motivation

Just Keep Swimming…

It’s crazy how fast this musculoskeletal (MSK) block has gone. It wasn’t that long ago that I was making my first cut into my cadaver and then trying to reflect gluteus maximus to see piriformis, gluteus medius and the other underlying structures. Now fast forward 6 weeks later, and here I am:

  • 1 day away from my MSK OSCE (an assessment of my patient interaction/ communication skills using a standardized patient, as well as my ability to give  a shoulder and knee exam)
  • 3 days away from my anatomy practical
  • 8 days away from my block exam

It’s definitely GRIND time. There’s a lot of material in this block and because it’s also different from the others, it feels a bit overwhelming. I’ve been making to do lists everyday and trying to accomplish as much as I can..”Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” as my homie Dory would say.

This block was also a lot of fun. I serve on my school’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) executive board and we had our regional conference on my campus. It was a blast! A lot of work when it came to planning, but the conference was a GREAT turn out and ultimately a success.

During this block, I also went to my first suturing workshop. Check out my handiwork below. Now I know my stitches aren’t good BUUUUT there’s a first time for everything. It was a pretty cool experience!

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Anyhoo, I just want to encourage others who are also studying for exams right now, WE GON’ BE ALRIGHT! We’re so soooo close to the end of this semester. Stay encouraged and power through. And if you need to recharge, listen to some Salt-N-Pepa, and PUSH IT! Push it reaaaaal good all the way to the finish line 🙂

Two weeks in and many more to go!

It’s Fridayyyyyy! Another week done and DONE!

gina.gifTruthfully, it’s been two weeks of studying, making new friends, MORE studying, going dancing, and then EVEN MORE studying. Yep I’ve been spending a lot of time with my books BUT I have a confession….I enjoyed it all. Yes I know, I know, it might seem strange – med school, firehose analogy, and all the other daunting images that come to mind when thinking about med school. So far, for me, it’s been a smooth transition. I will admit, this is mostly due to some of the study strategies I use, time management, my MEDPATH year, aaaannd of course, disclaimer, it’s only been two weeks. However, what I’m doing is working well for this block and I’m excited to share my tips!

First about the curriculum:

I’m on Foundations one, which is a 5 week mixture of Biochemistry, Genetics, Cell biology/ Histology, Pathology, Anatomy, Pharmacology, Behavioral and Social sciences AND Statistics (Evidence-based medicine etc). Wheeewww, looking at it now, that seems like a lot! What I like about it though is that the material is presented in different ways – what we call TLM (teaching and learning methods). So some of these subjects could be lectures, patient presentations, small groups, articulate modules, guided readings or team based learning (TBL). In addition to all this book work, we also have a patient and clinical skills component. All that to say, there’s a whole LOT to our curriculum and as time goes on, I’ll share more and more about it. One thing I will say though is I absolutely LOVE it!

Alright, unto what I’ve been doing to manage all the material. 

  1. I plan my week. I have a dry erase white board on my door (it’s actually a peel and stick whiteboard I bought on Amazon last year. Click here for something similar) that keeps me on track.
    • Did I get through all of Monday’s lectures, articulates etc? Note: first pass means preview for me. Second pass is typically in-class lecture. Some things like articulate modules, don’t get a second pass.
    • Did I make my Anki cards?
    • Did I review the Anki cards I made?
    • Did I prep for my LG class (which is the patient and clinical skills class)? planweek.JPGI made this board before class started and have been using it since day 1. Some columns don’t get filled i.e. I don’t plan to start BRS questions (Board Review Series – click here for link to books) until it’s closer to the block exam. My plan is to continue using this for the rest of the block and beyond!
  2. I preview – review. I am team PREVIEW lectures before going to class – like aaaaaall the way. Personally I am more engaged when I’ve previewed a lecture a night or two before and actually know what’s going on, what’s coming next, what slide I need to make sure I pay attention to because I was totally lost the night before and so on. It makes lecture a more enjoyable experience for me. So yep, I will sit there the day before go through all 60-something slides or however amount, just so I can have a better learning experience. I use my iPad (all students get one) so I’m able to write notes like “what’s going on here?” “is this important?” “skip!” It allows me to find out what’s high yield during lecture. A slight perk this week was having a random classmate I was sitting next to in lecture tell me “Wow you’re really smart, I hope you’re in my TBL group!” Yea, I felt pretty good. I told her my secret – previewing lectures is totally IN.
  3. I go to lectures. Some of the material is given to us as articulate modules which are prerecorded lectures – in those cases, yea I listen at home. However the in-class lectures are the ones I preview for AND go to lecture. Again for me, it’s making sure I’m engaged and paying attention. I prefer to hear the lecture once and not have to again, so might as well go and cement what I went over the night before. I find that when I stream the lecture live at home, I end up being distracted by other things, but when I’m in the lecture hall, I’m super focused.
  4. I make Anki cards. Anki makes the dream work y’all! It’s a flashcard app that uses spaced repetition and it is simply AMAZING. I make my Anki cards while I preview the lecture or while listening to articulate modules. During lecture, I pay attention to the slides I marked up (“is this important?!”) and more cards get made right there in lecture. I hope you can see how this makes learning a bit more interesting and engaging for me. I go over my Anki cards pretty much everyday – I give myself a break on Saturdays, but the rest of the week, I Anki while walking my roommate’s dog, while studying in my room etc. Yay for technology and being able to synch Anki to both my computer, iPad and phone!

Other things that have also helped is taking Biochemistry, Genetics, Histology, and Anatomy this past year. Shout out to MEDPATH. Some of this material feels like review (or at least vaguely recognizable haha). So these first two weeks haven’t been bad. One of the most enjoyable parts about it is incorporating the different diseases, symptoms, diagnostic methods etc i.e. Cystic Fibrosis. This whole week was pretty heavy on that, we also had a quiz today just on that, ask me anything hahaha.

But that’s how the week has been. Saturday’s are fun days. Last week was full of dancing and I’ve got some equally exciting things to look forward to tomorrow. I hope you do too!

The Fun Begins: My White Coat Ceremony!

“But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings as eagles; they will run and NOT be weary; and they will walk, and NOT faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Monday was my white coat ceremony and it was GLORIOUS. As I walked on stage after my name was called, I kept thinking this is really it – a major and symbolic step in my journey. I was overwhelmed with so much joy!

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Shout out to all the curve balls that made my journey to this point a bit more interesting and most importantly, to God who gave me the strength to tackle them all. All those challenges made this moment so much sweeter.

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A big thank you to my friends and family who have supported me throughout, also to you all, who read my blog, who provide encouraging words and put a smile on my face with your thank you emails – you’re appreciated!

Cheers to this next chapter, the curve balls that will be handled with grace (hopefully!), and the opportunity to share my experience through this blog. Looking forward to it all!

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?

“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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