Second Year of Medical School…Done!

It’s official! I am done with the second year of school and officially half-way through medical school! The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity as I completed my rotations in Surgery, Anesthesia, Ophthalmology and Radiology! This was definitely the most challenging block for me in terms of schedule and the overall demands of the rotations.

Some of the most rewarding experiences were learning how to bag-mask and intubate patients as well as put in IV lines. It was very hands-on and there were moments when I literally felt like the patient’s life was in my hands! I also enjoyed using slit-lamp biomicroscopes to look into the inner world of the eye. What a magnificent and breathtaking part of the body. It was moments like these that reminded me of the miracle and beauty of God’s creation!

I also had the opportunity to do a night shift shadowing an OBGYN resident in the Birthing Center. I had the privilege of assisting on 2 deliveries which was amazing! During the past few months, I have been praying for more clarity regarding what specialty I would like to go into and I am happy to announce that I have narrowed down my list significantly. I will have to keep you in suspense for now, but stay tuned for the big reveal at some point over the next few months.

The past 2 weeks were filled with numerous exams, lectures and small groups to prepare us for clerkship which starts at the end of July. One small group about learning in the clinical setting particularly stood out to me. The main idea was that clerkship is not about performance but about progressive learning. Meaning that the priority is not about impressing with our knowledge but rather about having a willingness to learn and progress along a continuum. I think this is true for many things in life. We will never be perfect but we can have an attitude of humility that there is always room for improvement. We will make mistakes, but we will get better with time! Persevering and refining our skills (in any field) only makes us better and more capable of serving those around us.

So what’s next? Five weeks of vacation to rest, recuperate, have fun with friends and family as I look ahead to the third year of medical school…CLERKSHIP!

 

 

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The First Semester of Medical School is Done!

My first semester of medical school is officially done! It has been even better than I imagined. There is no doubt that medical school is tough and demanding. However, the opportunity to work with passionate physicians, professors, students and patients has challenged me and kept me motivated.

Highlights of the first semester of medical school:

  1. Fascinating material: So far we have covered 3 blocks: Public Health, Respiration and Circulation. I really enjoyed the diagnostic aspects of these blocks such as interpreting chest X-rays and ECGs, as well as the anatomy and histology labs. I also enjoyed the various clinical scenarios where we had to come up with a diagnosis.
  2. Family Medicine shadowing: I have been enjoying the Longitudinal Family Medicine Experience where we get to shadow a family doctor in their practice two to three times a month. It has been so interesting to see what we learned in class reinforced in the clinical setting.
  3. Surgery shadowing: I had the wonderful opportunity to shadow an OBGYN endoscopic surgeon in the OR. It was an incredible experience!

Study Tips:

As the months have progressed, I have been refining my study methods and trying out new techniques:

  1. Keep up with the material: In medical school, it is critical to keep up with the lectures on a daily basis otherwise the amount of material becomes unmanageable.
  2. Be strategic: Learn to identify what material is “high yield” and focus on that. It is almost impossible to memorize every single detail presented and you may burn out trying to do so.
  3. Test yourself: I have found it very helpful to test myself often, either using online quizzes or building my own quizzes using key material from the lectures. My strategy is to write out 15 to 20 questions in an excel sheet following each lecture, upload the questions into an app called cram.com, then regularly test myself.
  4. Explain it: Try to explain a difficult topic to a classmate (or in my case, usually my husband) to see whether you have really understood it. This will help to solidify the material and you will recall it more easily.
  5. Remember the ultimate goal: Remember that the purpose of your learning is to become the best doctor you can be for your patients. Try to learn the material in a way that you can remember it in the long-term, rather than just short-term cramming in order to pass an exam.

How is balancing medical school with a family going? Generally, it is going well. I try to get the bulk of my studying done during the day and during the week so that I reserve my evenings and most of the weekends for family-time. I also try to multi-task listening to recorded lectures while commuting, cooking, cleaning or exercising. I don’t always succeed in finding a balance but I keep trying!

How to handle the heavy workload? If possible, it is important have a support network in place. I am very thankful to my husband for his help with our children and around the house, as well as my friends who have upheld me in prayer. Also, I try to reserve some time for my music hobby, devotional time and to exercise. This keeps my physical, emotional and spiritual life healthy. Planning my week also helps with getting things done in the most efficient way. Things don’t always go perfectly and I do feel overwhelmed sometimes. But developing a plan, being organized and reaching out for help when you need it can help you get through those particularly difficult moments.

Overall,  I am very happy with how the first semester of medical school has gone. I feel incredibly privileged to be pursuing a career in medicine. If you have a dream, don’t ever give up on it. Keep persevering, keep your head up high and surge forward with all your strength. You can do it!

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Getting ready for the OR!
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Enjoying the last of Fall before the snow finally came!
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Getting ready for Christmas!

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

 

 

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.