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2nd Busiest Point of Semester: Midterm

Of course, finals week will always be the hardest and busiest times of the semester, but midterm week comes 2nd. Quite a bit has happened for me these first six weeks though. In this post I want to highlight:

My thoughts on the class I dropped and an increase in my health

Studying for science classes

 

With a side note first:

I am going to try to to stay consistent with a post every two weeks on this blog. For the next couple of weeks from here on out I will make a note of anything extraordinary I encounter that could inspire or be useful to premeds.

The difficult part is that every facet of my life intertwines with my academic and premedical pursuits. For instance, I know for a fact that what I eat directly determines my energy levels and, thus, determines the effectiveness of my studying. Exercise is another HUGE component of my life that affects my daily life as a premed. However, I only want this blog to outline and be a record of how my journey in undergrad goes. Interested in my exercise and food habits? Check my other blog out.

 

Referencing back to my previous post, I outlined a valid argument for dropping my Physics 1 class this semester. The main purpose was to have more time devoted for my personal health, primarily fitness. I wanted to follow up with and declare that I have, indeed, improved my fitness! I am personally defining fitness as performing well in all physical tasks, combined in indefinitely varying combination. General physical skills include cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. I believe I have nailed ever one of the skills utilizing the principles and philosophy of Crossfit training and I feel better than ever. The Snatch

Do not let your school work bog down your physical health! We need to take care of our self before we take care of others!

 

Studying for science classes:

I used to be a perfectionist. Throughout my junior and senior year of high school I would read every page of every book and spend an enormous amount of time studying. College demanded a different approach. For general chemistry, biology, and physics I found the key to getting the maximum amount of results with the least effort: Do not read the text UNLESS you need further comprehension

Most professors give ample explanation of the concepts in class and lets face it, most tests will ask you conceptual questions based on main topics. Understand, really understand, the main topics, and do not spend much time on low yield material. For every professor figure out what concepts they like to test you on! Usually after the first test you will know what kind of questions they ask, what form the test will be in, and what kind of answers they like. Do ENDLESS practice problems. That is key.

It is possible to study for hours on end but if there is no practice and physical work out of problems the grade will not come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Academic Limitations

Alright, so I have been meaning to write about the beginning of my sophomore year for quite some time now but have not been disciplined quite enough. I had a situation come up here in my 3rd week of classes that is worth a blog post:

Being too ambitious and realizing limitations

Going into this fall semester I was scheduled 14 total credit hours. My class schedule was:

– Organic Chemsitry 1

– Organic Chemistry Lab 1

– Molecular Cell Biology

– History of Motion Film

– Perspectives on Global Healthcare

After the first week ended I was extremely bored and figured I would tack on Physics 1. I have plans to do a summer research program next summer and saw that most programs start in May right after school lets out. My goal is to complete all MCAT prereqs before June of next year so I can take the MCAT before it changes in 2015! (no one wants to take a longer test that encompasses more material)  In order to achieve this I needed to take Physics 1 this fall and Physics 2 in the spring… or so I thought. 

To cut to the chase, I decided to withdraw from Physics 1 today for many reasons. I could have passed the class with an “B” probably, but, nonetheless followed through with withdrawing. I have read many accounts of medical students who got accepted with a “W” on their transcript. Most of them said the “W” did not hurt their chances at schools nor was it discussed in interviews. 

I actually hope admissions committees bring it up in my interview. I want to tell them why I withdrew. 

WITHDREW for the following reasons:

  • To devote more time to being a better mentor and President to my organization.
  • To be more active in my extracurriculars (e.i. shadowing and volunteering)
  • To give physics the time it deserves for me to think critically and fully comprehend the science
  • And MOST IMPORTANTLY, to take care of my health. I had been putting off exercise and preparing meals for the day, which resulted in poor dietary choices. As all physicians should adhere to practicing optimal health decisions many do not. I do not want to be included in the number for the percentage of doctors who develop preventable diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. I believe this applies for any professional as much as it does for physicians. I will definitely update with my fitness goals and accomplishments soon.

P.S. I actually figured out that a good majority of summer research programs start at the beginning of June. This means I could take Physics 2 during Maymester, still do the summer research, and still be prepared for a 2014 MCAT date!

If You Don’t Use It You Lose It

Summer semester has started this month. In four weeks I am supposed to learn all of plants,animals,organ systems, and ecology. Friends have told me that summer classes are harder because the material is much more condensed. I took their advice with a grain of salt and definitely have experienced their advice after this first week. I wanted to give a quick update with where I am in the summer. Every day last month I was in the orthopedic clinic working and gaining some great clinical experience! Every day this month, so far, my face has been in the books. My motivation and dedication are definitely up though!

Now, for the title of this post. I was working on some general Chemistry last night for kicks, specifically, chemical kinetics, and could not figure out how to solve a rate problem! I just finished learning all this three months ago and have already forgot it! ALWAYS keeping the MCAT in mind, I hope other concepts are not this difficult to pick up when I start my strict study schedule for the MCAT next summer! The old adage, “If you don’t use it you lose it” holds true, especially for concepts like rate laws, which never come up again outside of general chemistry.

I recommend subscribing to MCAT questions of the day to stay on top of your game!

“Respect the MCAT.” – Ryan Grey, medicalschoolhq.net

Speaking with an M.S.1 & Surgery

Wow, this month has flown by. In winding down the month I wanted to write about a few instances that have stood out to me while working in the orthopedic clinic.

– Speaking with an M.S.1: I had the great opportunity to talk with Josh, a medical student, who just finished his first year at Mercer School of Medicine. Throughout college he shadowed the same surgeon I have been shadowing and decided to come back to the clinic this summer for more clinical exposure. I talked to him all about his medical education, from his undergrad years to his MCAT experience to his interviews, and finally his first year in med school. He also recommended classes that I should take in undergrad to make year one more manageable.

– Neurobiology

– Anatomy & Physiology (as it is not required for most Biology majors)

– Biochemistry

– Immunology

–  Genetics

–  Cell Biology

– Embryology

Talking to current or recent medical school students is a MUST for premeds!

 

-Operating Room Experiences: I will say it again, there is nothing more fascinating and thrilling to me than surgery. Of course, I am saying this only as a student observing. Even still, the opportunity to stand just two feet away from skin and scalpel at 18 years old is a blessing. 6-10-13 and 6-24-13  

 

Being Employed Vs. Physician Shadowing

Working in a clinic and shadowing in clinic have very different objectives. This summer was my first time actually being employed by a healthcare facility. Although I have helped out the doctor and his nurses with specific tasks before, I did so as a student shadowing. I have been shadowing this orthopedic surgeon for two years and have balanced the nurse’s tasks with my ability to shadow and see patients with the doctor. Being employed this summer, my number one priority per my job title is to call the patients back from the waiting room and either send them to get x-rays or put them in their private room. Rarely will I go in the room with the doctor anymore and see how he diagnoses the patient. I am greatly appreciative to have an income this summer but I do miss observing the doctor-patient interaction.

NONETHELESS, I am still able to have some patient interaction as I am in charge of inputting patient’s information (HPI, Vitals, etc.) into the computer so it is ready when the doctor walks in. During the history I ask the patient what the mechanism of their injury was, how long ago their symptoms occurred, and if there are any other issues of significance. I use this time to really connect with the patient and establish a sense of raport. Even though I am not the doctor (YET!) I enjoy understanding the unique story of each patient. I conversate as long as time permits because I believe that talking with and having them connect with someone in the office gives them an overall better clinical experience.

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For various reasons, one must understand that doctors can not spend as much time as they want with patients. Listening to a patient’s life story might take away the doctor’s time from other patients who are in need. I try to replace this job myself by readily accepting to hear each patient’s story while taking their history.
I wanted to write this post specifically for premeds who are trying to gain clinical experience shadowing. I want them to know that there is a difference between working for a private employer and shadowing a doctor because I stumbled upon this unique experience unexpectedly.

My 20 Hour Trip to Boston: HMS, BWH, and MGH

What is wrong with wishful thinking? For the past two weekends I have been able to fly and see some of the most respected medical institutions in the northeast that I can only wish to attend. I flew up to Boston’s Logan airport Friday night and slept in the airport. With virtually no sleep I hopped on the MBTA at 7:30 and followed my strictly planned itinerary for the day. My first stop was Harvard Square in Cambridge only because I have long aspired to experience the historic Harvard Yard. It is not possible for me to elaborately describe how inspirational and beautiful Harvard University was.

Longwood Medical Area:

Photo Jun 15, 11 42 47 AM

After passing through the Longwood medical area I arrived at Brigham Circle where Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital is, among other medical facilities. I have not previously stated that I am possibly considering a Master’s degree in Public Health. Along with fixing broken bones and improving people’s quality of life, I am also very passionate about nutrition and exercise. I am currently taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through Harvard’s School of Public Health called Human Health and Environmental Change and thought it would be neat to see the school.

Photo Jun 15, 11 46 00 AM    Photo Jun 15, 11 48 54 AM

Because I am only available to take these trips on the weekend very few facilities are open. If I could have came during a weekday I would have been able to talk to the professor of the class, who I highly respect!

-Harvard Medical School:

Adjacent to the School of Public Health was Harvard’s Medical School. I had seen pictures of HMS’s quadrangle before my trip but physically experiencing the campus took me away.  The main HMS building lined along with its laboratories and specific research buildings around the bright green quadrangle was beautiful.

Looking out onto the quadrangle from the main building

Looking out onto the quadrangle from the main building

Photo Jun 15, 12 09 25 PM (1)  Photo Jun 15, 12 07 24 PM

I know the beauty of this area is only a fraction what Harvard Medical School has to offer. I nonchalantly approached, who I assumed to be a medical student, on the lawn to gather any thoughts or insightful information about HMS. He turned out to be a 2nd year Ph.D student at Harvard who came from California. Of course, I asked him what made him choose Harvard over other institutions for his Ph.D. Expecting him to give an answer about prestigiousness, I was instead given an answer about the diverse fields of research at Harvard as well as their new research buildings. He was not kidding. I was able to go inside their appropriately named “New Research Building” and look around.

Photo Jun 15, 12 17 18 PM

This glass building houses over 800 different labs!

Brigham and Women’s Hospital:

I have not read much about the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) yet. From reading a biography on Harvey Cushing I know that the hospital used to be the Peter Bent Brigham Hopital and it merged with Boston Hospital for Women and the Robert Breck Bringham Hospital in the 1980’s. Not as beautiful as the New York Presbyterian Hospital in my opinion, BWH is still gorgeous from the outside with glass buildings making up most of the different wings of the hospital.

Photo Jun 15, 12 49 15 PM  Photo Jun 15, 12 48 47 PM

Although not on my agenda for the day’s events, I was able to see the famous Boston Children’s Hospital:

Photo Jun 15, 12 16 29 PM

If I had a special interest in pediatrics I would have definitely explored this hospital more. Altogether, the Longwood Medical Area is a fascinating place to be. I can envision superior medical training in this area and would love to study here.

As a whole, Boston is quite different than NYC. I feel more at ease in Boston than in the bustling streets of Manhattan.

Massachusetts General Hospital:

The U.S. News & World Report ranks MGH as #1 in quality of patient care, safety, and 16 different specialties. I have been anxiously awaiting to see this hospital after knowing Harvey Cushing did the majority of his neurosurgery work here. I deeply admire Cushing if you can not tell. MGH of beautiful as well. Photo Jun 15, 2 17 33 PM

I walked into the lobby with such a deep appreciation, knowing so many life saving operations have been performed here. To match into a residency program here, or anywhere in Boston, would be gratifying. Photo Jun 15, 2 23 26 PM

To finish my trip, I had to walk down to the Charles River Basin. Photo Jun 15, 2 43 55 PM

The basin was absolutely beautiful and was only a short walk from MGH. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10y5zp_boston-charles-river_travel#.Ub3ggpzQ5LE

Spending 20 hours in Boston was not enough. I WILL make another trip next summer so I can further explore some museums. As a premed, just visiting the United State’s most premier medical facilites keeps me motivated. I know the odds of studying or practicing medicine at these places are incredibly small, but a quote by W. Clement Stone always comes to mind. “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”

My 36 Hour Trip to NYC: Medical Schools & Hospitals

Having a father as a pilot is very beneficial. This past weekend I zipped on up to New York and saw the best of Manhattan’s medical schools and hospitals… in 36 hours. With the aid of NYC’s MTA subway system I managed to cover some of the most prominent healthcare systems from 32nd street up to 168th street.

Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons                Bellevue Hospital

Medical Schools: Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Weill Cornell Medical College, NYU School of Medicine, and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Hospitals: New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Bellevue Hospital

New York City was HUGE! I loved seeing all the renowned hospitals and medical schools… but that was all I could do. Although I did go inside each one to try and track down medical students, I failed. School is out of session and it was indeed the weekend. Bear in mind that each of my subjective remarks and opinions about these centers are strictly based on APPEARANCE only. I have mildly researched each of the medical schools to understand their history, but not enough, yet, to write about it. I am writing this post to report on an aspiring medical student’s iconic view on (mainly) the LOCATION of NYC finest medical facilities.

Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons:

Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons Traveling the furthest away from Grand Central Station all the way up to 168th street marked my first stop on the trip, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). CUMC has Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center right next to each other. I walked around the perimeter of the hospital and even into the medical school’s lobby. I found my way to their main auditorium, pitch black, and snapped this photo on the central podium: I could feel a sense of the prestigious Columbia University inside. The appearance of the school looks quite dated, but, to me, reflects a sense of uniqueness and specialty. Location wise, 168th street was by far my favorite place in the city I visited. Around CUMC was a more open city with not as many skyscrapers… I wish I would have taken a panorama shot. More pictures of the New York Presbyterian/CUMC area:

In a dream...

In a dream…

The beautiful front entrance to the NYP Hospital/CUMC

The beautiful front entrance to NYP Hospital/CUMC

Weill Cornell Medical College: Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center are under a great deal of expansion and construction. The medical school and the hospital are somewhat connected to each other, but still, of course, have many of their buildings surrounding the famous hospital. I wish I could speak more about Weill Cornell Medical School and their philosophy but I do not know much at the current moment. All I know is that this area on East 68th street was SUPER busy. I almost got hit by a taxi. Nonetheless, this hospital is GORGEOUS!     Photo Jun 08, 4 06 15 PM I wish could have taken better shots but it looks like a true palace! There is beautiful white marble everywhere inside. More photos of the area: Photo Jun 08, 5 35 20 PM       Photo Jun 08, 5 35 40 PM

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai:

Mount Sinai Hospital and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are located up on East 98th and 99th intersecting Madison Ave. I am very interested in Mount Sinai because of some recent statistics and figures I have came across. The medical school,hospital, and student dorms are very close to each other, which is a fantastic for an out of state student unfamiliar with the city. I was not fortunate enough to go into either the Icahn or the hospital but I did go inside this building:

Photo Jun 09, 8 32 02 AM Almost all research done for Mount Sinai is handled in this very new building. The buildings and vacinity of Mount Sinai look very pleasant, however, the surrounding area looks to serve the less fortunate East side of Manhattan. Up and coming with their new Flexmed program, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has my undivided attention right now.

Photo Jun 09, 8 32 16 AM

NYU School of Medicine:

I did not plan on seeing NYU Langone Medical Center on my trip but I am glad did! Ranked on the US News & World Report nationally #6 for orthopedics, researching NYU is definitely on my to do list. From the walk-by I did the medical school and hospital appears to be very recently built. Photo Jun 09, 10 32 11 AM                                          Photo Jun 09, 10 34 57 AM  Being right on the Hudson, NYU Langone Medical Center is nice and busy area.

The rest of my short adventure to NYC, including visiting the NYC Public Library (beautiful!) as well as additional photos, can be found on my personal blog!

Next up, New Haven, Connecticut to visit Yale College and Yale Medical School. I have been wanting to visit Yale for quite a while now after reading a biography of Harvey Cushing. I can not wait to see the Harvey Cushing Library with some of his personal brain specimens!