Getting Closer to the Start of Medical School!

As the start of medical school approaches, I can feel the excitement continuing to rise! This is going to be such an amazing journey! I know it will be very challenging and will stretch me in many ways. I am going to give it my very best effort, knowing that my family, friends and God’s strength will help to sustain me through the upcoming long journey!

Since my last medical school update, we have managed to get a lot done:

  • Take Basic Life Support class (CPR and AED): Done! Very useful course that I think everyone should learn!
  • Update immunizations: mostly completed. Pending 2 reports following a chicken-pox titre test and chest X-Ray. Two more tetanus shots will be done in August and February.
  • Financing my medical education: meet with the bank (done, credit-line approved!), apply for government financial aid (done, waiting for my application to be processed) and scholarships (done, and I’m happy to announce that I received a scholarship that will go towards part of my first year of tuition!)
  • Look for a second-hand car to commute 5o minutes downtown: done! We got a fuel-efficient 2012 Toyota Yaris with only 13,000 kms on it for less than half the price of a new car!
  • Register for classes: Registration opened yesterday! It’s so thrilling to see what courses I will be starting off with (trying not to be fazed that the number of courses and credits are almost double what I did per semester during my undergraduate degree. I have been told medical school is like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant!!)

So all in all, things are falling into place and I feel truly grateful to God for this amazing opportunity to study medicine and hopefully make a difference in the lives of my future patients!

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Registering for my medical school courses Fall 2016!!

 

Five Benefits of Venturing Outside Your Comfort Zone

It’s rarely easy doing something that we are not accustomed to. It can make us feel uncomfortable and unsure of ourselves. This week I was reminded that venturing outside our comfort zone is actually good for us. It can increase our confidence and help us achieve things we would never have thought we were capable of.

This past week, I had the pleasure of being part of a great team that led over 60 kids aged between 4 and 12 during our church annual summer camp. The theme for this year was ‘Cave Quest’ and many of the activities dealt with geology concepts such as stalactites, stalagmites, snottites and geodes. I was tasked with the role of running the “Imagination (Science) Station” during which I would run various experiments with the children.

Now I have to say that prior to the camp I felt rather intimidated by the sheer number of kids that we would be looking after as well as the fact that I had never done a summer camp before nor did I have much knowledge about geology. I would have felt much more at ease talking about biology or chemistry. But geology? I simply felt clueless. The fact that my team and the kids were depending on me forced me to do my research and come up with some inventive ways to demonstrate the experiments.

Through the course of the week, I went through a myriad of emotions from exhaustion to frustration to amazement to appreciation to gratitude! It was difficult to do something outside of my comfort zone and there were times when I felt I was not doing a good job. But each day, the excited faces of the children with their energy, curiosity and thirst for knowledge, made me feel so privileged to be part of the team doing sports, sharing about the wonders of science as well as the love of Jesus.

This week surely reminded me of the importance of stepping outside of our comfort zone from time to time. The benefits are many:

  1. Growth and perseverance: doing something you are not familiar with stretches you and forces you to use your mind and body in ways that you’re not used to. The result is a stronger, more resilient person who can take on even greater challenges.
  2. Builds relationships: having been in the trenches with the kids and other leaders for five full days in a row, I got to know more about them and to build some amazing friendships.
  3. Expands your horizons: I remember somewhat grumbling to myself when I saw what the theme for the summer camp was….geology? Boring! I don’t know anything about that! But having researched and then explained the concepts to the kids, I learned some truly fascinating things!
  4. Builds your confidence: Having successfully managed to “survive” the summer camp, I feel much more confident to take on  new things and not to be intimidated by my lack of knowledge on a subject. There are so many resources to learn new things!
  5. Meets a need: No matter how uncomfortable or incompetent you may feel at something, if you give it your best and put in the required effort, you will make a difference in someone’s life, maybe even leave a permanent mark on their hearts and minds.

Don’t be afraid to try something new! Don’t let discomfort hold you back! There is a learning curve for everything and with time and effort, you will eventually succeed!

The Privilege of Being a Mother

Today I feel amazingly privileged to be a mother. To see my children laugh and smile, to feel the soft touch of their hands on my cheeks, to feel their tight hugs and sloppy kisses, to witness their abundant curiosity, to watch them grow, learn how to swim or ride a bicycle, to see their independence, to be the one who comforts them when they cry or are hurting. To hear them say over and over again, “mummy, I want you” and “mummy, I love you forever and always”.

Motherhood is one of the most difficult endeavors I have embarked on. There have been many moments of tears and self-doubt, wondering how I can bear the responsibility of raising and guiding two very unique human beings. Yet, there have been so many moments of joy, happiness, gratitude, amazement, and an overwhelming love in our household that I hold simply as a miracle of life.

To my dear children and to my ever supportive, loving husband, you are precious gifts to me and I am so blessed to have you in my life.

Mummy loves you “forever and always”.

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My dearest children

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I love being a mummy!

Sharing my Summer Garden with You

One of the things I love about Summer is the variety of beautiful blooms that we get to enjoy in various parts of our garden. I would like to share with you some of the flowers I captured on camera. I am not sure of all their names but hope to one day learn. There’s something so uplifting about looking at, smelling and touching these magnificent creations. Enjoy!

 

 

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Fresh scented lilacs

Ten Tips to Excelling on Your Interview

The interview does not have to be a daunting step in your journey to getting into medical school or to getting that desired job. With the appropriate preparation, you can face it with confidence and boldness, knowing that you have worked hard and have the ability to succeed!

The medical school interview has evolved in recent years from the more traditional one person interview to an amalgamated set of interviews known as the multiple-mini-interview (MMI). This involves a series of about 10 interview stations, 10 minutes each in length with different interviewers. The format of each interview can consist of traditional interview questions, role-play (acting), logic/calculation questions, writing, team-work (collaboration) and more. You can read more about the history and format of the MMI.

The main purpose of this post is to give you some tips to prepare for the MMI and how to handle yourself on the big interview day. Many of these tips apply to other interview formats:

  1. Practice, practice, practice: This is the most important way to prepare and you can start months in advance before you even receive an interview invite. I started with just one question a day (there are plenty of sample questions online). Once I received an interview invitation, I ramped up my practice to about 2-3 questions per day.  I also recorded myself to evaluate my body language, tone of voice and to obtain feedback from others. Practicing in front of the mirror, on Skype, or in person with people from different backgrounds will also get you used to formulating your thoughts quickly even when faced with unfamiliar material. Constructive criticism from those you practice with is vital for improving your line of thinking and delivery. Practice under timed conditions so that you get used to speaking under pressure and learn how to stick within the time limits. A solid foundation of interview preparation will give you more confidence on the big day.

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    Image courtesy of grafhamwalbancke.com

  2. Be yourself: I realized the importance of this particularly with role-play questions. Although there is some level of acting required, it is important to react to the situation the way you normally would, in keeping with your personality, and not pretend to be something you are not. It will be very obvious if you are not being authentic.
  3. Be confident: I went into my interview knowing I had prepared and worked hard. I was in a positive frame of mind, confident that there was no room to doubt my abilities. Enter the room with a smile and give a firm handshake. Recognize how hard you have worked and how far you have come in obtaining an interview. Keep that momentum going!
  4. Be clear and concise: In my view, less-is-more when it comes to an interview. Meandering and rambling speech will make it difficult to bring your points across. Try to keep your response relatively short and to the point (about 2-3 minutes in total and then allow time for follow-up questions).
  5. Check your body language and attire: This may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised by the things we do with our hands, face and body when we are talking. During one of my practice sessions, I realized that I tap my feet repeatedly, sometimes roll my eyes and clench my hands. Evaluate your body language and make adjustments if anything seems inappropriate or distracting. Remember to maintain eye-contact with your interviewer or role-play partner and maintain good posture. Ensure that you are dressed appropriately.
  6. Answer the question: You will have about 2 minutes to read and absorb each question on the MMI. Make sure you have noted the salient points of the question, that you answer what is being asked and do not go off on a tangent. Only interject personal experiences if it is relevant to the question.

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    Image courtesy of careerealism.com

  7. Listen attentively: It can be tempting to want to talk non-stop during the interview particularly on the MMI where you only have a few minutes to make an impression on each interviewer. However, being a good listener is also an important skill. You can demonstrate this during role-play scenarios by pausing at appropriate moments to allow the other person to speak and by asking questions to stimulate conversation.
  8. Explain your thought process: For logic questions, explain your line of thinking as you go along rather than waiting to find the solution in your mind before presenting it. Even if you run out of time or do not arrive at the correct answer, you will have at least demonstrated how you think and tackle problems.
  9. Be engaged: Even if you are unsure of how to answer a question, be enthusiastic and engaged with your interviewer. Your passion will come across in your tone of voice and body language. In role-play scenarios, imagine that this is a real situation and throw yourself into the role.
  10. Have fun and don’t dwell: At the end of each interview station, don’t dwell on how you could have done it better but forget about it and move on to the next station with a clear, fresh mind. One station has no bearing on the next station. (Personally, I felt that I fumbled two stations but felt fairly confident about the rest). I have to say that the MMI was the most fun and challenging interview I have ever done. It really stretched me! Try to remember that although the interview is an important part of getting into medical school, you can also relax and enjoy the day through the different scenarios and the people you will meet. I made some great friends and was very inspired by the people I met on interview day.

Whether it is for school or a desired job, many of the above tips will be applicable in different contexts. I hope these tips help you feel more prepared and confident for your interview day. You can do it! If you have further questions, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help.

Delicious Coconut Shrimp Ceviche Recipe

I would never have thought of combining shrimp, coconut and grapefruit in one dish but that is exactly what this coconut shrimp ceviche recipe does, and the result is divine!

I was inspired to make this recipe from the book “Simple Stunning Parties at Home: Recipes, Ideas and Inspirations for Creative Entertaining” by Karen Bussen.

I modified the recipe as shown below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound  (approximately 90-100) shrimp, peeled, cooked, with the tails removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 to 1.5 grapefruits roughly chopped into sections, peel removed
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • If shrimp is frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Remove tails (if present) by gently prying off. You could also use a knife but you may lose some of the shrimp left inside the tail.
  • Extract juice from lemons (approximately 3 to 4) into a small bowl.
  • Add coconut milk to lemon juice and stir briefly to mix.
  • Cut grapefruits in half (transversely) and chop into small sections (skin removed)
  • Place shrimp in a serving dish and add grapefruit sections.
  • Pour lemon/coconut milk over the shrimp/grapefruit.
  • Chop up fresh cilantro and sprinkle over the dish.
  • Add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

What I love about this recipe:

  • Unique blend of flavors
  • Very quick and easy to make
  • Kid-friendly

Options/Modifications:

  • You can add some diced jalapenos for extra flavor.
  • You can chop up the shrimp into small pieces prior to marinading.
  • You can serve with steamed rice or on its own.
  • You can use raw shrimp and then marinade for a longer time (about 1 hour). The citrus juices of the lime/lemon will cook the shrimp.
  • Coconut milk can be quite high in saturated fat so you can select a light version with less fat if preferred.

Enjoy your delicious coconut shrimp ceviche!

 

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Coconut shrimp ceviche

 

The Funny Things Kids Say

Caleb: “Mummy, did you buy daddy at the store?”

Mummy: “Nope, and we can’t return him to the store either!”

I love how kids think. They are so curious and genuine, not afraid of how people are going to react to their questions or comments. My children teach me so much every day. From their enthusiastic attempts to learn a language to trying to understand the world around them. I am reminded that it is good to sometimes slow down our busy world and look at life through simple eyes, just like a child.

Have a beautiful day!

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Caleb and Naomi, our dearest children.