med student

Third Year Med Student At Your Service!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my 3rd week as a third year medical student – y’all, it’s still surreal to me. I AM A THIRD YEAR MED STUDENT! It feels like I’ve reached the mecca, the promised land, the land of patients, and all I’ve been working so hard to achieve. Yea, I still have a long way to go, and a lot to learn on the wards, but my goodness, this is an awesome feeling.

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My first rotation is Internal Medicine and it began with a one week orientation, where I  had lectures and also got to practice procedures – thoracentesis, paracentesis, lumbar puncture, ABG, ultrasound guided injections, central lines – all via simulation of course (shout out to the dummies haha). This past week, I was officially on the wards. My general medicine service has been interesting – my concern going in was that Internal Medicine is pretty much EVERYTHING, and I’ld need to know everything about everything; so far, my assumptions seem somewhat accurate. Thankfully however, my residents and attending have been really great at teaching. I get asked questions a lot, and I am perfectly okay saying, “I’m sorry, I’m not too sure, could you explain that” or “I’m not sure but I can look that up.” Because to be honest, I don’t know the answers to everything (Step 1 was 4 weeks ago, and feels like ages ago), and it can be like, omgosh, omgosh I’m supposed to know this but I’m drawing a blank.

It is to say the least, humbling.

But alas, it’s only been week one on wards, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. Some of the things I was nervous would happen, happened already multiple times – for example, getting asked a series of questions on EKGs, and reading several in a row (oh cardio, my arch nemesis). So alas, I suck up my pride, take my L’s and use each experience has a learning point. All in all, it’s been great thus far.

I also started UWorld questions again. It’s funny, after you take Step 1, you think FREEDOM! No more UWorld, no more studying! Only to start third year, spend $479 for a year subscription of this question bank (I am quite salty about this – why so expensive?!) and begin the whole process again. Oh medical school. The sad thing is, there’s no escaping it. The best way to study for shelf exams is UWorld questions and the way my school’s curriculum is, I’ll actually be taking 3 shelf exams in one week – Internal medicine, Psychiatry, and Neurology. Furthermore, since Internal medicine is a lot, and known to be notoriously hard, every upperclassman I’ve talked to said start UWorld medicine questions immediately. So alas, here we are. There are 1300+ questions for medicine alone and I have 7 weeks of Internal Medicine to get through them and learn, learn, learn. And of course, I have to get through Psych questions as well – I’ll have 4 weeks of that rotation, and 3 weeks of Neurology, before the shelf exams. To sum it all up, the studying continues.

And so does the fun.

Cheers to week 3!

Goodbye 2nd Year, Hello Step 1!

I am officially done with my 2nd year of medical school! Surreal! We had our last exam on Thursday and as soon as I clicked submit, it was like, “Whoaaa, this is really it!” Blessings!

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And now it’s time for Step 1 studying.

We have exploration week this week (i.e. exploring/ shadowing different specialties) so my dedicated study schedule doesn’t start until Monday, Feb 19. As I mentioned in my last post though, I’ve been doing UWorld questions throughout 2nd year. I’m not quite done with my first pass yet, but I’m aiming to be done by this Sunday. I’m so close!

The main resources I’ll be using for Step studying are:

  • USMLE World (UWorld) question bank
  • First Aid 2018
  • Pathoma
  • Sketchy Pharm + Micro (to brush up/ as needed)
  • Goljan pathology audio (while doing cardio at the gym)

I also have the following resources as well but I’m not sure if I’ll use them during this study period (aka I don’t want to overwhelm myself with too many resources): BRS Physiology, USMLE Secrets, Boards & Beyond, and Kaplan question bank (already subscribed, so if time permits).

We had a Step 1 Q&A session today with 3rd and 4th year medical students and hearing about their experiences definitely reinforced that these next couple of weeks are going be REAL! Prayers definitely needed. My goal is to stay consistent with my schedule, continue working out during this period, and reach my highest scoring potential for this board exam. It IS possible!

I also have some things going on during this study period as well – I’ll be presenting my research at a national conference, and going to my significant other’s residency MATCH week, so definitely tons to look forward to. So soooo excited and ready to THRIVE during this period!

My 5 Takeaways From M1 Year

I’ve had several people ask me what I enjoyed most about my first year of medical school and the lessons I learned. Reflecting on this past year, it’s amazing how FAST it all went. At the same time, when I think about my white coat ceremony on August 1st, that memory seems like ages ago. My white coat is certainly not as clean, and all the excitement that came with it has slowly faded (it’s lazily drapped in my car as we speak!). I remember how excited I was for Musculoskeletal (MSK) block and anatomy, dreading my 26th birthday and feeling like time was slipping past me, and even my first suture clinic! So much has happened this year: moments of celebration, and of course, some lows as well. So here are 5 takeaways!

  1. Shadowing is BAE: This has honestly been one of my favorite parts of this year thus far. I shadowed in ophthalmology, radiation oncology, OBGYN – labor and delivery twice, emergency medicine, general surgery, and urology (twice!). I even got to scrub in! And of course, there’s also my family medicine clinic (longitudinal practice) that I went to every 2 weeks as part of our curriculum. Besides my longitudinal practice, all those shadowing experiences were things I sought out on my own. It’s certainly been an outstanding amount of clinical exposure and it’s helped me in clarifying my interests and what specialty I’ld like to go into. Perhaps I’ll write a separate post about that, but I will say that I started med school saying “No way I’m doing a surgical specialty. I LOVE my life too much, plus that’s 5 years of residency! I’m already a nontraditional student!” and now I’m actually strongly considering a surgical specialty. I realized I’ld rather love what I do than be in a specialty I have no passion for, but went into because of lifestyle. Funny how that works doesn’t it?
  2. I learned you have to adapt QUICKLY: I learned this lesson during the first block (foundations one) and it was very present in each and every block thereafter. If a method isn’t working, and you’ve waited long enough to see that, change it ASAP. This included study methods, study groups, resources/ books, time management (i.e. finding time to talk to my significant other) and so on.
  3. It’s okay to say NO: man oh man, as the year went on, I started saying no, more often. No, to hanging out, and no, to committing to things I would have said yes to in the past. Why? Because I realized there was a value on my time. Other students didn’t have the same commitments I did. And it occurred to me that even though I said no, there would be someone else who would say yes. I knew my limits and I have historically been one of those people that stretch themselves THIN. I was trying to avoid that this year. Although, from my neuro block, I definitely did do the most there, but you know, everything is a lesson.
  4. Work hard, but also PLAY hard: Remember how I said cardiopulm broke my heart? Well during that block, I felt miserable and I think it was partially because I was all work and little to no play. It affected my mental state and eventually my physical (eating badly, gained a few pounds). Your mind needs a BREAK! And I learned there needs to be some sort of balance. Neuro, as crazy as it was, had a ton of happy moments. It was a lot of work, but coming out of cardiopulm, I was like, there has to be some PLAY in my life. And I honestly think that’s what helped me get through that block. Even with all the craziness and how busy it was, I ended up doing better on my block exam for neuro than I did for cardiopulm!
  5. Know your LIMITS: This is similar to my “saying no” bullet above but it mostly relates to wedding planning. Did I mention how happy I am that we moved the date? I’m not superwoman y’all, and I perfectly okay with that.

So those are 5 takeaways from this past year. And here’s the overall recap:

  • I turned 26 and celebrated it with friends in Washington D.C.
  • I got engaged in December – WHOOHOO!
  • I spent Christmas in Jamaica (first time!) and got to meet my fiance’s extended family
  • I traveled to San Diego, California for Spring Break
  • I traveled to Atlanta for SNMA national conference – had a BLAST!
  • I had a mini breakdown and cried over Neuro (I told y’all it had me shook right?)
  • I was awarded a research grant to conduct my independent summer project
  • I realized urology MAY be my dream specialty
  • I gained new mentors

And I confirmed there’s nothing else I’ld rather do than medicine. This year was AMAZING! Cheers to a year of growth!

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Pictured: Mine and my fiance’s stethoscope. Married to medicine! Photographed by Tonjanika Smith photography. Do not use without permission. Thanks!