Year 2 Reflections…Challenges Make Us Stronger

This week was refreshing as we started the final block of the Fundamentals of Medicine: The Nervous System and Human Behavior. The previous block (Reproduction) was surprisingly one of the most challenging blocks for me due to the sensitive nature of some of the topics such as complications in pregnancy. It was difficult to listen to the lecture on miscarriage having personally experienced the trauma of a miscarriage 7 years ago. It felt like I was reliving the experience and I found myself thinking about my dear, sweet, unborn child that I never got to meet.

Moments like this plus settling my son into Grade 1, helping him with homework, occasionally managing on my own while my husband was away, plus the pressure of exams, made things seem overwhelming at times (there were definitely plenty of tears). But I continually remind myself how grateful I am to be in medical school and how much I enjoy it. And in those moments when I was really down, I thank God for his indescribable peace and grace that sustained me. I thank God for my wonderful husband, who despite experiencing his own stress and pressure at work, continues to support me and stand by me on this journey. I thank God for my family and friends who continue to pray for me and motivate me. Sometimes I feel as if I am a marathon runner who has supporters running alongside me shouting, “Keep going! Don’t give up! Keep your eye on the prize!”

One of my dearest cousins used to tell me that nothing worth having in life ever comes easily. This needn’t scare us about trying things and stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone! It is worth the effort, tears and sweat in the end!

I am truly excited to be learning about the human brain, nervous system and behavior over the next few weeks. This week in the anatomy lab, I had the rare privilege of holding a human brain in my hands. I hope this will not be too gruesome for some of you to read but I had to write this to express my sincere appreciation for the magnificence of the human body and for those people who donated themselves for our educational learning. To be holding the essence of this individual’s personality, memories, hopes and dreams in my hands made me reflect on how important each life is.

Featured Image by Potential Doctor: Sunset view of Montreal after a hike up Mont Royal 

 

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Parenting Principles that Transformed my Life…Discipline is an Act of Love

A few weeks ago, I started a new series on parenting principles based on several parenting books I read over the summer (plus my own parenting experience so far). The first principle in the series was speaking positively about our children, affirming them while avoiding harmful and destructive criticism. Today, we move on to the second principle.

Parenting Principle Number Two: Discipline is an Expression of love

  • Do we really need to discipline our kids? This is a tough one! Some days, it’s so much easier to just let the kids behave however they want. But I have to remind myself that this is not true love. While it may be easier in the moment to not discipline my child, this is not in their best interests in the long term.
  • What are some strategies for disciplining kids? Each parent will have their own strategy and values regarding discipline but what I have found works well for our family is outlined in Brittany Ann’s book “Teach Your Children How to Behave”. The basic concept is teaching your children how to make the right choice rather than simply ordering them to “do” or “not do” something.  We as the parents then follow through with consistent consequences if they make the wrong choice. I am seeing the value of teaching my kids this from an early age.

Disciplining children is tough! It can make us feel like mean parents (yes, I have been called “mean mummy!”) and it can be tempting to take the easy route. As difficult and emotionally wrenching as it can be to discipline our kids, it is worth it for the long term character building of our children and demonstrates how deeply we love them!

 

White Coat Ceremony…Donning the Healer’s Habit

Today was a very special day as my classmates and I celebrated a milestone in our medical training…The White Coat Ceremony! It was a beautiful and inspiring ceremony as we reflected on the next phase of our training, the moments when we will get to experience the triumphs and challenges of helping our patients navigate their illness.

In January, we will be transitioning into clinical practice which is when we will begin observational hospital rotations (alongside lectures and small groups) before beginning our official rotations in the 3rd year of medical school. I am very grateful that our curriculum offers us this opportunity to gradually transition into the world of clinical practice as we wrap up our Fundamentals of Medicine block in December.

Today was a reminder of the immense challenges ahead, but also what an incredible privilege it is to be in this profession.

 

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My amazing, supportive husband by my side
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White Coat Ceremony!
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Going on stage to receive my White Coat. So humbled and proud to be a part of the medical profession

 

Gratitude: Appreciating the Big and the Little Things

One of the things that I wanted to improve on from my last year in medical school was learning to slow down and appreciate the little things around me. I loathed the fact that mornings were rushed and it seemed like we were always ordering the kids around and rushing them out the door. With better time management and changes to our parenting approach, the mornings during the past week have been beautiful. I know that not every morning will go smoothly but I am simply grateful for those that do. This morning I felt grateful for 4 things:

  1. Brushing my little girl’s hair: I had dreamed of doing this ever since I was a teenager. After my first pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage, it sometimes seems like a dream that both she and my son are actually here in my life.
  2. Getting hugs from my dear son: As I was getting things ready this morning, my son suddenly stopped me and said, “Mummy, I want to do something”…he then enveloped me in a deep, long hug. Moments like these make the challenges of motherhood seem more than worth it!
  3. Being in medical school: As I looked over the voluminous material I need to learn over the next few weeks, I simply sat back and drank in the fact that although it’s a challenge, I am doing what I have been wanting to do for so long…and I love it!
  4. My Heavenly Father: I love the scripture in Psalms that describes God as a “Father to the fatherless” and a “Defender“. Having lost my father unexpectedly when I was 5 years old, I truly have seen God be a Father to me through the years. Despite the ups and downs, He has always been there for me. He is my hope and everlasting peace!

Take a moment to stop and reflect. What are you grateful for today?

Featured image courtesy of versiondaily.com

Parenting Principles That Transformed My Life…Speaking Positively

Raising kids is one of the greatest challenges one can face. It calls for the utmost patience, unconditional love, and draws stark attention to our own weaknesses. I personally realized that I was not as patient as I thought I was. I can recall my angry outbursts and frustration with my two young children (particularly my son), often feeling like I had no idea what I was doing when it came to parenting. I couldn’t understand why they simply couldn’t listen more…and whine less!!

This summer, with my kids home with me every day for 2 months straight, I knew something had to change with my parenting approach. I didn’t like the fact that I felt so much frustration and helplessness. I decided to take concrete action and found that I started to see significant improvements in my son’s behavior (and my own!) If there’s one thing that I have realized with kids, it’s that often their negative behavior is fueled by my own behavior and attitudes.

So what action did I take? In a nutshell, I prayed daily about the situation and I read parenting resources voraciously. Then I applied what I learned consistently!

I have distilled what I learned down to five basic principles which I learned from several different books and online resources. I feel that these ideas have completely transformed the way that I see myself and my children. I will share these principles with you over a series of posts, but let’s get started with the first one.

Parenting Principle Number One: Positive Speaking

  • Speak positively about your child and to your child:  A child responds to your demeanor and attitude toward them. If all they hear is negative words about themselves, this is how they will behave. Negativity can slip out unintentionally in a moment of frustration: “You’re so messy!”, “You’re so slow!”, “What’s wrong with you!!”. I know I have been guilty of putting down my son when I could have been more gentle or understanding.
  • How can you create a more positive environment for your child? Focus on your child’s strengths. What are they good at? What did they do well today? This can be in the simplest of ways, “Thank you for putting your toys away” or “You were really sweet with you sister today, that’s great!” or “You’re really good at building things, keep up the effort!” This doesn’t mean ignoring their weaknesses or any bad behavior, but it means putting more emphasis on what the did well rather than what they failed at.

This principle was inspired by reading “Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World” by Zig Ziglar.

Stay tuned for Principle Number 2 in this series of ‘Parenting Principles That Transformed My Life’

Featured Image Courtesy of jodysysler.com

First Day Back at Medical School…Year 2

Today was the first day back at medical school and I am excited to have started on the next block…Reproduction! From looking ahead at the schedule for the next month, we will be covering plenty of topics that interest me such as prenatal diagnosis, obstetrics and breastfeeding. The block will be heavy in anatomy and histology which is a big challenge! Although it takes me time to master anatomy names, I do enjoy this part of the medical curriculum. Histology has been one of my favorite areas since the beginning of medical school. I feel like my brain just gets it which is very rewarding!

This afternoon, I had my first session for my Community Health Alliance Project (CHAP). This is where we each get to volunteer with an organization out in the community in order to give us more exposure. My community organization is in the area of Mental Health. I chose this because I do not know much about mental health issues yet I have seen it affect people around me. I am curious to know more about it, how it is managed and how I can help to break the stigma around it. The people at the organization were very welcoming and seem extremely passionate about what they do. I was very inspired by the inter-professionalism and I am excited to be a part of the team for the next few months.

I am hoping to try and keep a balanced approach to life during this second year of medical school. I know it will not be easy but it is my sincere wish to keep God and my family as my top priorities, to make time for exercise and rest, as I give my best effort to my school work!

PS… If you love to read as much as I do, or if you’re simply looking for something new to read, please do visit my “Books to Read” page. I have updated it with several new titles that I read over the summer. I hope you will find them as useful or inspirational as I did! Enjoy!

Summer Fun..and Getting Ready For the Second Year of Med School!

I can’t believe how fast the summer has flown by and that I’ll be starting the second year of medical school in a week!

It has been a fantastic summer spending time with my husband and kids, as well as catching up with friends and family. The kids developed a great love of swimming this summer and we went to the local pool almost every day. It was so great to see them getting over their fear of water and becoming more confident. It was also nice to catch glimpses of what their gifts and talents may be. My son seems to have a gift for designing and building things. He can come up with something from scratch without instructions! My daughter has such a depth to the way she observes and interprets the world and seems to just naturally nurture, comfort and encourage those around her. It’s been great watching the kids grow in their friendships with others. My son had his first sleepover at a friend’s this weekend and he had a blast!

My time at home with the kids also reminded me how difficult parenting can be. It requires so much patience and grace! Motherhood is definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it has also allowed me to examine my own character and weaknesses, and enabled me to grow. Regardless of the challenge and the weight of responsibility in bringing up, disciplining and guiding our children, I am so grateful for the precious memories of this past summer, and for the many moments I got to cuddle and kiss my children!

This summer, I also got to spend a day shadowing at a hospital and it was a fantastic experience! One of my favorite blocks during the first year of medical school was Cardiology and so I wanted to find out more about what it’s like in the hospital setting. So, I spent the morning rounding on patients in the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) and the afternoon in the ER doing Cardiology consults. The staff physicians, residents, and fellows were wonderful to work with. I loved the Interprofessional aspect of the medical team and how everyone on the team could give their input on a case. I got to interpret some ECGs, examine patients, take a partial medical history, observe the management of patients with a variety of cardiac conditions, and even got to give some input on differential diagnosis. It was so interesting and mentally stimulating! I was moved by my interactions with the patients who had much to teach me about the experience of illness and hospitalization.  I will definitely be adding Internal Medicine to my list of potential specialties for the future!

As the summer break comes to an end, I hold my memories with the kids close to my heart! I am excited to be starting my second year of medical school (and also excited for my son who is starting Grade 1!)

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Science in action! The kids making a battery out of a lemon which powered a digital clock. They were fascinated!

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The kids’ favorite place to be!

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He could look at books for hours! I love watching him!

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Enjoying the view from Jack Layton Park

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His first time kayaking on Lac Simon….he loved it!

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Baby girl canoeing with daddy on Lac Simon

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It’s so fun being a kid!

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Canoeing with daddy on Horseshoe Lake (Saint Agathe-des-Monts)
 

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Yummy ice-cream in Saint Anne-de-Bellevue

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Ready to hit the pool!

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Hike and picnic on Mont Rigaud

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“Elementary, my dear Watson!”…..the kids came up with their own play and costumes!