Sunday, October 27, 2013

ask me anything: medical school

I loved loved loved reading all of your questions from the Ask Me Anything post. It turns out that all of the questions kind of fell into several topics - medical school, blogging, fashion/shopping, and general life questions. I'll answer the questions for each topic in different posts over the next few weeks because not everyone wants to hear about my study habits or where I buy pants or how I taught my dogs to be so awesome ( just kidding. no one asked that question. rude!). First up is everything related to medical school, medicine, and studying. If there is anything you maybe didn't get answered, feel free to ask in the comments section!

my friend Serine and I during the casting clinic last week
How stressful is medical school and do you feel like you still have a life outside of going to class and studying?

Very. Here’s where I’m coming from – I worked for two years, and had my time after work to myself. Now when I’m not technically in a classroom, I still need to be doing school work. I would say probably 3 hours of my non-sleeping hours a day are just for non-school things, which includes getting ready for school, preparing and eating food, blogging, and random facebooking. So 24-6 hours of sleep – 3 hours of personal time = 15 hours of school. It’s just a lot to have hanging on you. That being said, I really feel good about my life right now, so it balances out. I don’t know really what life outside of school would entail, but I feel like I’m living more now than I did when I was just working. I have good people in my life, and even if 70% of what we talk about is school, we try to have a good sense of humor about it all.

Any tips on studying for the MCAT?

Gahhhh, the MCAT. So I did not take a Kaplan or any other course because 1. I couldn’t afford it and 2. I should have learned all of that material in school anyway. The first time I took it, I just went through a study book and did a few practice tests. That did not prepare me the best. The second time I took it, a year later, I had a few more science classes behind me (most importantly being physiology and biochem), but I only had 10 days to hard core study because I took it right after I graduated. I did a quick review of all the material, but spent most of the time just doing practice exam after practice exam to get a feel of the questions and timing. You can buy practice ones from AAMC, so that’s what I did the most. I went up 4 points so I think that helped me the most! You have plenty of time until the test comes, just pace yourself. And definitely slow down the last week so you don’t get burnt out from testing!

What are your best Pre-Med and Organization Study tips?!

Make lists of what you need to get done! I constantly have a list of things I need to learn better, which keeps me both on track and doesn’t allow me to forget to learn something. Find a way of keeping track of what is going on in school, either in a paper or electronic planner.
my roomate and I during our white coat ceremony - so fresh and so clean
How did you decide on medicine for your career? I think it's amazing that you're keeping up with the blog along with medical school! Keep being awesome; you're an inspiration. 

First of all, you're super sweet, thank you :) It was a long road to get here. I really enjoyed my A&P class senior year of high school, but when I started going to the UW, a school of 40,000 people, I was really intimidated so I kind of forgot about it. I played with the idea of becoming an English teacher, majoring in music (LOL yeah right, I have no real idea when it comes to music), being an admissions counselor. During winter break of my sophomore year, my parents sat me down and asked me what I wanted to really do. I said I really liked science, but was scared to take any classes at UW. They told me to just go for it, and from there I started down the path to becoming a dentist. Towards the end of my junior year, I decided that dentistry was not for me. One of my summer jobs brought me into contact with a family physician upstate, and after several days of shadowing, I knew that was it for me!

Do you think you have an advantage ahead of your classmates because your father is a physician? Like in terms of knowing what to expect? I don't have anyone in my family that is a physician, but my mom is an occupational therapist. I have done a lot of physician shadowing and I'm wondering if that is enough to show I am aware of the challenges physicians face in their day to day lives?

I would say…yes and no. I have an idea of what my life may look like. My dad worked 100+ hours every week, because he’s amazing and a machine. He was not home often, and worked very very very long hours. So I guess in that sense, I have an advantage because I know the toll it can take on yourself and your family. But in my actual medical education, I don’t think I’m at an advantage at this point. It’ll be nice once rotations start in third year since I’ll be able to go to him with questions, but right now during our classroom years, I’m the same as everyone else. I think that mine, and your, career in medicine is dependent on us, not our parents :)

I miss you already Anatomy - go away core.
Do you have any recommendations for pre-med students looking into medical school?

Get your applications in early, know what you want from a school, and take an anatomy course before starting!

So, how do you manage your time to study, and how do you study? I am trying to get used to reading large textbooks and having things stick, and coming from my background, I find this a challenge in itself. So I suppose I am looking for some advice really on how you plan, study and proceed through. / How to you stay focused during studying? I'm in my final leg and I just can get myself to sit down and to the work. Any tips?

I try to stick to the 50-10 method during hard core studying times. I turn my phone on airplane mode, put down my computer screen, and set a timer for 50 minutes. I study those 50 minutes without distraction, and then I give myself 10-15 minutes to check emails or look at blogs or facebook or just lay down and close my eyes. You get a lot more done, and don’t feel like you are just wasting time. As far as the actually studying goes, what works for me is taking notes from the book. I like to be able to organize my thoughts on paper, and maybe put the information in a different order than the book presents it. Others like to highlight, while others like to just read it. I hate to say “find what works for you” but …find what works for you ;)

Where do you go to Med School? 

Due to privacy and just being paranoid as a whole, I won’t discuss where I go to school. I’m closer to the east coast than the west coast, and live next to a big lake :)

Have you thought about what you want to specialize in?

I’m thinking OB-GYN, but as almost any medical student/doctor will tell you, who really knows your first year. Chris thought he was going to go into pathology, and now he’s applying for surgery programs. I’ll see where the next ~3 years take me. I feel that I'll be in primary care setting though - I really want to be a part of my patients' lives.

Do you have "study"music? I've always got music on while studying, so I'm curious.

YES. Oh god, I would die without music. For hard core studying, I listen to wordless music, usually the Epic or Hans Zimmer station on Pandora – lots of movie film music. For less hard core times, I listen to a lot of Mumford and Sons. I just can’t get enough of it, and it just puts me in a good mood.

What was the most difficult aspect of getting into medical school?

….getting in ;) I kid. The most difficult thing was sticking with it. I didn't get in my first time applying, and I was crushed. Like...crying for days. I tried to take it as motivation for the next round. Plus spending sooooooooooo much money on applications.

How hard is medical school, really?

I wouldn’t say the material is necessarily hard. It’s just A LOT of material to learn in a short amount of time. You’re spoon fed the information, they tell you exactly what you need to know, but that information is a 1200 page anatomy text book.

I was wondering if you had any advice for applying to medical school, studying for the MCAT, or even the interview process for medical school?

For applying, as everyone says, apply early and broad for you best chances. That being said, I handed in my secondary for my school in November so what do I know. I say know what you are walking into for the interview – is it a group interview? Be social and friendly without being overbearing. Is it a closed file interview? Talk about that amazing volunteer work you did since the interviewer doesn't know about it. Open file? Be prepared to talk about that bad grade you got sophomore year because they will ask you.

Was there a single event that motivated you to become a doctor?

I wish I could say there was (It would have made it easier for those application essays!) but it really was a large number of things. 

What do they teach med students about nurses/the role of the RN? 

Well I’m really only 3 months into this whole thing, so there is SO MUCH we haven’t learned yet. We did learn about the requirements and education nurses receive during our health care management course, but I think the majority of our education will be hands on during rotations. Nurses can either be your best friend or worst enemy during rotations, residency, and really at any point from there on out, and everyone knows how hard nurses work, so I’m hoping to learn as much from the people of your profession as possible.

Thank you so much for all of your awesome questions! Let me know if you want to know anything else below. All pictures are from my silly hashtag #frandoesmedschool on instagram.