Highlights and Lessons Learned from the Second Month of Medical School

The second block of medical school is complete! We just spent the last 5 weeks learning about lung structure, function,  diseases, diagnoses and treatments, interspersed with a few lectures on clinical method, epidemiology and genetics. My favorite parts of this block were the anatomy and histology labs, and learning how to interpret chest X-rays and CT scans. We also learned the basics of how to perform bedside ultrasound. I love how hands-on the curriculum at my university is!

In mid-October, I had the wonderful opportunity to shadow a pathologist and two pathology residents for half a day and I loved it! The atmosphere was very welcoming and I was allowed to sit in on some cases at the microscope. Fascinating!

During one of my clinical sessions at a private Family practice, I got to perform my very first physical examination on a patient. I was a little nervous at first (especially since I have very cold hands) but the patient was very gracious as I stumbled along trying to figure out how to use my stethoscope and the blood pressure machine.

My final exam on this block was tough but I felt good about it overall. The week before the exam, I started to recognize signs in myself of feeling a little burnt out so I took a break from studying and went for the women’s fellowship at our church during the week. It was so rejuvenating to exercise with the ladies, chat and study the Bible. What I was challenged about most was resuming my daily devotional time with God (particularly first thing in the morning). I have to admit that with the busyness of school and  family, I have not been as consistent with my quiet time. I was reminded how important it is to have daily reflective time alone to recharge and gather my thoughts! Whenever you suspect that your life may be going out of balance, acknowledge it and try to address it as best you can. Medical school is demanding and it’s important to take care of your emotional and spiritual needs too.

The other item that challenged me during the bible study was to reflect on what things I can improve on in my character. There is always room for improvement. For me, the 2 areas I would like to work on are patience (particularly with my children) and humility (it is important to remain teachable, humble and remember that every person is valuable).

As I start Block C of medical school (Circulation), I am so grateful for all that I have learned during the past 2 months! It’s been both challenging and fantastic!

Fall Fun…A Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

One of the things I love about the Fall season? Pumpkins!

There’s so much you can do with pumpkins, from carving funny faces in them, to making pumpkin pie to baking the seeds for a crunchy snack. Today, we visited a pumpkin patch at a nearby farm and there was plenty of fun for kids and adults alike. We went on a tractor ride, frolicked through row upon row of pumpkins, played hide-and-seek in a cornstalk maze, visited farm animals and devoured delicious freshly baked pumpkin muffins! The weather was warmer than usual for October, the perfect temperature for an afternoon outing!

 

Month 2 of Medical School…and the Beauty of Fall

I am now well into my second month of medical school. I am happy to have passed my first exam and am about half-way through the second block which covers the topic of respiration. I have really enjoyed my anatomy and histology labs and find that this ties in nicely to the lecture material which explains the physiology and disease processes affecting the respiratory system. Although there is a mountain of information to learn, I am enjoying medical school and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity!

This past weekend was a beautiful relaxed one as my family and I spent many hours in nature enjoying the splendor of the Fall colors. The children loved exploring the woods not far from our house, picking up different types of leaves and pine needles, and observing different kinds of mushrooms.  After long, busy days at school, I feel so blessed for the time I get to spend with my husband and children. It is so precious!

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Beautiful Fall colors against the backdrop of a crystal clear blue sky

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Brother-sister love!

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Little Miss Sunshine

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Our cutie-pies sitting on a tree-stump that they discovered in the woods

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Daddy and the munchkins!

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I love the lighting in this photo!

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Taking a break from our walk

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I love being by the waterside!

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Beautiful turkey tail mushrooms flanked by a striking red maple leaf

 

 

Delicious, Nutritious Fruity Smoothie

I recently discovered this delicious, nutritious smoothie recipe with mango, banana pineapple, avocado and spinach.

How to prepare

Simply blend together 0.5-1 cup water, 1/2 banana, 1 cup roughly chopped mango, 1 cup roughly chopped pineapple, 1 avocado and 2-3 cups baby spinach.

What I love about this recipe

  • Packed with nutrients
  • Full of flavor
  • A great way to use up spinach that would normally be lying neglected at the bottom of the fridge
  • A hit with the whole family and a good way to include  healthy fruits and vegetables in the kids’ diet

Suggestions/Modifications

  • If you are not too keen on banana, I would reduce the amount or even eliminate it altogether because even just half a banana can overwhelm the other flavors in the smoothie
  • If you don’t have time to chop up all the fruits, try using pre-chopped frozen fruits instead (lightly thaw before blending)
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Ready to drink!

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My testers….this smoothie is “kid approved”

 

 

A Reason To Smile

Yesterday, after a particularly busy day, I embarked on my long drive home. One of my favorite parts of the trip is the moment when I cross one of the bridges connecting the island of Montreal with the mainland. I always take a sneak peek to my right where I can see luscious green rolling hills, wavy water and specks of white sails belonging to the numerous boats making their way leisurely through the water.

It is at that moment that I take a deep breath and smile as I anticipate seeing the smiling faces of my children waiting for me at home. Often, my husband and kids will call me on my drive home simply to say that they are looking forward to seeing me soon and that they love me. Those moments always give me extra strength and remind me of how much I have to be grateful for.

When mummy pulls into the driveway, after a busy day at medical school, I see excited young faces at the window, I hear the door bursting open and two little beings yelling with joy as they run into my arms shouting “Mummy you’re home”.

My mind flashes back to when I was five years old, and I used to rush into my late father’s arms when he would come home from a long work day at the hospital. I remember him swirling me around and around, him biting back his fatigue so he could spend some special moments with me.

Thirty years later, I am in a similar position with my children and I absolutely love the fact that I get to come home to them and that their excitement and joy remind me of how much I am loved and appreciated.

My husband and children give me a reason to smile everyday!

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Reflections on the First 3 Weeks of Medical School

I have just experienced my first three weeks of medical school and it has been amazing! The first week was a series of orientation sessions to get us familiar with the medical program while the second week was the official start of classes.

I would love to share my experiences with you!

  • What I love about the program:  Fantastic classmates, passionate teachers, fascinating material, plenty of support, small group sessions, mentors, a focus on wellness, and the opportunity to shadow physicians right from Week 1! So far, I have had some exposure to family medicine, obstetrics and pathology. I loved being in the birthing center where I got to meet a patient who had just given birth by cesarean section. There was something so profound about being with someone at such a life-changing moment. I have also enjoyed my histology labs where we have been identifying different types of cells and tissues. Interestingly, it seems that pathology is moving away from using microscopes and instead using very high resolution images on the computer screen.
  • Challenges: The biggest challenges so far are being away from my children and the 2-3 hour daily commute. Traffic has been much worse than anticipated so I am making the most of my commute time to listen to lectures and also to decompress at the end of a busy day. I am very grateful to my husband for his tremendous support in helping out around the house and with the kids.
  • Surprises: The orientation and first few days of class focused on physicianship, the social aspects of medicine, indigenous health and the disparities in healthcare among the aboriginal population. Where as I thought we would be diving straight into hard science and performing dissections in the anatomy lab, it was interesting to learn about the social side of medicine and how so many factors affect health. I have also been pleasantly surprised by the vast array of backgrounds that my classmates have. It is such a diverse group!
  • Strategies for survival: I have had to adjust my study methods compared to the last time I was in school. The material is too voluminous for one to completely master every detail so I am learning the art of determining what is the most essential and what fits into the big picture of becoming a doctor. So far, I am mostly using the lecture material and my own created flashcards to summarize the material. Upper year students have also created some useful summaries that they have graciously handed down to us newbies.
  • Tips and advice: An important tip that I have heard from many seasoned medical students and doctors is to not neglect my life outside of medicine. I am trying to create a positive habit early on of having protected time for my husband, kids, devotional time, adequate sleep and exercise. I will also try to keep up with one or two hobbies, some friends and family.  There are several activities and organizations on campus I am interested in joining but I will have to be selective and not take on too much. Flexibility is important and I realize that I may not always be on top of things, but I will do the best that I can and enjoy the adventure!

Although I am only at the very beginning of my training and there is much more to come, I am really enjoying medical school so far and feel so grateful to have been given this opportunity!

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My new stethoscope just arrived! If you are wondering what brand to buy for medical school, this one comes highly recommended and is offered in an array of colors.

 

Medical School Starts Tomorrow!

It is hard to believe that after 10 years of planning, with plenty of detours and surprises, I am finally starting medical school tomorrow! When I look back on the past few years, there were several moments when I wondered why there had been a delay or why things did not go as planned. In hindsight, I realize that everything had a purpose and that this is exactly the right time to be doing this, even if it took much longer than expected to get here!

I am so grateful for the support I have received from my amazing husband, church, friends and family. If you have a goal in life that seems somewhat overwhelming or even nearly impossible, gather the right people around you to encourage you, lift you up and mentor you. This has been invaluable to me for getting through obstacles and disappointments.

Last Friday, my husband and I spent a day together (normally, we’re surrounded by our rambunctious kids!) We drove downtown and strolled around hand-in-hand reminiscing on our early dating days. It was so special to walk on campus where I completed my first degree eleven years go, knowing that in just a few days I would begin another one at the very same university.

My husband and I wandered into the medical building where most of my classes will be. We eventually found ourselves in the Osler library, home to thousands of books on the history of medicine personally owned by the Canadian physician Sir William Osler, the father of modern medicine. There was something so profound about being in touch with this important piece of history just prior to the start of my own journey into medicine.

As I start a new phase of my life tomorrow, I hope you will continue to follow me on this adventure. My husband and children are very excited and although I know it will be demanding, I am so thrilled to have my ‘team’ behind me for support!

Onward to medical school!

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On campus with my husband

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Last weekend before medical school starts! A fun ferry ride on the way to the beach at Oka park

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Last day before medical school starts: a day at the water-slides in Pointe Calumet

Photo credit for featured image: Karen Coshof (from the book ‘The Osler Library’)