Latest Event Updates
So, the last time I left off on this blog I was having a happy-go-lucky the night before my Endocrinology exam. Great news, my chicken to egg ratio estimation was pretty spot on, the exam went remarkably well — in fact, it’s was my personal best since I started medical school. Academically, a lot of things happened just at the right time to make it happen, and a lot of that is because I have a solid and dependable study partner. A lot of us live off campus, so we have many off campus study habitats. One day, we expanded the study group, did practice questions, then discussed every option either right or wrong. It doesn’t take that long to do this by yourself, because you only have your internal dialogue to contest with on topics. Add in another person, two type-A medical students, the time takes longer but you each individual gets more out of it; probably because you can’t just appease yourself any longer. Add a few more people, toss in contrasting personality types, and well you have an all day affair. But, it was well worth every minute. I think having to explain my ideas or theories of why an answer is right in front of my peers, friends with very low tolerance for BS or fluff answers, was a great measure of my understanding. Also, while working on problems I’m not so shy to just say, “I don’t get X, can you explain it to me?”, when I see people who’ve mastered a certain topic more than I — it helps that I know down to earth people who’ll easily say the same thing to me. Anyways, I’m an advocate of studying independently combined with study groups, and I mean really studying in groups not just “parallel play” studying.
I’m on vacation for a few more days, on Monday we start Dermatology (rash city). I have a few random life things to do, apply for a state ID, register for boards, and start scouting for a new place to live for summer before clerkship starts/in between boards. But, for now, I’m going for a small victory of organizing my blog a little. I’ve gotten a few fist-shaking emails asking to make my entries easier to find and search. I’m not a web administrator, and it’s just a blog, but I’ll try to tidy things up on the backend a bit. I figured now’s a decent time, as most premeds who still visit my blog have already applied to medical school this cycle and my blog doing strange things wouldn’t adversely effect them. One of the biggest shifts will be the destruction of all the categories. My blog started just as a post to document my process through medical school, and I haphazardly added categories as the things I spoke about grew. So, I’ll be fixing the categories, with a more limited filing option to make things more logical. Also, I’ll go back and see what I can do about tags to make things easier to search. I appreciate your emails, and the fact that you bother to read and want more out of this odd social experiment that is my blog. I have about +160 articles here to work on, so give me a little time and things will hopefully be smoother!
As the title alludes to, I have an exam in the morning to start my day at 8 AM. Followed by that, I think I have a free spat of time in the afternoon to hang out with friends (since I’m away from home, all of my friends in Boston are now medical students or doctors now). Though, around 3 PM, I’ll do my service learning experience — I’ll be in the anatomy lab with high school students and talking about lungs, should be fun. A lot of medical students, at least the one I go to, pursue a lot of special interests on the side. It’s common for medical students, I assume across the country, to volunteer their time outside of their coursework. I assume, like me, a lot of people find having an experience outside of syllabi to be mentally therapeutic. I’ll get home at around 6 PM, maybe eat dinner and
watch rewatch Scrubs, or maybe make it a date night.
The interesting thing is, all of this is happening tomorrow and the exam bothers me the list bit. I’m actually looking forward to it, mostly because I get a week’s vacation (minus clinic hours) from class. While I still have a lot to learn, I’m learning to really value what’s important in medical school: being healthy. So, though I’m really looking forward to the vacation I’ve also tried to follow the stride of some of my other classmates’, and strive for a better work-life balance. My days of taking vacations like this are numbered, so it’s important to learn how to just enjoy what I’m doing instead of just waiting till the next extended vacation to get affairs in order.
After weathering the storm of an over committed first year, I’ve (and I hope others) found second year to be both healthy challenges and at the same time an epically better experience than the first year. I’ve grown a lot closer to my classmates, and think of some of them as family (cousins perhaps), and when working together everyone is extremely helpful and bright. This year, I participated in a program where I shadowed charge nurses at one an “away” hospital. This was a great experience. I tossed on my short white coat, tied my stethoscope into a loose pretzel knot and stuffed it into the white coat pockets. Jammed my pocket Bates into the other, I thought about smuggling a sandwich but that seemed obsessive. I clipped on my name tag and called a Lyft to give me a ride to the hospital, as it was quite a trip with public transportation — and really, time is money. I arrived, and after wandering around the maze of the new hospital, I found my station and charge nurse I’d be shadowing for the day — okay, actually what really happened was I saw one of those robots that travel around the hospital, followed that a bit, then ran into a new rotation 3rd year who was also wandering around, then I found the cardio nurses station.
In any event, the nurses were all great people and taught me a lot of things, I got to see the hard work nurses put in, and working and eating together we all had a lot of laughs together. The hospital EHR was not exactly the same as our, but it was similar enough to jump on the computer to learn more about the patients we were rounding on. We were keeping close watch on one patient with Clostridium difficile, complicated by heart failure, arrhythmias, and many years of smoking cigarettes. I gave listened to his breath sounds with the charge nurse — he still heard crackling sounds in both his lungs, typically a sign of a fluid that shouldn’t be there. We then gave him his nebulizer treatment. I stretched out the hunter green elastic strap of the nebulizer mask, tossed in the dose the nurse gave me, and turned on the air. I’ve seen this done many times, but usually it was having someone do it to me. At that time, and though I have a long haul ahead of me, I realized more than ever that I’ve truly happy with my decision to attend medical school including all of the bumps that come along with it. I remembered that one of the big reasons why I wanted to be here is because I wanted to feel like I was “paying it forward” for all the times physicians and nurses helped me growing up. And, I remembered that I never predicted I’d actually be in this position to fulfill my wish as a kid to validate myself by paying it forward. So, despite there being a huge looming exam in the morning, and the mountains of debt, I’m sort of totally okay with it.
Wish me luck!
From Boston, happy autumn! Here’s a picture near my house.
Around this time of the year, squirrels should have already built their nests, and premeds are getting interviewed at medical schools. Third year medical students no longer exist, and fourth year medical students are taking care of their residency process. For me, I’ve just past the midway point of my second year of medical school and board examination. A few weeks ago, I started to prepare for the boards. When people decide to prepare for the boards is up to them, each medical school gives their second year students time off before their examination to dedicate their time to it. However, due to the high stakes of your permanently recorded score, must students start preparing for it earlier — some students have started studying since last year, some started this summer, the large majority seem to wait until fall or winter to start thinking about it — it’s a personal choice when you decide to start it. For myself, I have a hard time evaluating what I do and do not know, so answering questions works for me whilst taking the same course: I do psychiatry questions during the psychiatry section of class. In essence, I’m trying to eat my cake and have it too, I’m trying to use the boards as an adjuvant to class or vice versa.
If you’re not familiar with the boards, and most notably the question style, this succinct best flow chart below explains the situation the best…
Here are the resources (besides lecture material) I use, so far:
- Goljan (high yield notes) – there’s a mix of materials, written and audio, you can choose what works for you.
- Board Review Series (BRS) – I supplement this when needed. The lecture notes will be more detailed, but BRS is best used IMHO to get the big picture.
- First Aid (notes) – I’ve started to just take notes straight into it. When I get questions wrong (any question bank), I just look up the topic in First Aid, see if it’s a fact that I never heard of or not, then I finally just annotate straight into the book.
- Sketchy Medical – this is a must have for all second year medical students. You will feel absolutely ridiculous using this in public, but your blushes are worth the pay back. I watched the videos and used the provided PDF ‘images’ as Anki (flashcards). Thankfully, they’re coming out with a Pharmacology series, I will definitely pick that up.
- UWorld (question bank)- the school strongly suggested we just stick to UWorld and some other materials they’ll update us about later, they also told explicitly told us to avoid a certain company. We were told they ask the appropriate level of third order question that we should see on our boards. I started with just doing 3 UWorld questions a day, I started only within the same subject as I was learning. Now, I do 6 in-subject and 4-5 previous subject questions. Afterwards, I just review what I got wrong and annotate that into First Aid.
- Anki – I’ve used it intermittently. It can get sort of boring to do, but it does help a lot if you just have to remember a lot of details. For myself, I’ve learned the simpler and less “busy” the card the better and faster I’ll memorize the card duo. The trick to making Anki useful is to speed up the rate it takes you to make cards. If you have a diagram, table, or image to memorize then use image occlusion. To my knowledge, and at least on my Mac, image occlusion is either missing or obscured away in the Apple compatible version. If you’re using an Apple, then you can install Wine. The Wine program will allow you to run windows programs on your Mac. If you design a two-item table in Excel (both Windows and Mac), then you can save it as a .CSV. A lot of people don’t like using Anki because it takes too much time to make cards. I remember, in my first year I’d spend hours making cards, now it only takes about 20-minutes to do the same amount of work to make them. For me, it was just important to not try to make a card for every little detail and not lose focus of the medium and big picture.
- Doctors In Training (DIT) – I just received a confirmation order, and I should be receiving it soon. I’ve heard very positive things online, especially last year when second year students were tweeting about their board results. When I get some time to sit down with it, I’ll update this blog with a review of how it worked for me.
- Pathoma – it seems like I’m the last person in my class to use this, but I just started to try it out this week.
- PubMed – often, a handful of lectures can be summed up by a short well written paper.
Anyways, that’s what I’m doing for the boards. I really don’t like adding new things into my study schedule — the more wonderful the tool the more time it usually takes to learn how to use. For this, I use First Aid as my nexus of information by taking notes into it. If I see an article on PubMed that explains it the best, then I write down a couple of words plus the PMCID so I can look it up later. So, for any source of information (especially when using multiple) I find it’s important for me to keep good track of references. I’ve even found it useful to cite First Aid pages within First Aid itself, for example at times where two concepts go together seamlessly (in my mind). If you’re in the gallows of the first year, hang tough, when you finally figure out how to juggle flaming sharks as a MS1 you’ll be able to transfer a lot of the skills over to MS2.
I use my course grade as a barometer of how well I’m balancing my position as a medical student, research, volunteering (mentoring), shadow, clinical duty, board studying, and personal life. To pass each module you need to have an average equal or greater than 72%. This year, I follow the suggested set-point given to us by our academic advisors, I try to keep my average around 85% — I’m willing to miss a few points on a written exam if it means doing the things I like. Anecdotally, I’ve heard striking a balance is key:
- I’ve heard of a minority of students going hard on board studying, but neglecting the grades, and they had to remediate courses and lose time studying for boards anyways.
- I’ve heard of a minority of students going hard on course work (nearly achieving perfect scores), not studying for the boards until the last minute, and ultimately having to retake the boards to get a score a more representative score.
- On the flip side, I’ve heard of a smaller minority who by virtue of doing nothing else but study successfully destroy the boards and the coursework, but then had to take a gap/research year to become more competitive in terms of extracurricular — this is obviously a very specific case, and really only something worth thinking about for extremely competitive specialties. Though, in the scheme of things, this is the best of the three problem situations to have.
Anyways, have a great weekend!
Honestly, there’s no point in being around the bush, we all know that residency programs aren’t exploded with positions nor funding. So, as a consequence, medical students (masters of hoop jumping) are interested in both learning and forming a competitive residency application. There’s lots of pros to performing research, I’ll let you speculate on what they are and choose what is most important to you. Not everyone wants to do it, nor does everyone have to, but if you like research than don’t let medical school get in your way — you don’t have to be a MD/PhD or MD/MPH to conduct projects.
Know that there’s different forms of research in the medical community, and know the pros and cons. Every type of research has it’s niche problems and it’s own rewards. I have to admit that I’ve only have done bench and clinical research, so I’m limited on other types. So, I can only comment on what I learned from working on the IRB prior to medical school about the others:
Likely the hardest in terms of taking successful measurements, in fact more than half of the project may be the team just sifting through superfluous or as some would say “hearing the data through the noise”. The fool-hearty go into bench research hoping for a publication, it’s best to expect to receive the baton and pass it onto the next generation. It usually takes several years to go from concept to publication, if everything lines up, so don’t expect any immediate rewards besides intellectual and networking gains. Though, if you join an established lab you may be able to stand on the shoulders of giants and gain a publication or presentation or two.
Likely one of the hardest in terms of dealing with confounders and logistics, but if the research is successful you have a decent shot at seeing the ideas of the project be put into practice (or at least attempted). However, logistically, these projects may be monsters onto themselves. I can probably write an entire article of what can go horribly wrong on these projects, even if everything is done right from the researcher’s prospective, there is no reason to assume that the project will end successfully as there’s an abundance of things out of your loci of control.
Confounders, confounders, confounders. There is an illusion that there’s low hanging fruit, i.e. just think of something and try it out and it’ll count as research. But, that’s pretty far from the truth. By definition, research is generalizable and has some sort of public benefit. As a consequence, it’s very difficult to actually think and perform a research project on societal issues and have it both be valid and generalizable. I know that’s a fuzzy definition, but haven’t you ever wondered why the surveys or senior thesis likely didn’t need IRB approval? Well, it’s because it wasn’t generalizable. This is not to say that receiving IRB approval means the project was/is legitimate research, honestly a lot of the time it was just a didactic exercise that certain departments tend to have — in fact, many institutions that pump out a lot of projects have an expedited process for projects that don’t necessarily fall under the category of research but still require oversight.
My gross explanation doesn’t do any of the disciplines justice. My reasoning for bringing it up was just note that you might actually like research you may not particularly like a certain niche of it.
Find a subject that interests you, don’t just aim for notoriety — seen a lot of bright people get disappointed by their projects despite joining an established lab/group. I have no idea what I want to specialize in, but I did know what I wanted a better understanding of cardiology — I’ve lost a grandfather and a brother who I’ve never met to cardiac problems, a grandmother to a pulmonary embolism (technically, of venous origin, a point for the lung field). Also, perhaps because I wanted to validate my time spent prior to medical school, I wanted something where I could transfer some of my previous experience (electrophysiology). If you got into medical school by working on the social determinants of health then continue that line of work if you so choose.
2. Use the internal search within your school’s site to find people you’d like to work with, follow up with some brief reading on PubMed etc. Don’t just research your PI to be Machiavellian in intent, instead find someone who legitimately interests you. Afterwards, just fire off an email, it’s much easier to get a response to talk to a physician or professor when you’re doing so as a physician candidate than compared to undergraduate years.
3. Meet with prospective PI, test for chemistry and expectations — it’s important that you not only are at their mercy, but you also should let them know your expectations. Do you want to be part of a well oiled machine, or do you want to be one of the people who develop the well oiled machine. For my PI, I eventually exchanged a verbal check-list of things I expected to learn: how to read ECG (with cardiologist input), patient exposure, and to be involved in the planning and execution of projects. Likewise, my PI gave me their check-list of things they expected from me. It’s better to custom right your own ‘wedding vows’ than accept a stock contract. Lastly, we have a very transparent understanding that I expect financial compensation, reciprocally I should make sure I work hard enough to deserve compensation. As an undergrad it’s important to learn how to bite the bullet and earn your keep, as a graduate student it’s important to know your value and feel appreciated.
4. Find funding – prior to medical school I had no problem putting in the extra time without compensation. Funding can come in multiple forms, financial, relationships, (team building and mentoring), and entry level experience. At some point, if you’re good at something I believe you should aim to get funded. A fed and housed graduate student is a happy graduate student. Funding can be tricky, but I promise you if you knew how fight for funding as an undergrad (and/or postgrad) the tricks of the trade are more or less the same: keepings your ears/eyes open and applying for a lot of fundings and getting rejected. I applied for several sources, I started off with the largest funding sources then whittled my way down to the more modest ones. Don’t be afraid to bite off more than you can chew on grant applications, at worst you just won’t get them: I tried and failed on big name grants only to get a NIH/American Heart Association one. If you’ve gotten into medical school, being rejected shouldn’t be a new feeling, so don’t mind the endless rejections on funding. It has been a lot of work, but I’ve raised a significant amount of discretionary spending funds and have had a chance to accept just a few less loans:
list serves – check list serves, sometimes your line of work already qualifies you enough to at least apply when an opportunity comes up
research office and development – they’re really good about aligning you with opportunities that fit both your niche research and your background
your PI can be a huge source of leads – a good PI will gladly help you find money to help keep you around, especially if you’re pulling your weight
Again, this isn’t meant to be a definitive guide, I’m just explaining how I personally found a research opportunity and how I decided to handle the negotiations.
If you’re a premed, you might want to read up on the older articles about how to find research as an undergrad:
Between the last post, about two weeks ago, and this one we’ve taken two exams: Cardiovascular System and Neurology. There is one exam, for each subject, you either pass them or you fail them.
We start a new unit on Monday, so there’s a brief interlude where I have nothing to do! Sort of.
Let me start with what happened right after my cardiovascular exam, that was two weeks ago. The exam was placed on Wednesday. Right after the exam, that Thursday morning, we had a mandatory discussion on Neurology — hours of suggested review and reading was ‘suggested’. Friday, I was scheduled to give the flu shot, followed by Integrated Problems presentation and group work. Fortunately, the flu shot was canceled, unfortunately life thought it’d be funny to make me sick instead. I made it through most of the day, went home and pretty much hacked up my lungs throughout the 3-day weekend of Neurology. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the flu, but it just went from a simple cold to something rather wicked combined with my asthma. Considered going to urgent care for a nebulizer, if my oxygen saturation dropped more than it had (I was at a do-able 95%, down from my usual near 99-100%). After a few days, the cold was gun, but the congestion was just ridiculous. On top of that, class was still going on (4 lectures a day), as well as my part on the research project, and trying to maintain a healthy relationship.
Everything worked out, I hit my deadlines with the patient and subject (controls) enrollment, didn’t flake on my commitments to friends, and I did well in Neurology. Ok, sure, one patient we couldn’t enroll in the study but wanted to join at one time sent me a “poop” emoji. But, I’m really learning how to let things roll off my back — in fact, I think the “poop” emoji is sort of hilarious, how does one professionally respond to a “poop” emoji as the only text you receive without any previous texts?
After a week, I was feeling well enough to enjoy myself again. I’m learning to better use my time as well, and how to take a break — I even went to a Japanese tea ceremony instead of studying this past Sunday.For me, that’s a big deal, it’s breaking the cycle of ruminating. A friend from college flew in from California on vacation, so I squeezed in sometime after clinical assignments to eat a vegan restaurant. I’m not vegan, she was, but good food is good food.
And now, the exam is over and there’s a lull before the next part of the module begins. My project is coming to a close, it looks like we’ve went from hopeless to actually having the pilot have made enough progress to submit for funding in the coming weeks. I feel like the being busy and pushed into a corner forced me to work on my priorities and better schedule myself, I also hope that it reset my stress ‘thermostat’ to better setting while juggling responsibilities.
The following aren’t so much tips, as they are just a record of how I personally got through a pretty tough patch. The first year, I thought there weren’t enough hours in the day for what they asked us to do. I have a long way to go, but I think I’ve grown a little in terms of time management. From here forward, I will probably use the following system the rest of the year and try to improve them as time goes along:Work with a partner, and divide up the material. This takes a lot of trust, that’s the hardest part of this strategy. Everyone in class is smart, so that’s not a problem. Indeed, it’s likely everyone in a medical school class was that one person who got stuck doing all of the “legitimate” work on group projects as an undergrad. As soon as you find a person you can literally spend all day with for weeks prepose to make that study buddy relationship official.
- My partner and I split the work 50/50, for no particular reason I took the odd lectures and they took the evens. We would make study guides for each lecture, and present the study guide orally (and the logic) every few days in person or on Skype.
- Close to the exam, when we did a full review, we then present the lectures again at a faster rate but this time we’d switch the lectures (I did evens, they did odds).
- Work on practice questions separately, then discuss the questions, stems, and all the answer choices — it was usually a good exercise to figure out why the wrong answers were wrong and modify them to make them right.
- I kept a running list of things I feel I needed to work on, for example if I noticed I sucked at a particularly subject I’d note it then go read more about it. I found checking PubMed and UpToDate was usually very helpful to put things into context for clinical relevancy. In my notes, I found it was very helpful to keep track of my citations when I learn something new.
- When I was most lucid, I’d make a priority to do list every so often to take stock of where I was in the day/week. Sometimes, I’d noticed the most important task for the day was to run through Anki pharmacology cards, sometimes the most important task (time wise) was to phone patients/subjects, at other times I found the most important task was just to assess my situation.
- To keep on top of my research I just tried to keep in close contact with my PI with occasional meetings, we often exchanging text messages, or emails, and the occasional evening calls to touch bases. Keeping a transparent relationship on the project made things very doable.
And now, I’m pleasantly enjoying my night off. Sure, I have stuff to do this weekend: signed up for nurse shadowing this weekend, have to contact some patients/subjects. So, I’m not totally off, but at least I get to take a nice mental break. Next week, I’ll return to the cardiology wards for a few morning rounds with my PI’s cardiology team. The project is coming to a close, and this next module of medical school will be a lot easier on time since I don’t expect to be sick or jump on any emerging pilot projects for any time soon — I hope.
This week, in America, there were three school shootings.
“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
― James Baldwin
I can hardly believe that I just typed that, but this mass shooting would make about the 145th or 146th since the 2012 Connecticut mass shooting. Even prior to me moving out to Massachusetts, there was the Santa Barbara shootings. Having worked at several elementary schools in my past, I’m no stranger to potential shooter lock-downs — fortunately, all of them ended up being a false alarm, unfortunately that usually meant the shootings were in the local neighborhood these children had to go home to. I’m old enough to remember the first shooting rampage, Columbine, and I was sure it’d be the last. Little did I know that was just the beginning of our war on each other.
If you’re a foreign reader, a bulk of my viewership is, you might wonder why and how we allow this to go on. You ask a question that many of us, of a certain political slant, have asked our fellow countrymen and women. I wish I could give you a succinct and logical reason to why we have yet to implement any meaningful changes or policies, but I can’t.
America has a lot of things going for it, but one thing we can never forget is that we’re the land of contradictions — some would even call it the hypocritical. We are proud of our rights, especially the extremely quotable “All men are created equal”. Though, we prefer not to discuss that African Americans were denied this right by being deemed “not American, therefore have no rights“, and hence how you can have a country that proclaims freedom but operated one of the most organized and cruel slave trades in modern history. When Germans, Irish, Polish, and Jewish immigrants first came they were all met with racism wrapped in the cloak of nativism — in fact, until the Irish started to migrant here there almost was no immigration policy, it was seemingly forged to keep the ‘others’ out. Arguably, some Asian families were even here long before some of their European counterparts, however this is a minor footnote in history despite their contributions and Asians are almost always considered ‘foreign’ even though many are as American as apple pie and ice cream. Indeed, taking a chapter out of WWII strategy, some politicians profit on nativism and target those from Central & South America and Middle Eastern decent — don’t worry my Middle Eastern friends, if we’ve proven anything is that you too will get the chance to be the native against the next new group.
Though, it’s important to note that no one race has ownership of all prejudice or hate, in fact we’ve seen many nativism sympathizers of all races with my own being no exception. It would seem the best way to prove you’re a native is to hate on the newcomers. Also, it’s important to note that America holds no monopoly over racism disguised in the cloak of nativism, we just have a penchant for pretending like everything is okay-dokey. The irony is that we’re a country of immigrants who get in a hissy-fit when new immigrants come here to try to receive the same benefits their forefathers did — there the difference is that for a lost of ‘natives’ their family came when immigration wasn’t strictly enforced and now it is.
So, in the land of contradictions is it really any wonder that we’ve forsaken ourselves for the right to have a pistol?
And it would take a full dedicated article to discuss how women have been often been excluded, and heaven forbid you’re minority and a women circa the period your people were hated. We claim to care about children, but do nothing but offer prayers at the hope that someone else will take action when they’re massacred.
Therefore my reader, I apologize, I can not explain why we’re okay with nearly weekly massacres. You would assume, since we spent trillions on terrorism abroad, that we would be staunch opponents of domestic terrorism with guns. However, in yet another series of contradictions, we decided to turn a blind-eye. Really, the most logical conclusion is that if we cared enough we’d do something, since we don’t we simply don’t — I would find that a much more honest and genuine position than feigning compassion.
Many can cite Australia as a country who successfully passed sweeping gun legislation to curb mass shootings following their tragedy. Australia’s response was “never again”, we can only wonder at which massacre, perhaps the “245th” we’ll finally have the guts to take a hard look at ourselves and weigh which matters more: the idealistic argument about guns or the actual lives they’re used to take.
But, I think it’s something a country of immigrants can eventually come together to work out, as soon as we get rid of nativism and the fear of the ‘other’.
on Wednesday Yesterday
We’re well into half of the first semester. This block of courses was Pulmonary (finished) and Cardiovascular. Mixed into our ‘classroom’ time we’re also scheduled for didactics training, and interspersed among everything we have workshops on medical imaging (X-rays, CT scans, etc). It’s our last year of ‘classroom’ time, from next year we take the boards and hit the wards and pretend to be doctors — I keep using the parenthesis with “classroom” because I don’t actually go to class unless it’s a discussion, skills training, or seminar. I spend most of my time studying like I did for the MCAT, at a cafe with headphones — I find studying in public really helps to break up the monotony, and it’s nice to strike up a random conversation with a stranger (I’m Californian).
In the summer between MS1 and MS2 I had a project in the cardiology department. In the project I made new friends, and I even gained a role model. With that project completed, and classes ongoing, I received an email asking to help with another project. I like having projects, it keeps me busy and out of trouble — idol hands. Monday, I traveled to pick up the proprietary software/laptop I’ll be using for the project. A week ago I received a batch of portal ECG device I’ll use with patients, and from today I started on recruitment. It’s going to be a tough schedule for the next few weeks, this pilot project should be done in two weeks. The neurology part of this block also has its exam in two weeks. There is free time in medical school, I’ll just have to use it judiciously in the next few weeks. Anyways, I’m really excited I get to help with this project because I believe the results will be generalizable. Selflessly, a large bonus is that I believe this project’s scope will help my own parents health. I want to talk more about it, but half of the project is still proprietary and the hard work didn’t come from me.
I believe it was around this time, two years ago, that I interviewed at my program. Because cardiovascular disease has literally plucked those I care about away, I ended up dropping all interests of PhD programs to become a MD. I have no idea if I’ll be a cardiologist, if I’m qualified to be one, or if I’ll still be interested when it comes time to apply for that fellowship. But, what do do know is that I’m grateful that I even have that as an open possibility.