (2-day shipping my *ss Amazon!). So, I’m sleeping on a hardwood floor cushioned by a rug and garments to brace my body for the painful lay down. Good news, I’m going to medical school, beds and comfort are for suckers!
A while ago a reader asked me if there was a program analogous to the MSAR for DO schools. I’ve harped on and on about how to purchase the MSAR without mentioning that the MSAR doesn’t provide information about DO school. When I applied to medical school I didn’t submit to DO programs, partly because of financial reasons, some part ignorance, and generous helpings laziness after finishing the AAMC MD applications. I’d reckon the reason the MSAR doesn’t cover DO programs is because the overarching agencies representing both medical colleges are disparate entities. when applying to medical school the AAMC has purview over the MD schools, while the AACOM covers the DO schools. As a consequence, the MSAR database is restricted to MD programs.
However…apparently the AACOM does provide a manual to applicants with similar information — how similar I do not know. I’m learned about this from a Twitter user, not because I’m omnipotent : https://netforum.avectra.com/eweb/shopping/shopping.aspx?site=aacom&prd_key=05505d1c-39de-4af2-b0cb-e3b48c095d20
You should follow and thank this person:
What the AAMC and the AACOM have in common is that they provide a lot of information for applicants. In fact, there isn’t much on the MSAR that can’t be found for free on the AAMC, it’s just that it mostly saves you A LOT of time by grouping the data for applicants. One of the best parts of the MSAR, that I couldn’t find on the AACOM site was the gradation of scores and GPAs for matriculating students found on the MSAR (but you may be able to find this in the manual, if someone verifies that please let me know!) — but, right now I’m not sure if that data is actually “captured” by the AACOM so you’ll have to take the plunge yourself. Though, as people update me, I’ll update this post.
However, with a little time investment you can find your school’s tuition, applicant data versus matriculating students (2013), and average scores. I don’t think there’s a comprehensive list about the secondary fees and dates for each school. But, I think with the information provided by the AACOM you should be able to make an informed decision:
Applicant score averages w/o school:
Applicant data per DO school:
Compare against the matriculate data:
Citation, previous reply to post =)
the AACOM has noticed the need to make an easy searchable database to act as a clearing house for all DO programs. Though, I still think it’d be nice if they worked more in unity, they are cousins the AAMC and AACOM.
Hope that helps for the DO applicants! Thanks again to
@TraumaJunkie17 for the update.
If you have anything to add, corrections etc., don’t be shy to message me or post a comment, so I can add more information to this page.
This past weekend I went to luncheon medical students. I had my provisional one glass of wine, and met a few of my future classmates (4 out of the 165) and an upper class mate. It was interesting to meet them, we have some important things in common, but there’s a lot of good diversity among us — it was a fun group. We all met the dean, she flew from Boston to California just to come to that event. Apparently, she does this every year. I guess, it small sound like a small token of appreciation to some, but to everyone at the party it made us feel welcome. That feat alone would have been enough to convince me that I had the right choice in schools, but meeting BUSM alumni and staff really put things over the top. The environment of the party alludes to a reality where I might both work hard and have fun.
My flight is on July 30th, my school starts on August 4th. I land a few days before my lease starts at my new place, so my new roommate will let me crash with him until the 1st; then we’ll both move into our new place. He’s also an incoming M1, should be a good combination. I have about a 17-20 minute bike ride to the school, or half an hour train ride from a station that takes me 7 minutes to walk to says Google. We’ll leave about 5 minutes walk from this huge body of water:
I’m done packing more or less, now I’m just tossing stuff because I can’t bring it with me — this is a lot harder than packing. I’m leaving almost all of my books, taking pictures of pictures so I can leave them, and both giving and selling off my personal items to friends. It’s a cleansing experience really. I’ve moved around more times than I can count, each time I loss more and more things. At first it gets to you, if you’re nostalgic about things, but eventually you see how much those items never meant to you — memories are typically all you need to cherish, and perhaps is the only real thing in this quantum world.
My white coat ceremony and orientation both start on August 4th, the real courses actually start on August 11th. As I arrive on the 30th, at night, I only have a few days to settle in before school starts up — tough cookies. I’ve already pre-ordered my scrubs from a BUSM club for anatomy lab (keep the money local), I’ll pick them up when I arrive. I received a few emails from upper class mates about some get-together events coming up, I saw beer somewhere in the email so I like where this is going already. We’ve been decided into “schools”, this is common at medical schools — I also went ahead and joined the Facebook group for this school. Facebook is usually a horrible desolate wasteland, but chances are your Facebook medical school group will be pretty awesome — I’ve already learned a lot there from both older and new students. I’ll definitely need to consult with them about winter clothes, because that “pond” I showed you looks like this in the winter( for some reason in the winter time we should all dress Victorian, go figure!):