Meet Jessica – A 1st Year Med Student at The Ohio State University

A first-generation high school graduate, college graduate, and now medical student, Jessica certainly has an inspiring story! Born to Mexican immigrants, she serves as a role model not only to her family members but to people in her community. She’s a good friend and classmate of mine who recently started Inspire Hope, a YouTube channel targeting high school and college students interested in the premed track. I’m very excited to share her story on my blog and hope you will be as inspired as I am!

A few key points from the interview:

  • It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she decided to pursue medicine
  • She went through the medical school application cycle twice
  • The MCAT was a challenge for her, but after a couple of retakes, she beat it
  • She created her YouTube channel to inspire high school students

Free MCAT prep courses mentioned in the video:

Check out our video interview to learn more about her story!

Halfway done!

Happy July everyone! I have a feeling it’s going to be a GREAT month. We started head & neck in Anatomy earlier this week, which means…**drumroll please** we’re halfway done with the summer session! Hallelujah praise Him!!! In all seriousness, it’s an AWESOME feeling knowing there’s just 3 weeks left of classes. Although we only get a week vacation before first year starts, I’m going to milk that break for all its worth. No plans yet, besides relaxing and hanging out with my fam; but the plan is to recharge as much as possible before ish gets real.

In the midst of classes, I’m still fitting in some fun here and there. The weather has been GORGEOUS and it’s been the perfect opportunity to test out my photography skills. I tried taking some shots of myself with the timer (and on my tripod), and bruhhh the struggle! How do some fashion bloggers do it?! I’m still getting the hang of my DSLR, and my biggest challenge is focusing. I was able to get some decent shots though. Cheers to this learning process!

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I’ve also been experimenting in the kitchen and cooking a lot lately – lots of veggies and home cooked meals. I’ve been feeding my body yummy goodness and it’s been loving me back! This week I found out that OSU has a community garden that’s open to the public. The Ross Heart Hospital community garden has weekly classes where they talk about the importance of nutrition, cooking, and healthy eating. Afterwards, you can pick from the garden – FOR FREE! Yes, vegetables for free, I was like what?! Sign me up! I went for the first time this week and a chef taught us how to make two plant-based sauces, afterwards was harvesting time. I probably picked close to $50 worth of groceries – it was awesome. The next day, I made some yummy goodness. Looking forward to experimenting some more!

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If you have any favorite veggie dishes, send them my way:)

Hope you all have a wonderful and safe July 4th weekend!

 

Roses, Long Distance Relationships, and the Joys of Anatomy

Last week was full of celebration. I received my official email, chose my white coat size, I mean it was legit. I also purchased my first DSLR camera –  woot woot! I’m trying to pick up photography as a hobby, but I’m a total newbie – alas, I’m still learning the basics. A friend of mine invited me out to a baby shoot she was doing for a client and I got to observe. It was my first time at Columbus Park of Roses and I was stunned by how breathtaking the whole park was. Here are some dope (raw) shots I took:

My boyfriend also visited that weekend. He’s a medical student and had just completed his last clinical shelf exam for third year (woot woot 4th year status!), so it was double the celebration! We’ve been long distance for the past year, so seeing each other always feels like a treat. I believe the saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” well I’ll add that it certainly makes you appreciate the time you’re able to spend together. Especially since we’re not only long distance but both in medical school now (double whammy!), we definitely treasure the times we’re able to physically see each other. And per usual, it was full of laughter and adventures.

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Sadly, Monday rolled around and it was time to get back into the swing of things, aka studying and getting more acquainted with the cadavers. Anatomy is a huge learning curve y’all! Right now we’re on upper limbs and I’m like, so many muscles in the forearm and hand, all these origins and insertions, the brachial plexus, tis too much! Yea, keeping it all straight is a challenge. Our practical and written exam is this Monday and I’m just going to keep going over the material till it sticks. I use Net Anatomy to study since my school has  a subscription to that. I also use Gray’s Atlas of Anatomy. It’s a bit challenging since we don’t have 24-hour access to the cadaver lab for this summer portion. I suppose I can’t complain though, it’s pass/ fail. Most importantly, being able to recall most of this material when we start MSK block (musculoskeletal system) in the fall is GOLD. I’m always down with anything that makes life easier. On that note, back to the books I go!

Reaction video: It’s official!

Yesterday was a BIG day for me. How big, you ask?

FLIPPING BIG!

Yesterday, the MCAT scores were released *GASPS!* Yes, I know. This is major. As you all know, one of the requirements for my conditional acceptance into medical school was retaking the MCAT. The date was scheduled for us, fixed, with no chance of rescheduling. All 15 of us MEDPATHers were set to take it on May 14th. This was about 2 weeks after our second semester ended. The goal was the meet/ surpass the minimum score required of us. As part of the program, we took The Princeton Review MCAT prep course; this was our “Independent study” course and counted towards credits for the spring semester. This was HUGELY beneficial for me since I had never taken a MCAT prep course in the past.

Anyhoo, fast-forward through all the studying, taking the exam that fateful Saturday, then waiting 31 days for the score to come out. June 14 finally rolled around and being the person that I am, I documented the moment I saw my score – I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for capturing memories. I opened my score page and…**drumroll please** not only did I meet the goal score, but I surpassed it and scored in the 80th percentile. To give you an idea, that translates to somewhere between 30 – 31 on the old MCAT. So yea, it went relatively well. No more ifs, buts, or maybes, my white coat ceremony is August 1st! I’ll definitely write more in-depth about how I studied in future posts. But first…here’s my reaction video!

Click here to  watch

I’m All The Way Up!

Hello beautiful people! It’s definitely been a WHILE. I’ll admit I haven’t been the most consistent but so much has happened these past two months – I finished my 2nd semester of MEDPATH, retook the MCAT (as required for the conditional acceptance), went on a 8 day bus hopping trip, and started the summer portion of my program (Anatomy + Immuno). Yep, a lot has certainly happened and to be honest, I’m feeling like,

Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up!

I’m sure the amazing weather and overall summer vibes has something to do with it. And of course, the fact that there’s just one month, three weeks, and 6 days till my white coat ceremony (Yes, I have a countdown app for this, who gon check me boo!). This song has been my anthem for the past few weeks – can you blame me though? The beat y’all, it’s the beat! What songs are you vibin’ to lately?

A Year Already? How Sway?!

Exactly a year ago I had my interview at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. It’s crazy to think a year has gone by. Like how??

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I still remember coming for the reception dinner the night before my interview and meeting the current MEDPATH students. I remember the morning of the interview trying to decide whether or not to wear flats or heels. At only 5’0 feet tall, sometimes even a teeny bitty heel can give you some confidence. So yea, I wore heels and might I say BIG mistake Lol. My feet were in complete and utter pain during the school tour. Yea, I still remember that pain – NEVER again. These memories are still fresh in mind, and knowing I have just 3 weeks until the semester ends, is surreal.

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On my interview day last year – April 6, 2015!

Meeting the current MEDPATH interviewees for this coming year has made me realize how fast time goes. This week has been interview week and it’s been great meeting all the potential students. We organize an informal reception for them the night before both interview days where they can chat with current MEDPATH students, M1, M2 etc, and ask us questions pertaining to the medical school, MEDPATH or Columbus in general. It’s been pretty cool talking to them. I even met 5 people who read my blog! Hey y’all! That was also an awesome feeling.

I know some of them were a bit nervous for the interview, I remember that feeling all to well. I’ve yet to share this story on what happened right after my interview, so here it goes…

So I know I’ve mentioned this multiple times, but walking by faith (i.e. trusting God) is definitely my thing. I was at the airport heading back to Philadelphia from my interview at OSU when a shirt caught my eye. Something told me to go into the gift shop and buy that shirt. I looked at the price tag – about $20. Yikes! This trip was already costly enough, I didn’t need the shirt THAT bad, so I left. But something convicted my heart, “Derin go back and buy that shirt.” I probably spent about 15 mins in that store going back and forth on whether or not to get an OSU shirt. I prayed about it. “Lord, I really REALLY want this school. I know only you can make it happen. Only you can make it possible. I am TRUSTING you God and as I buy this shirt in FAITH, trusting that my acceptance will come, trusting that I’ll be able to lift my head up and rep this school, trusting that I’m not throwing $20 away, I know God, that you’ve done it already.” And so I bought the shirt. All I needed was one acceptance and I must say, God is a FAITHFUL God!

All that to say, God works in wonderful ways. I told some of the interviewees, be confident, give it your all, and if you’re meant to be here, you will be. No doubt about it:)

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The special shirt:)

“You Can Have It All”

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the annual “Women in White Coats” event at my school. It’s an event that allows female physicians (OSU med alums) and medical students at OSU to connect and share experiences specific to women in medicine. Naturally, I was excited to go and gain as much as I can from these women who have been there, done that.

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My poor roommate got suckered into taking (several) pictures of me before we left for the event😛womenwhitecoatThe dress code was business formal. I went back and forth on whether or not to rock a blazer and ultimately decided not. Glad I didn’t because it wasn’t THAT formal. There were yummy little appetizers and desserts, and ahh yes, wine!whitecoate1

The event was set up almost like speed dating. Almost. Lol. Each round table had at least one physician (most had two), and students could sit at any of the tables. There were three rounds of group discussions. After each round, the students were free to go to any table and spark up a conversation with a new physician. In the beginning of the event, the physicians in attendance had gone around the room and introduced themselves, as well as their specialities; this made it easy to navigate your way too a physician of interest.

What was also really helpful was a suggested list of conversation topics conveniently placed on table. I didn’t end up having to use the list but it was nice to know there was a back up in case things got a little to quiet *cricket cricket*

I honestly had an AWESOME time at the event. I was able to speak with a Rheumatologist, two Primary care physicians, an Endocrinologist, and an Ophthalmologist, and they ALL had valuable pieces of advice to give – from career advice, to having a family, being in a long distance relationship in medical school, marrying someone also in medicine, choosing a specialty, residency, studying for Step one, I mean literally the whole spectrum.

I learned that you can have it all, BUT you also have to know what’s important to you.

That was definitely a big take away for me. I left feeling oh so inspired by all the women who have paved the way (and continue to do so in their respective fields). Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” sums it all up for me. Take a listen and groove with me:)

First Semester Reflections

Second semester is in full swing and the grind is REAL. Before I get into all that in a later post, I’ld like to provide some insight into what first semester was like. Particularly for those interested in the OSU MEDPATH program – I believe the applications are due end of this week! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the MEDPATH program is a conditional acceptance into The Ohio State University Medical School. It’s an AMAZING opportunity. That said, you still have to work your butt off. The Medpath alums (now MS1, MS2 etc) gave us quite a bit of advice in the beginning of the semester.

“Do extremely well in the first semester, so you aren’t worring about grades in the second semester, when you should be focusing on the MCAT.”

Ahhh yes the MCAT, for those who aren’t aware, that’s part of our conditional acceptance – grades and a retake of the MCAT. Although retaking the MCAT might seem daunting, our white coat ceremony is August 1st (6 months from now!). That’s all the motivation right there!

So what does doing well entail? As high a GPA you can get. Seriously. Essentially the higher it is, the more time you can put into studying for the MCAT, instead of worrying about trying to meet the grade requirement. So that’s what our cohort of 15 set out to do. Some of the classes we were taking were:

  • Human Physiology I (everyone has to take this)
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Immunology
  • Medical Terminology

Your schedule is designed by the program director based on your academic records and what they feel will benefit you the most. You do also get some say so. I personally had human physiology I, biochemistry, genetics, and medical terminology.

How I studied

In general, I was using my log book and my plan of 20 hours/week minimum focused study time. Sometimes I fell short, some weeks I went above, but most importantly, I stayed on it. Consistency, I’ve realized is key!

Human physiology:

In the beginning I was doing my method of recording myself going through the lecture slides and listening to them over and over again. You can check out the post here. I did this for the first two exams. For the last 2 exams however, I switched things up and started concept mapping. I actually found this to be more effective. The process of concept mapping on its own is really beneficial, but most importantly constantly going over the concept maps I created helped A LOT. It’s one of the strategies I’m going to address in a post.

Biochemistry:

I would go over the lecture we had that day, that same night. I also watched a lot of Khan Academy videos on things I needed clarification on. These helped a lot. Along with practice exams – not one practice exam but four (or as many was available). What also helped was my study group. We would start meeting up about 1.5 – 2 weeks before the exam and would go over concepts and problems.

Genetics:

I had a study partner and we met up every single week to do genetics problems and review lectures. Some  weeks (i.e. exam week), we’d meet up two or three times that week and work through several practice exams. And these were about 2 hour long sessions each. Outside of this time, I also had my personal study time.

Medical Terminology:

We had weekly quizzes, the midterm and the final. This class was straight memorization. No way around it.

Challenges I encountered

So in the very beginning, I was told that life happens, and there might be some unexpected personal things come up, but the key thing is to stay FOCUSED. Remember why you’re here, and refuse to let anything get in the way of your success. Well, sure enough life did happen. The first week of school, I got into a car accident and my new car got totaled. I was understandably DEVASTED. But can I just say that GOD IS GOOD, and He’ll never give you more than you can handle? It’s a testimony on its own, but long story short, I was able to buy a used car in CASH (this is HUGE because no more monthly car note – broke student struggles!), it was just $2300 (also HUGE, it was in GREAT condition), and I bought the car just 2 days after the accident (it happened so fast!). When I say it’s a testimony, I mean it really is. All that to say God won’t give you more than you can handle. I got through the situation and got back on the school grind.

Another major challenge was working during the semester. Because the way my finances are set up, along with other factors, I took a part-time job somewhere on campus. We’re allowed to work during the program though it’s STRONGLY recommended that we don’t (and most don’t!). And if we choose to work, there’s a 20 hour max, which is precisely what I did. 20 hours. Every single week. And y’all it was HARD. It forced me to be very efficient with my time and account for every “free time” I had. There were several times I wanted to quit, but again like I mentioned, certain circumstances. So I worked, studied, slept, and repeated.

But life is all about balance. 

Even with all that I did have a life outside of school and work. One of the key things that was emphasized in the beginning is having a stable support system. I spoke to my family often. They encouraged me through it all, which was awesome. Same thing with my boyfriend. He’s a 3rd year medical student, so we understood each other’s schedule and made sure the communication lines were always open. Daily. We’re long distance (but thankfully a 3.5 hour drive) so we also alternated on who was doing the traveling. We saw each other twice a month which was great. As far as long distance goes, I will say that it does help having someone who is in the same field, but most importantly, I think the big factor to making it work is communication. This included voice recorded messages (through Whatsapp), video messages, scheduled phone calls, Skype etc. The way I see it, you make it work if you want to.

I hope this provides some insight into what the semester was like. If I were to sum it up in one sentence, I’ld say: My success last semester was possible through determination, focus, my support system, and the grace of God. HANDS DOWN. If you have any questions or comments, do drop it below! I love hearing from you all:)

Happy New Year + Goal Setting

Happy New Year! I realize this is a bit late considering we’re already 8 days in – let’s just ignore that tidbit. First semester flew by fast! I’ll be writing a reflection post on that shortly. The post will include details on the classes I took, the challenges along the way, how I studied for each class, and my overall advice on having a successful semester – particularly for those considering the OSU MEDPATH Program. So look out for that post soon!

A lot happened in 2015 and some of you were able to share with me in those moments of celebration, as well as challenges. At the end of every year, I take time to reflect, purposefully writing down the highlights from each month, both the events that make me smile and cringe in memory. I posted an abridged version of 2014’s reflection on my blog last year (Click Here). I typically do my reflection in the last week of December. It’s good practice as it allows me to remember those times when I didn’t know how God would do it, but He did. He surely did. It reminds me how much can happen in a year, how a year can seem so short and yet so long. It allows me to see GROWTH. As I read through my past journal entries for this exercise, I see how thoughts can become actions, and how time, truly is a valuable thing. I write it all, so I can look back and always remember. It’s a practice I’ll definitely encourage. 

Coupled with this, I take time out to set some goals. These are just a list of things I’ld like to accomplish before the end of the year – they are short term. A few of the items on last year’s list included:

  • Buying my first car
  • Doing another Spartan Race in July 2015
  • Traveling to South Africa for my cousin’s wedding
  • Recording another Afrobeat workout video in January 2015
  • Consistently blogging once a week

Now I’ll be honest, I usually don’t meet ALL my goals for the year (case and point, the last two goals above didn’t happen), but I do come pretty darn close. Throughout the year, I periodically look at my list to remind myself what my goals are, to motivate me, and keep me focused. And yes, I periodically check things off during the year as well. I’m a big subscriber to the phrase:

Plan-to-Fail

I believe in doing things with intentionality. You can find a lot of articles on the importance of not only goal setting, but writing down those goals. There is power to writing them down. At the same time I also like to keep my yearly goals S.M.A.R.T.Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & recorded, and Time bound.

smartgoals.jpgFor example, one of my 2014 goals was to turn in my med school application on the first day. The key point here is that I noted the first day. I didn’t say early (because early is relative), I gave myself a specific timeline, and in the end I was able to turn it in on the very first day (see post here). I can certainly say that what kept me focused, determined, and motivated to get my application materials ready to go, was this personal goal I had set for myself, written down, and referred to from time to time.

A popular practice is making a vision board and placing it in a location you see/ pass through everyday. I personally created a folder in my Google Drive labeled, “New Year and Reflections” where I store both my reflections for the past year as well as my goals for the new year. So far I have reflections and goals as far back as 2012 stored in there. As you may have guessed, I’m a BIG fan of Google Drive – it enables me to access my documents anywhere, anytime, from my phone, my laptop, a public computer. I LOVE the accessibility of it, and it’s the reason why I used it during my application process (see post here).

This year, I decided to make different categories for my goals. They are:

  • Fitness goals
  • Health goals
  • Spiritual goals
  • Academic goals
  • Relationship goals
  • Financial goals

Each category has about 2-3 specific goals. I’m excited at the thought of accomplishing even just a few of these goals by the end of the year. So if you haven’t already, take some time out to reflect on the previous year, thinking about each month, the things that happened, the celebrations, as well as the challenges. Then think about this new year and some goals you’d like to accomplish in 2016 – they could be new goals, goals rolled over from the previous year, whatever it may be, make sure they are S.M.AR.T.

Reflect on!

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Study Strategy II: Studying on the go

This is part two of my four-part series on study strategies. In part one, I discussed time management and what I’ve been doing this semester to be more efficient and maximize my time. Yes, I’m still using my trusty log book, and yep, still counting hours. I’m telling you, it works! If you missed the post, check it out here. In today’s post, I’m going to focus on LEARNING the material. In a previous post, I mentioned that one of my preferred learning styles is auditory (see the post here). Knowing this, I decided to use this to my advantage for one of my classes. I decided Human Physiology would be the best fit for this. Having a part time job (I’ll discuss this in a future post), I knew I had to find ways to maximize the amount of information I learned AND retained within my scheduled study time. I also didn’t take human physio during undergrad, so this was certainly going to be an interesting experience. The goal was to:

1. Use my study time effectively
2. Understand core concepts and lecture material in advance of the exam. Essentially the day before the exam, I should be feeling confident on the material, and if possible, straight chilling. Absolutely NO panicking.
3. Ace those exams!

Using the method I explain below, I learned to study on the goMost phones have a “voice memo” function, and as long as you have your phone and head/ear phones, you’re good to go.

Here’s what I did:

Step 1: Come to class prepared. This means powerpoint slides already printed (or for those with tablets, downloaded). This is particularly important since I took additional notes from lecture directly unto my slides. Coming to class prepared also meant my mind was mentally prepared. I’m not pulling out my phone to reply a text or go on Facebook, I am instead, listening intently to understand as much as I can so I spend less time later trying to understand what was thought.

Step 2: Within 24 hours, usually that evening or the next day, I reviewed my lecture slides and make sense of the additional notes I may have written on particular slides. I also made sure to clarify concepts I didn’t quite understand. Clarification usually meant looking up the specific concept on Khan Academy for a short and concise video on it.

Step 3: After reviewing my notes once, I could now record. I usually did this the next day. Literally, I would record myself going through each PowerPoint slide. Not just reading over the slide verbatim, but actually breaking it down as if I was teaching someone else. As I went through each slide, I could refer to other things I had mentioned. I was literally teaching myself in this recording.

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Step 4: Listen to the recording over and over again. It was best if I could listen while looking at my slides. This way I could target both the visual and auditory part of learning. Most of the time though, it was pure listening.

  • I listened to my recording while on the treadmill. My lecture notes would be mounted up so I could follow along (Side note: walking on 12.0 incline and 3.3 speed is the sweet spot for me)
  • I listened while driving. I have about a 15 mins commute to school daily so on most days, I’ld listen to my recording.
  • I listened at night.
  • I listened in the morning.
  • I listened while grocery shopping.
  • I listened whenever I could.

It worked for me. The key thing was repetition. I kept listening to lectures over and over again to the point where I knew what would come next in the slide AND I understood what I was talking about. I used this strategy for the first two exams in my Human Physiology class. Having a part time job, I felt restricted with time. I HAD to be efficient with time.

How effective was it? Well this strategy was effective enough for me to get an A minus on my first two exams.

I find that recording myself going through the material is more effective that listening to a recording of the professor because: (1), There are no tangents, random discussions, or interruptions to lecture; (2), it’s a much shorter recording; (3) I explain concepts in words I understand, using examples I can relate to; (4) I get to talk it out, out loud – which is very important.

For my last two physio exams, I switched my study style to accommodate the increasing complexity of the material. I’ll talk more about that later in the series. I hope you find this strategy helpful. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Check out my other posts on study strategies:

“Study Strategy I: Time is Money”

“What’s your learning style?”